Short of tying them up or wrapping them mummy style...What do you do with young ones while attempting to educate the older ones?
I have had the joy of homeschooling our boys for now almost eight years. The time has gone by in a blur and that is partially due to the fact that there were little speedy cherubs flying by me in that blur, while I dutifully taught another how to hold a pencil, read, write and cipher! When I began teaching Ben his second semester of kindergarten, Daniel was four and Jonathan almost two. Needless to say there was some juggling that took place. I managed somehow, but since Katie has come along, I have been much more challenged with many ages and stages.
I have found out the hard way that unattended toddlers can cause messes, and breakage! Therefore, wherever I am, there she is also! I keep a short leash on the busybodies and everything is much more peaceful! Katie loves being with me and is always a "help" in the kitchen. I have discovered that the dirtier and the more cooked on food, the better she likes her scrubbing! By the way friends, it takes longer and that means more time for me to get something done!
She is happy to be right there under my armpits baking and licking the spoon! It makes so much sense to have her helping me, so that she is not terrorizing boys that are attempting to do an assignment! This is nice, because they get their work done, I get something done and she is occupied!
I often assign her a place to stay on days that she can't settle down. Sometimes the smaller the better! This particular day she was thrilled to sit in the basket with an egg carton, oatmeal and measuring spoons and cups. I usually will tell her what "work" she must do for her school. She is so proud to show me her completed task!
Again the kitchen is her favorite spot. I know where she is and she is content to be doing productive work. It's excellent for a little mommy in training to learn these kitchen tasks.
When I am actually involved in teaching the boys, Katie has an area in our school room that is her assigned spot. She has many "busy buckets" that she plays with only during school time. Some buckets are play dough, others are lacing and bead stringing while others might be making patterns with pegs. If it is a day that again she can't stay put, I move her to a high chair and choose the bucket for her to play. Since she is getting older, she is free to build and play in her area with the toys that are already there. Many days however, she needs direction prior to me starting with the boys.
Boys that aren't needing my immediate instruction, are free to play quietly in our schoolroom as well. It just helps to keep everyone together, so that I stay on task. Sometimes if everyone goes their different directions "quietly" then I loose my momentum and forget to keep us going down our daily checklist of school work.
It is a challenge to school multi-ages, but I have found staying together, the older ones entertaining the younger ones and small activities for the littles helps more than anything! If all else fails, put the little one to bed and do school during naptime! There are those days!