Edited by LoveOurBabies - 2/18/13 at 1:56am
We've schooled with a toddler, preschooler and or newborn ALOT!!! Our kids are ages 14,9,7,5,2 and new. My rule of thumb when a newbie arrives, is that we will lose at least a half year of school. So far its been okay and we've been able to "catch up" etc.
My oldest is schooling on her own and my 9 year is doing somethings on her own. we read ALOT during those times and school when the toddler is sleeping. The newborns have never been a problem as they sleep all the time anyway. I just wear them and school.
Try not to fret, many homeschoolers find they get way more done per school year than traditional school because of being one on one :)
It's our first year homeschooling my 9 year old, while my 5 year old just started public K. My two year old his home with us. It's been amazing. We do about 2-3 hours of schoolwork per day, about half together and about half independent. We tried several forms of structure: assigning and scheduling each day, assigning a whole week at a time but still broken down by days. Finally we settled on a list of assignments to be completed for the week, with independent work marked as such. I also give her a calendar at the start of the week, color coded, that indicates her structured activities, her time to work on schoolwork, playtimes, and anything else that's going on. That way, she knows that she's got time set aside for school and for play. It's helped her to see more clearly that when she dilly-dallies, she gets less playtime.
When we're working together, the toddler is usually pretty happily engaged with her own stuff. I did have to work really hard the first month or so on my own heart, and on realizing that she's not a disruption to my schooling, but rather that schooling is a part of our homelife, which includes the more urgent needs of a toddler. When our assignment calls for reading, we all snuggle on the couch and read. Bookwork I keep in magazine storage folders, and I gave a couple to the toddler as well. They're filled with coloring books, cutting activities, tracing. She gets excited about doing schoolwork! She also has a box of toddler activity bags that she uses only during the time that her big sister is doing school. Some days she also works on puzzles, or walks around dusting everything, pretends to cook in her kitchen, or does playdough. I do try to have my older daughter alternate (at least somewhat) the independent and together assignments. That way I can give more focused attention to my toddler during the times that my older daughter is working independently.
We also do at least one field trip a week, and I have mom's group one morning a week. On those days we do "school" (the 2-3hrs) while the toddler naps, with homework to be completed in the afternoon. While it's different than our "typical" day, it's on the schedule and so the timing doesn't come as a surprise to my structure-loving daughter.
Not to make it sounds like we're all roses over here. Occasionally my girls do have competing needs and sometimes that's tricky. During choir, the little one wakes up early from her nap to take big sis over, and then has to play quietly (with me) for an hour. This morning she really wanted my undivided attention, while my big girl also wanted that. We ended up negotiating and after some tears, settled that I'd do one puzzle with the little one, then read one story to the big one, then do one more puzzle. When the little one has to go to the doctor or something, the big one loses out on school time and therefore has to do that during her planned playtime. She's getting savvier at it though, and today actually brought some assignments with her!
Observing the sisterly relationship that's developing between my two girls has been worth a thousand-fold the "disruption" of having the little one around.