Homeschool Help: What to Do with Younger Siblings

Homeschool Help: What to Do with Younger Siblings

Motherhood and Children

So many of us are wondering what we are going to do with our younger children while we homeschool our older ones. Well, today’s post will give you some easy ideas (and I’d love to hear yours!). Plus, encouragement about this whole homeschooling thing!

A word of encouragement to new homeschool moms:

We are so thankful that our children attend a school that is trying to make this homeschool phase as less stressful as possible on parents. After all, we cannot be expected to do everything exactly like their teachers were planning to do this spring. We’ll definitely do the best we can under the circumstances.

Because as mothers we are perfectly capable of teaching our children, of keeping them engaged and curious. But we are also the primary vehicle of grace, truth and love in their daily lives. And they may need more than they need fractions right now.

To moms of preschoolers and even kindergarteners:

I wouldn’t put too much energy on the academics. Preschool is a somewhat new thing in our society and many studies show that it really only affects long term educational success in low income populations. And did you know that kindergarten is not even mandatory in many states? My girls went to a kindergarten that was just three mornings a week. Don’t get me wrong: preschools can be wonderful. But if your child doesn’t go to preschool for the rest of the year it is probably not going to impact their educational success long term. 

I say this to hopefully take some of the pressure off already stressed out mothers. We’ve been talking in our Influence of Motherhood Mentorship Group that so much teaching in young childhood can occur in our daily routines. Young children also learn so much just in everyday play and being outside and through us reading to them.

The quiet activities below will definitely work for preschoolers. But we are also about to release a list of 30+ SIMPLE and enriching indoor and outdoor activities for all ages. Many have coordinating classic books. (Things your children can do while you get other things done- yay!)  Sign up here to receive that. 

So now let’s talk about what we are going to do with our toddlers and your children while older ones are homeschooling.

Here we go: 

1. Be realistic.

We can’t expect toddlers and young children to sit still or be quiet all morning while we educate our older ones. It’s just not going to happen! Tempering expectations and having a less than rigid schedule might do a world of good as we head into homeschooling. 

2. Get a little energy out and feed them well before “school” starts. 

Young children will be more likely to sit for longer periods of time if these two things occur. Getting all your children outside or at least a little active, especially young children, might be a good idea before the school day begins. On a normal school day my elementary girls play on the playground at least 15 minutes before heading inside to their classrooms. I am sure the school has a purpose in getting a little energy out before they sit down to learn!

3. Put together a basket or box or folder that you only bring out during homeschool time.

Make it a special “school” basket that gets them excited about school time as well. Fill it with mini puzzles, crayons, paper, magnetic letters, craft supplies, coloring book, safe scissors, stickers (I love this reusable sticker set!), a few books, post it notes, etc. Search your house for whatever you have that could entertain!  This should keep them entertained for a good while. 

Preschoolers would probably love having their own binder to keep their “work” in during this time. You can print out worksheets and coloring sheets on many websites. Or find some simple workbooks on Amazon that have linked below or some of the education toys on our preschool gift guide

4. Let young children feel part of school by giving them a mini version of an older sibling’s lesson. 

If your first grader is learning about sea life, get out fish stickers or print out free coloring pages with fish and sharks. Break out the stuffed animals like Nemo and sharks. Watch an educational video about sharks on your phone (if you let the do that.)If  you have a dry erase board you could let them draw what you are talking about while you are teaching the lesson. Let them learn about the same things but make it fun! This takes a little pre-planning but might be worth it.

5. Make a simple sensory station.

Don’t put much time into this! Just get out measuring cups, spoons, scoops, plastic tweezers, droppers, or funnels (whatever you can find in your kitchen drawers that’s safe!), Each day try a different sensory item or mix up a few. Young children can sit in their high chair or on the floor with a tray or plastic bin. Again, get creative with what you already have at home. 

  • Dry rice/beans
  • Play doh
  • Beads (Over 3 years)
  • kinetic sand
  • Regular sand
  • Water beads (Over 3 years)
  • Older children can do perler beads. 
  • Check your craft bins for pom poms.
  • DIY sensory bin ideas here (if you have time for that!)
  • Paint is also fun but if you don’t want a mess put a few colors in a large gallon zip loc bag and let your toddler have at it. Just make sure it’s sealed!

6. Audio book

If you need more quiet time to work with an older child, send preschool aged children to a different room to listen to an audiobook. We have an enriching list of classic favorites here. Good news! Audible (an app) has waived their fees temporarily so you can download any book for free. Children can color, page through a book (don’t forget we have a list of  our top 100 classic books) or do any of the activities above while listening to an audiobook. Or they can just res!. Use an old iPad or – better yet – just put a bluetooth speaker in their room during this time. Childre

7. Take breaks

Children are used to taking breaks at school, switching out books in their lockers, going to the bathroom, so we shouldn’t expect them to sit still for three hours. With a two year old I know I will have to take breaks! Walk around the block, enjoy nature in the backyard. Most homeschool moms will tell you that getting their children outside is essential. 

8. Enlist older siblings. 

Home schooling is a family affair! While I am helping one child, I may need the other one to play with Louise or read her a book.  

I hope this post was encouraging and helpful. If so, please share! I sincerely appreciate the support for all our what to do and say posts over the past week. Browse below or we pinned them all to a Pinterest board as well. 





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4 thoughts on “Homeschool Help: What to Do with Younger Siblings

  1. Great ideas! I found when our youngest hadn’t started school yet, she usually joined in listening after a while because she was bored and wanted to be a part of what we were doing. A great “school workbook” for younger ones are the beginning handwriting books from Handwriting Without Tears. They are simple, teach some basic skills like drawing a straight line, are really cute and help younger siblings feel like they have a school book of their own!

  2. This is really helpful. I do feel like we all need to lower expectations with the schedules and activities. Thank you!