We have six children ages 9 and under, and only two of them are "officially" homeschooling right now. As you can imagine, our homeschool routine is constantly interrupted and sometimes downright hectic. As we have welcomed each new little one into the family, I've developed different strategies that have helped our days to run more smoothly—homeschooling included, but also home management, work and ministry. 

What to "Do" With Little Ones While You Homeschool 

It probably comes as no surprise that there are many articles and blogs online that are designed to help us, as busy homeschooling moms, to balance academic education and nurturing our little ones. Some suggest inclusion, which minimizes the often-destructive or disruptive behavior of preschoolers that may simply be cries for our attention. Others recommend the occasional "divide and conquer" strategy that keeps different groupings of children occupied with multiple activities, with Mom bouncing between them all—somewhat like a disoriented pinball in an arcade machine.

Of course, there are tons of suggestions as well for things to do to keep toddlers busy during school time. And while this independent activity time is a necessity (and frankly, a valuable skill for us to train in our children), we are often left with nagging feelings of guilt. I like how Stephanie Buckwalter put it in her review of The Growing Homeschool: "This book spoke to me [about] what to do with the little ones and not feel like you are ignoring them for hours at a time (not that you really can but sometimes it feels like it)." Doesn't it sometimes feel like we're just ignoring our little guys? Try as we might, balancing homeschooling, home management, family relationships, and more often seems like an elusive goal, and we just end up frustrated.

There is no end to the information out there, but in sifting through it all, it seems to me that we run the risk of missing the forest for the trees. We focus with tunnel vision on the systems and strategies that will help us in our daily routines (more things to check off on our to-do lists!), but we fail to take a necessary step back. A big-picture perspective of homeschooling with little ones is a vital starting point to promoting the peaceful home atmosphere that we all desire.

Children Are a Blessing 

I'll be the first one to admit that it sometimes takes a conscious effort to remind myself that children are a blessing. God's Word tells us, "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward" (Ps. 127:3). Jesus himself taught that "Whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me" (Matt. 18:5). It is vital to remember that the Lord values our children, and so should we. We need to see all of our children—especially, in this season, our babies and toddlers—as precious to the Lord, given as gifts to us so that we might help shape them to serve Him. Easy to say, often hard to remember as we rush about each day, wishing that our toddlers would just learn to behave so that our daily routines would go without a hitch. In the busyness of everyday, and particularly with the added responsibility of academically educating older children, we need to stay grounded in the truth of the Scriptures and sustain the heart attitude that God desires of us in regard to our little ones.

First Things First 

Early in our homeschooling journey, I would often describe us as a "homeschooling family." Makes sense, no? As we went along, however, the Lord showed me that even though I might say that, in my heart I needed to see it differently: We are a family who happens to homeschool. This subtle distinction in description helps me to maintain a proper perspective on our day-to-day lives. No matter what else we are doing (schoolwork, chores, or what have you), we try to focus first on our family relationships.