A question that is often asked about homeschooling by first time homeschoolers or those that are interested in homeschooling is, "What do you do with your little ones when you are homeschooling?" My first year of homeschooling, Chelsea was going into 3rd grade, Nick was 3 1/2, Alex was 20 months, and Anthony was a newborn. Since that first year we have added 3 more children, so something that our family is quite used to is homeschooling with newborns/babies and homeschooling with toddlers/preschoolers. While different things work better for different families, this is what works for us.
Homeschooling is a family affair for us and that includes the little ones. I want them to feel included in our school day. We start out our school day working on subjects we all can do together Bible, History, Science, Art, Music, Read Alouds. The little ones either sit on someones lap or can play quietly in the room while we are reading. To minimize interruptions, I try to make sure babies have clean diapers, toddlers have gone potty, and everyone has had a drink of water before we get started. Of course there will be times that 5 minutes into reading someone will have to go potty, but there are going to be some interruptions when you have young children. Sometimes they forget to play quietly while I am reading and I will have to stop and give a reminder. After one reminder they have to put their toy away and come sit with me if they can't play quietly. We keep toys, coloring books,paper, crayons, picture books, puzzles, play dough where they can be reached without having to interrupt for someone to go get them. We do spend part of each day reading their favorite stories too!
After reading time we usually have some kind of hands on projects to do. We do most of our projects around the kitchen table. Our littles always want to participate in these so I make sure I have plenty of supplies to go around. I usually will just hold the baby or put her in her exersaucer while we are doing projects. If it is something that could be dangerous for the little ones, we will wait until nap time to work on it. If the boys have worksheets to do, I print off extras so the little ones can "do school" too.
After lunch is nap time for 3 and under and quiet time for the rest of the children. During this time they can get their independent work completed and I can work one on one with those who are learning something brand new or need help with something. The younger children K,2 ND grade need me to work with them much more than my 4th and 10th graders although I need to be available to help them if they are having trouble with something.
By 2:00 all of our school work is completed and the children get to have 30 minutes of media time. The rest of the day is productive free time until we have to begin evening chores.