Homeschooling with Babies and Toddlers: Quiet TIme Inside: Homeschooling with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers-Let me introduce you to my greatest secret for Survival Crib-time, Play-pen time, and Room time. Without a safe place to play, and a routine, my boys literally climb the walls… Parenting has changed so much since my oldest son was born, we need to clear up some basic vocabulary, so there is no confusion. Parenting Vocabulary: Room time: a block of time ranging from 5-60 minutes built into your child’s schedule where they play alone in a safe and secure environment. Alone: child is in a safe, and confined play space just out of sight of parent. Out of sight: baby/child cannot see mom, but mom is fully aware of what child is up to. Parent: the one in control of child’s routine. Child: little person being trained for future success as a functioning adult. Parent guided: parent decides what child will do. Period. Choice: the opportunity to enjoy the activity or go without fun time. Neglect: never a part of healthy child rearing and training. Controversial: Talking about parenting techniques that put the parent in control. 1. Prepare Place toys in bins, preferably in an area that you as the parent can easily control. Choose which toys are for crib-time/room-time. Safe Place From as early as the time when a baby can sit safely, begin setting baby in a playpen/crib with a safe age appropriate toy, or bin of toys. Timer Set timer for 5-15 minutes. Turn on music. Say “It’s play time”. Leave, But Be Attentive Leave the area, but stay alert. I have some children who are more prone to danger than others. ReEnter When timer “dings” quietly re-enter and say something like “play times over, time to clean up”. I always sang the cleanup song. Help child clean up their space. Mama, please remember, “If they can empty a basket/bin, then they can be trained to fill it!” Take the time to teach your children to clean up after themselves. Routine Schedule a play time in the morning, before snack time or outside time; one for just before nap time in the afternoon, or just before dinner prep time. Practice Makes Perfect Over time, slowly increase the amount of time, until the child can self-entertain for 45-60 minutes. Why build in quiet play time? Maintains parental control over baby’s environment Provides safe play area Keeps baby/toddler right where you need them to stay Provides an area of focus Encourages self-entertainment Stimulates concentration Unlocks creativity Creates peace and stability in the child’s day Vary locations: Remember: the goal of playtime is to train contentment while simultaneously creating a safe environment for learning. I recommend varying the location of playpen time at least once a week. This helps the child be more flexible. I have one child who craves routine far more than his other brothers, this varying of location helped him a great deal! Safe Environments: I added age appropriate toys and activities to the play area Crib Playpen High Chair Baby gate to keep child safely in the room I chose. Pet corrals (like the one picture above. This one worked beautifully for outdoor play! Car Seats. That’s right. I used a car seat in my home to help little ones sit for a short period of time. Rewards of Scheduled Independent Play: All five of my boys enjoyed this quiet and controlled play environments. I can’t tell you all the benefits I have seen over the years, but here are a few of the best ones: Kids learn to focus Kids have time to really explore a toy, story or idea I could use these pockets of time to focus on older kids and their harder subjects. Kids developed and created incredible “inventions” This pocket of time transitioned to quiet reading time (or Lego Time) as the boys got older. Encourages self-control Still a highlight of each boy’s day I wish I could help you understand how big of an asset it has been for me to have this pocket of time trained into my boys’ days. Here are some things they have created or completed during quiet time: Cowboys in action. He made glasses. He followed the directions and built his robot. Notice… I have him on my kitchen counter. I am right there preparing a meal. The other boys were in their quiet zones, but this little guy was required to play quietly with the stickers I gave him:. He knitted his own beanie on a knitting loom. )All five of my boys were taught to knit on a loom.) This is his OWN Lego Creation! He made a huge Turkey. (The picture doesn’t do it justice) He solved his rubik’s cube. Notice, most of these pictures show older kids: ages 3 and up. That is on purpose for two reasons: 1. My baby pictures are not digital and I am lazy:). 2. We train our babies so that they can reap the rewards later. Babies and toddlers that learn to sit still, play quietly and concentrate grow up to be incredible artists, builders, musicians, thinkers, readers, writers, gardeners, etc. Last word: Have patience. Any child can be trained to accept and love quiet time, but it takes thought and patience on your part. When I first learned about this possibility I already had a wild 5 year old and an infant. It took time to retrain the 5 year old, but I was patient and always made it a positive activity. Last, Last word: Are my kids perfect? (she gets up from laughing on the floor…) No way! There were days that the kids “chose” to complain or whine through their quiet time. I still pressed on. 98% of the time, they settled down and focused within a few minutes. (music helped set the mood) There were days that they refused to help clean up cheerfully. (They still were required to clean up.) There were many, many days that they threw fits because they did not want quiet time to end. (Never give in to fits. I always said, “If you want to play a few more minutes you need to ask cheerfully and nicely… Let’s try that again.” Then I would leave the room and say, “ready to try that again?” Then I would re-enter and give them a chance to ask correctly. The goal was training:) There were days they did not want to play with what I chose for them. But I was pretty firm. Some days I gave them a choice. I always gave them a bin/basket of books I chose. If they were done playing, they could read. They were not allowed to simply pull out other toys. **as they got older, they would clean everything up and ask if they could “please switch bins”. I never lost sight of the fact that “I was training them in the way they should go”. It is my job as mama to teach my boys how to play, how to speak, how to listen, how to concentrate, how to respond, how to clean-up, how to sit still, etc. Your Turn: Do you train/schedule parent controlled quiet time in your day?