So, what do we do? The answer is quite easy-BUSY WORK!
I have this closet under my stairs. We call it the quiet closet. Not because we put bad kids in there when they need to be quiet! Ha! Because everything in this closet is made to be played quietly with. Now that doesn't mean they won't find a way to be noisy, but I keep the littles moving so that they don't get bored with what they are doing.
This corner of the closet has all of our craft supplies and also hold lacing dolls and magnetic paper dolls.
This is their little coloring caddy. Olivia got this as a birthday gift, and it's such a great little tool.
This is where I store construction paper, old magazines, and paper scraps. I had just cleaned it out after we finished school this year, so it's all fresh and clean to start next year.
This is the other corner. This is where I store all of our games, puzzles, and busy learning toys as well as a few other craft supplies.
This top shelf also has all of our puppets(in that purple bag and on stands). Be sure to use those reusable bags for organizing stuff. They are so handy!
This is an upclose picture of the puzzles. I'm hoping to get some of the shoe box sized storage boxes to put the floor puzzles in soon.
I also get them involved in whatever ways I can in our regular school day. If I'm doing an experiment I'll give them a simple job, if I'm doing math I'll give them counting bears or tangrams, if I'm doing history I'll give them a color sheet that goes along with our lesson. Don't underestimate their ability to listen while coloring!! There have been so many times when my littles will remember something my big kids didn't because they were sitting at the table coloring while I was teaching.
I also have them do a lot of story narration. That's where I'll read a story to them, then have them retell me the story. You'd be surprised with how many details even the littles ones can remember. It's good to stretch their little minds and keep them busy. It also gets them interested in stories, which is another way I keep my little kids busy while I'm working. I introduce books to them from the time they are having tummy time as newborns, and ALL of my kids LOVE to read or at least LOOK at books now. Start out with books they can't rip(board or foam books. I usually get mine from the dollar store so it's OK if they get chewed! Target also has a good selection in their one spot section). As they learn to be responsible with their things introduce other books. New books, library books, picture books, word books. BOOKS! They will learn to sit quietly and look. When they have one they'd really like me to read aloud to them I'll have them put it up on the table, then when I'm free I'll have them come sit on my lap and read it to them as a reward for sitting patiently.
For littles under 2 I use my pack-n-play with toys that they only get to play with while they are in there. I also put their lovie and a paci in there in case they get ready to rest. There have been a few times when my baby will sleep in there while we do school.
I usually hold the littlest baby in a sling while I teach. You can still have hands free and teach and the baby has no idea you aren't holding them. Amelia lived much of her life in a moby while I was teaching. My sling of choice is the Moby because there are so many ways to use it. Find a sling that fits comfortably for you and go to town! You'd be surprised at what you can do with a baby in a sling!
If ALL else fails, I will also get the kids out back-up toys upstairs in the playroom. That's for in the case of getting out of control I can send them upstairs to play while I'm getting important things done(like delivering a math lesson). Remember that you homeschool in your HOME. You want to make the process comfortable for EVERYONE. Even those littles. They shouldn't be seen as the problem or a distraction. View them as the blessing that they are. Change your perspective and see life through THEIR eyes. Curb your school day to fit their needs. I promise this will help your day go smoothly, and increase your teaching time with older kids too! Enjoy the summer, and get those quiet closets ready for next year!!!