Working Around a Toddler

Toddlers can be a challenge. Whether you're teaching older children or trying to complete an everyday chore, toddlers can be disruptive.

I know. I've worked around many toddlers over the years, five of them being my own children. I'm often asked for suggestions on keeping toddlers busy during the day, so I thought I'd share my suggestions with you.

Observe Your Child
It's helpful to identify your toddler's personal schedule. Does he eat and sleep at regular times? Are there specific videos that he likes to watch? Does he spend time with Daddy in the evenings? Once you have this figured out, you can coordinate your schedule with your toddler's.

Your Child Observes You
Keep your toddler nearby so he can see you work. Start with small increments of time and build up to an hour if that's your goal. For instance, give your toddler a pad of paper and some colored pencils to work with while you write by hand or get him a toy typewriter to use while you use the computer. Explain to your toddler that you need to work with another child and he needs to work, or play quietly near you. Set a timer for the designated amount of time and when it rings, stop and focus on him. Have a snack, tickle him, or just admire his "work." After a week add another five or ten minutes. You are not asking too much of your child when you expect him to play quietly. Be patient, though-it may take awhile to get to an hour.

Create Distractions
Create a "school" toy box. In this box keep toys he can use ONLY during the times you are teaching. Such toys could include things like stencils, books, or stuffed animals. These toys are only played with during school hours. Keep about eight different toys in this box and rotate them on a regular basis. Rotating the toys keeps them fresh and interesting to him, plus they are special since they are only for that time.

Use a Sitter
Having a teen come in for an hour or two a day is a great idea, too or let an older sibling be in charge of the toddler-you'll be available if you're needed, plus it's great practice for when they have their own children. Whatever you choose to do, remember that it's possible to teach your toddler that although they are important, other people need you as well. Be patient and your toddler will get used to sharing you.

Kelly Huckaby is a Christian/Wife/Mother living in Oklahoma with her husband and five homeschooled children. Visit her at for more homeschooling support.

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