School Plus Dash: A Day In The Life

Before we started homeschool, people would look at Dash with wide eyes and say things like “How are you going to teach school with HIM???”  And I would answer them with this well thought out response: “I have NO IDEA.”

And I didn’t.

I didn’t really know how it would work.  I just knew it could work.  I knew that others (some with many more kids than me) managed to successfully homeschool and that we could do it too.  Yes, even with Dash, who by himself may have the energy output and destructive power equivalent of three calmer children.  So, yes, I knew that somehow it would work and I’m happy so say that it is indeed WORKING.  (mostly)

Of course, there are days when this kind of thing happens:


homeschool with a toddler = messes

There’s no use crying over smashed tomatoes. But a few tears might be shed over a broken Williams Sonoma plate.

Of course, stuff like that happens around here anyways.  That is why I only have four plates left out of the original set of eight.  That’s right kids, HALF of the plates are gone!  See, learning all the time…

ANYWAYS.  Following the theme of iHomeschool Network’s last week of The Not Back To School Blog Hop, I thought I’d share with you a bit about how we’re scheduling homeschool with a toddler.

What is my Secret Weapon?  Here’s a hint:

homeschooling with a toddlerNo, my Secret Weapon is not decorating with subliminal messages.  Well, maybe it is ONE of my Secret Weapons.  But the point is, getting up before everyone else REALLY makes the day go smoother.  And  since Beau is an early riser, we can get some of his work done together before the littler guys get up.

Finn, on the other hand is NOT an early riser.  He doesn’t sleep super late, but WHAT A RELIEF it is not to have to wake him up.  He comes downstairs on his own around 8:00am and every once in awhile he will actually speak words that resemble a greeting, instead of just growling and retreating under a blanket.*

*Disclaimer:  Some mornings do not go quite like this.  Like this morning, I was sleeping on Dash’s floor, with a migraine, and woke up to the sound of an obnoxious Nickelodeon show about alien rabbits, blaring from the TV downstairs.  Finn thought he could sneak in some TV if he got up early enough.  I’m not sure if it was all that early.  The Early Bird can go jump in a lake when I have a migraine.

Okay, so my inner drill sergeant feels guilty about ever letting anyone sleep.  Drill Sergeant Mommy thinks everyone should get up at 6:30 and start being productive members of society just like if they were in public school.  But a more reasonable inner voice tells me to respect the child’s need to sleep and work on setting an example of early morning industriousness myself (when I don’t have a blinding headache.)

After everyone has had breakfast we do our calendar, check the weather, and do some reading.   Then everyone does a little bit of chores to get the house spiffed up for the day.  NO, they aren’t working their poor little fingers to the bone.  But they are learning some life skills.  If these boys get married someday, their wives will be very thankful that they know how to wipe down a bathroom.

Next we do “Gym” using a workout video.  Fitness is important to us and being naturally skinny doesn’t exactly run in the family.  So I want to show the boys how to have good fitness habits.  NO, I am NOT making the little children do P90X!  We just pick something short with good music and they bounce around and do jumping jacks and whatnot.  We don’t always have 100% participation, but I can ALWAYS count on Dash’s participation!

homeschooling with a toddler

After Gym we do most of our schoolwork.  Thank goodness Dash just started getting into Lego Duplos!  He also has a toddler safe magnet set he likes to stick on the magnetic white board.  I keep the magnet set hidden and bring it out when we need it, so it doesn’t lose it’s novelty too quickly.  If he wants to be up at the table with the big boys, he has his very own pencil pouch with chubby crayons and washable markers.

homeschooling with a toddler

Usually we take a recess before lunch.  If the weather is pleasant enough we will go outside to ride bikes and scooters.  After lunch Dash is *usually* ready for his nap.


homeschooling with a toddler

Shhh, Baby sleeping!

Nap time is when we can do fun stuff like board games, art projects, and science experiments!  Um, wait, please don’t tell Dash what he’s missing.  I’m afraid he may never nap again…  Or we do some nice, quiet reading aloud time.  Yeah, you can tell Dash about that.

So, by the time Dash wakes up, we usually have everything crossed off our list for the day.  Then the big boys have time to work on what they enjoy most,  (usually this equals Lego Time.)  Although sometimes it means reading or drawing or writing or just letting little imaginations go wild.  After 3:00pm they can watch a TV show (Wild Kratts is their current favorite) or play an IPad game.  Then they are back at it with the Legos until dinner.   And Dash is with me, probably in the kitchen, throwing clean dishes back in the sink.

homeschool with a toddler

Do things always go smoothly with Dash around?  Ha!  I’m sure if you have to ask that, you haven’t been reading The Ordinary Chaos for long.  Life with Dash can be a wild ride, but he is part of the family and we are working on developing a family culture of learning.  As he gets older it will be easier, but I’m confident that even now, he’s not hindering anyone’s progress.  The kids seem to be thriving in a comfortable, loving environment where they are free to move around, get messy, and explore what interests them.  All with little brother close by, trying to keep up with the big guys.  🙂





Off The Leash

Look at this cute backpack I got for Dash.

IMG_2528Awe.  It’s so cuddly and he just loves it.  Here’s another shot…

IMG_2523What?  What’s that strap hanging off it?  Uh, yeah… I’m not sure ?…  It just came with this extra piece…

Okay, okay, it’s a leash.  But we prefer to call it a Snuggly Chaos Management Buddy.

You know, there was a time when I had no idea that a baby “leash” was such a controversial item.  I got one for Beau when he was a toddler and I was taking him to the airport.  I was worried about him running off or getting kidnapped while I was dealing with luggage or plane tickets.  REALLY?  Not wanting to lose your toddler is controversial?

Well, apparently there is a school of thought promoting the idea that children should LISTEN and BEHAVE.  Interesting, right?  Apparently there would be no need to restrain these small people, because just the sound of an adult’s voice would stop them dead in their tracks.  It sounds like a promising theory, but personally I would like to see further research on the subject, particularly in regards to 18 month old boys.

The other objection some have to the Chaos Management Buddy is that “Leashes are for dogs and children aren’t dogs.”  I totally agree that children are not dogs.  I have had both children and dogs and they are not the same thing.  For instance, children climb things where as dogs do not.  They both have about the same risk of running into traffic or biting someone.  So, no, I would not compare my dear child to a dog.  He is more like a spider monkey with a hint of wolverine…

Just kidding!  But joking aside, back when Beau was little, I was a lot more concerned about inviting public scorn for trying not to lose my child, or for making any other unpopular parenting decision.  I wouldn’t want some strange person who knows nothing about me or my situation or my child’s temperament to think I’m a BAD parent!  How awful it would be if they judged me!

But by now I have more or less gotten over that.  (Or at least become desensitized to it?)  I do what I feel is best for my kids because I know them best.  And I know not everyone is going to agree, which is FINE because I’ve seen that things work out okay when I go with my instincts.

Still, being a parent is a lot like wearing a sign that says “Open For Public Criticism!”  Whether you’re the mom running frantically after an off-the-leash toddler, or the one trotting behind an on-the-leash toddler, or the one who is having all the exits shut down because she has no idea where her toddler is, you can be sure there is someone standing idly by, shaking their head in disapproval.

Let’s see… We have the Old School Folks who reminisce about the days when you could just go chop a branch off a tree and beat your kids with it.  Then there are the  Paranoid Vigilantes who are standing around watchfully with CPS on speed dial.  And don’t forget everyone’s favorite parenting critic, The Perfect Mom.  Bless her heart.  She is more than happy to take a break from flash card drilling to tell you in excruciating detail How You Too Can Be Awesome.  She has time to do this because her children are plowing through a midmorning snack of Doritos and Coke.  Awe, Perfect Mom, it’s okay.  Nobody’s really perfect!

They all mean well.  But sometimes it does get old!

SERIOUSLY, if the worst psychological damage my child incurs is because his mother was really worried about him getting lost in a public place, then I think we are going to get away with a really cheap therapy bill.  Thanks for all the well meaning opinions, but we are doing okay.  Everyone is happy, and Dash has no idea his Cuddly Buddy carries a stigma with it along with an small pack of washable crayons.   And the best part:  I didn’t lose any kids.


Wait, there’s only two here… Has anyone seen Beau?