How to Occupy Your 2 Year Old While You Homeschool

 

I’m getting everything ready for our 2nd year of homeschooling.  Last year I had a 1 year old running around, and I compiled a couple posts to help me with that: 15 Independent Activities for One Year Olds and 15 {More} Independent Activities for One Year Olds.

Since the little guy is another year older, his interests and abilities have changed slightly (although many of the one-year-old activities will still work for keeping him occupied as well).

We’ve actually been “doing school” all summer since I missed a lot with my health issues, and I wanted to try to finish up the kindergarten books before we started 1st grade.  Because of that, I already have a pretty good idea of what works for keeping the 2 year old occupied.  My 3 year old just does kindergarten along with her older brother and has picked up quite a lot from it.

I hope these ideas will help those of you with toddlers – especially 2 year olds – as you prepare for this year of homeschooling.

How to Occupy a 2 Year Old While You Homeschool - very helpful!

1.  Let them learn alongside their older siblings.  Some children are more active than others, and this idea may only last about 5 minutes for some kids.  My little guy absolutely loves to do “cool”, and runs to grab his chair every time we sit down to do school work.  Although my focus is on teaching my oldest what he needs to learn, I try to involve to 2 younger ones by occasionally asking them age-appropriate questions regarding the subject I’m currently teaching.  If my oldest is doing a worksheet, the younger ones get one too (for a 2 year old it’s usually just a coloring sheet to scribble on).  If I’m teaching math, I’ll give the little guy a couple manipulatives to hold and keep his hands occupied.  I just try to keep things moving, and he usually ends up sitting there the better part of an hour.

How to occupy a 2 year old during homeschool hours

 

2.  Independent play.  When he is ready to get down and run around, I like to have toys around that he can play with by himself.  Here are the things that seem to work the best for his age:

  • Building Blocks or Mega Blocks
  • Books
  • Cars
  • Play dishes and food
  • Doll house with lots of accessories or barn with animals

You have to see what they’re interested in at the time, and go with whichever activity seems like it will occupy them the longest.

I’ve actually written an entire book with 101 Independent Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers, which you can pick up right here.

I just got this email this morning:

“MaryEllen,

Thank you so very much for this book! It has been a tremendous help to me. We have been able to have school without much interruption and it has been a big relief to this mommy!”
That makes me so happy to know my ideas are helping other homeschooling moms’ school days go so much more smoothly!

 

3. Sit-at-the-table activities.  If he’s not wanting to sit and do school or if his play time becomes “destroy the entire house” time, I put him in his seat at the table and give him a specific activity to occupy himself.  Here are the things that work well for his age:

  • Containers – Little ones love taking things in and out of containers, so I just give him whatever I have lying around (boxes, wipes containers, etc.) and give him something (pom poms, counting bears, etc.) to put into and dump out of the container.
  • Busy Bags – there are so many bloggers out there who have put together educational activities for their children.  The ideas are endless.  You can find a ton of them pinned on my Toddler Activities Pinterest board.
  • Coloring – I usually just give him 2 or 3 crayons at a time.  Otherwise, it becomes another game of dumping things out of the container.  😉
  • Stickers – I give him a page of stickers and a piece of paper and let him go to town.
  • Playdough.  This is for the days I’m really in the mood to clean up a big mess afterward.
  • Snacks – I usually try not to resort to food because I know he’ll want to eat again as soon as his big brother and sister get a snack, but sometimes you do what you have to do.
  • Puzzles – I love those puzzles with the big pieces and knobs, and he is starting to really enjoy them.
  • Melissa and Doug toys.  They make some of the coolest things that are both educational and exciting for the kids.  A good way to get them cheaply is to sign up for Zulily (this is my referral link, fyi), and wait for them to put Melissa & Doug stuff on one of their daily deal sales.  Keep an eye out for their toys at yard sales and thrift stores as well.

Keeping 2 year olds occupied

4. Make a computer geek out of them.  There are a lot of iPad and Kindle Fire apps geared for babies and toddlers available.  I am amazed at how well my little guy can navigate the Kindle Fire like he knows exactly what he’s doing.  He can watch educational videos, do puzzles,  draw, and play simple games.  It keeps him occupied for quite a while.

 

Above all, just remember that no matter how much you plan, there will still be days when it seems like all you do is run to get a little one out of mischief.  Maybe it’s time to just put the school books away until daddy gets home, pull up some educational youtube videos for the older kids (make sure you do it safely, though!), or take a short break and try again later.  Getting frustrated isn’t going to make your day go any more smoothly.

 

 

What are your best ideas for keeping the little ones occupied during school hours?

 

MaryEllen

Hi! I'm MaryEllen. I currently have 3 children that I am homeschooling, from kindergarten through 4th grade. I also wrangle a toddler and will soon have another newborn in the house. Join me as I share real life stories of how I'm getting it all done (or not!)

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