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Homeschooling With An Active Little One

I am often asked how I homeschooled with a baby while having six children (ages 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, and 16 when Bo was born) who were all homeschooled. 

How do we fit all the academic stuff in for the older kids on top of adding in school for the younger kids?

  1. We did as much as we could while the baby (and then toddler) napped. 
  2. The older kids helped out with the younger kids. From Nathan carrying Bo in the ergo while doing dishes to Jordan studying while Bo, who was happy to have a change of scenery, played in his room. 
  3. We did what was most important each day. In the morning, I prayed for God to order our day and trusted that He would guide us through. You can see our day-in-the-life series to see real life in action. (You have to scroll back through the older posts to get to when Bo was little to see life with a baby and toddler.) Some of those talk more about our daily life and I answer questions on chores and more. 
  4. I tried not to worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself when we get there. 

As a baby, Bo napped a lot as most babies do. We jumped right back into learning a week after he was born. It was easy with Sonlight because most of our school was books and cuddles on the couch. I could nurse and hold a sleeping baby easily. In the mornings, the older boys got all my attention, while the younger two played. In the afternoons after the boys were done with their school, I did school with the younger two, Malachi and Eliana. We did Sonlight P4/5 and Five in a Row. We rarely rowed a book 5 days in a row. We spread them out over two weeks to make it easier on me. I almost always burnt out if I tried to row in one week. I usually make a point to mention this in each row so my readers don't think I did all that in one week. 

When Boaz was 7 1/2 months, he was into exploring everything. He was crawling, pulling himself up, walking along furniture and into anything he can reach. So, all the lower shelves in our school area became his very own spaces to keep his little hands busy. 

His learning toys were geared towards ages 6-36 months so they would grow with him.

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Geared towards ages 6-36 months, these were also a hit with my 4 year old. She especially liked to play with the piggy bank.

When I took these, Bo kept closing it and opening it to see the tool inside. :) He loves his happy spaces!

  • Fill and Spill Balls (inspired by Sassy Fill and Spill Barrel) I just used a dollar store container and some ball pit balls for him to "fill and spill." (He is just dumping them out at this age, lol)
  • Shape Sorter (I don't remember the name)
  • Pound & Play Fun Drum

Kitchen basket includes anything from the kitchen that is baby safe, such as:
  • canning rings
  • silicone muffin cups
  • funnels
  • stainless steel bottles
  • plastic bowls and lids

He made his rounds making a mess at each space. 

In the living room:

Photo Stacking Blocks ~ I had acrylic photo frames on our fridge and Bo loves to look at them. It's so cute - he giggles when he sees them and then knocks them all off the fridge. So I thought he would like a set of photo stacking blocks.  I was right! I've only given him one, but it is a hit. 

Wee Wedgits {link to my review} I had these put away for now, but will bring them out again.

Not pictured: I had hankies in a tissue box for him to pull out, homemade quilted rag letters for him to feel (I keep them on a shelf he can reach).

I planned to put half of these toys away and rotate them. Bo was a busy boy. He moved quickly from one thing to the next and made his "rounds." He pulled everything off the shelves, dumped over the baskets, and chewed on his toys.  It kept him happy for a good amount of time and we are all much happier when he is free to explore.

Board Books:

*I think these would be my favorites if I had to pick. Bo's favorites are Do You Know New?, Who Do You Love? and Big Red Barn.  I have some bigger board books, but will wait to pull them out. 

We signed with Bo whenever we can using easy signs like milk, drink, juice, eat, apple, banana, carrot, favorite, all done, more, love you, diaper (when I change him) and I fingered signing his name because he was a late talker (one of the reason's he was so high functioning). 

These were all a hit, but these spaces gradually changed as he grew older.

He loved to play with the Berkey water purifier, so I made him a water station right underneath. See Bo's space in the kitchen in Our Home School Home. He really loved big people toys at this age.

When he was two, I did Tot School Printables from 1+1+1=1 to keep him busy. 

We had letter baskets with fun games such as out letter B basket.

 We had themed books or baskets to go with each letter such as a bath basket for Letter B.

All of his tot school posts can be found at the top of my blog under Early Learning ---> Tot School With Bo ---> and then by each letter of the alphabet. Or you can find them and others on the Tot School Group Pinterest Board here.

These were so much fun and Bo looked forward to them almost every single day.

When he was 3, I made him a Morning Board, and we did preschool with Sonlight P 3/4 with a few Before Five in a Row books for fun.

When he was four, I did Sonlight P 4/5 and the second half of Before Five in a Row. One of the reasons I love Sonlight so much is because it teaches my child at an early age that he can listen to me read chapter books aloud and sets the stage for a rich literature based homeschool.

This is such a fun core! It's one of my favorites! Perfect for a 4 or 5 year old. See my Sonlight Learning Moments with Eliana to see our first time through this core.

And the reason I chose Before FIAR to be a part of our homeschool is because I wanted him to have memories of a wide variety of classic picture books as a child and make memories with more books. I also did All About Reading Pre-Reading with Bo. See his full 4K curriculum here with lots of pictures! :)

By this time, Bo was well into playing with toys and that kept him occupied for hours each day with Playmobil, cars, trains, GI Joes, Legos, blocks, and more. But, most of all he loves to play outside.

When he was five and was ready for Kindergarten, he was able to keep him self busy with playing and this was a good time to teach him to read with About Reading Level 1 Second Edition.
He also tagged along with our literature based unit studies and did some Five in a Row because I wanted to delay Sonlight Core A until he was 6.

Now that he is six, he will do Core A Introduction to World Cultures for 1st grade.

These past 6 years have been some of the hardest years of my life with such a busy baby as Bo was! He really rocked my world and blessed my socks off, but boy was it hard! This is just a glimpse at how I kept his little hands busy while schooling with the older boys who were doing Cores, F, G, H, and 100!


  1. Would you have any advice for me? We did 5 in a row last year. I used your blog a lot!!! My oldest son is turning 6 in October. Daughter will turn4 and I have a ten month old. I'm having trouble choosing curriculum. I do enjoy 5 in a row. It's a very rich curriculum. But I feel like the planning was overwhelming with a newborn. I like sonlight, but I also still love 5 in a row. Tried out HIS for a short while to test the waters, but we are having trouble really getting into it. I know that could be because we just had so much fun with FIAR, it's hard to compare.
    However, since you have used HOD, SONLIGHT, AND FIAR, wondering if you could provide any insight. Thanks in advance!

    This post will help me keep my little guy busy during school next year.

  2. I still love FIAR, too, but you are right in that it can be overwhelming, especially if you put your whole heart into it. When I started Sonlight with the little kids, I added rows that tied into what we were learning, instead of the other way around so that I still felt like I had the memory making fun and hands on learning of FIAR, but I still had the steadiness and literature richness of SL.

    This year, I am going to do what I did with FIAR with SL - in other words, I am going to just do SL and make it great - just like I did with FIAR. I'm ready for a break for FIAR, but like you, I don't want to miss the richness of what we had, so I'm just going to do what I did with FIAR with SL - use what I have learned to enhance whatever we are doing with SL. I would love to be able to row full time, but after all these years of rowing - even on and off - I am ready for a break.

    I tried HOD twice now (Little Hands and Bigger Hearts) but it is not a great fit for us. SL is a much better fit because I can teach multiple ages with one level.

    You can easily combine your 4 and 5 yo with one SL level. I'd recommend SL Pre-K (previously P 4/5) for both your 4 and 5 year olds and just do some fun stuff with those books as you have the energy and motivation.

    We had a lot of fun with FIAR, too, but we can have that richness with any book, or any curriculum, if we want to. I hope to share more about this on the blog - I started writing a post on how I plan to do this, so please stay in touch!

  3. Thank you so much for the thoughtful response! This was really freeing for me. As a new homeschooler it is overwhelming and because we had a fun year last year with five in a row I kind of felt like we would never be able to replicate The Memories We Made if I change curriculums. We really only got through volume 1 and I do like the books in volume 2 but as I mentioned it is overwhelming at times to plan. My only hesitation is I don't want to look back and wish I would have done 5 in a row again this year. But I love that we can create that richness with any curriculum. It's not the curriculum that makes the memories. It Is Us! I will definitely keep following the post. You inspire me in so many ways!

  4. I sincerely understand the hesitation. I was set to row around the world with Bo this year - had it all outlined with a plan on what we would row and what countries we would study. But, yes! You get it! You will make memories no matter what curriculum you use! The most important thing is to keep the love of learning alive and make memories! ❤️