Thursday, January 24, 2013

"What do you do with the younger kids while trying to homeschool?!?"

This is a question I have been asked many, many times.  I know I don't have THE answer, but I do have the answer for what works for our family. 

Although none of my kids are technically "school-aged", I do have them split off into 3 groups.  My 4 and 3 year old I teach our core together. Then they both do different levels in reading and math.  My 2 year old is usually around listening to some of the stories, but I don't do any formal teaching with him.  And there is my baby who hangs out or is sleeping while I teach.  That all being said, the person who I have to keep most occupied while teaching is my 2 year old son, and that is a task in itself. 

1. Give them your attention first.


Max is always the first to wake up and the only thing he wants to do when he wakes up is read books with his daddy.  He gets about an hour of one on one time before everyone else wakes up. This works out great for me because he gets his attention first thing in the morning, plus he gets some educational time with all his books.

As for Ella, she requires the most attention after her afternoon nap.  If I am able to just spend 10 minutes holding, laughing and playing with her, she is usually good to go!

2. Include them in your teaching


-During breakfast and snacks is when I try and do our core readings.  Max loves to be a part of everything and this is an easy way for him to be included.

-When we do crafts, I either have Max do the same craft or something similar.  I know it's not going to turn out like it is supposed to, but again, he gets to do what his sisters are doing.

 
 
-During worksheets, Max always has the option to get up in his chair and color in a workbook or he can just have free play.



-Just last week we were working on measurements so  I gave Max his own measuring cups in the bathtub.




 

3. Have planned activities


Even when Max doesn't want to sit in his chair, I still try to incorporate some sort of "teaching" activities while I am working with the girls.

-I have given him a baggie full of crayons and ask him to pick out the color we need.
 
 
-I put out our number mat and ask him for find the right number and then jump that many times.


-I give him a pair of scissors and a bunch of paper and let him have at it to work on his fine motor skills.


- Use educational toys.  These stacking cups are a family favorite.  In between working with the the older kids, I ask him to stack, count, and name colors. 





4.  Let them explore 

The fun in being a kid is being able to explore, right?  My house is very baby proof, so chances of him getting hurt or getting into something I don't want him in are pretty slim.  The odds they are going to make a mess, probably!!

Max pulled out all of the craft supplies

Ella got into all the puzzles



 Plus, you never know what he will find to do. I love when I look over and he is sitting quietly reading a book, or playing nicely by himself.  Max is really pretty good at just toddling around while the rest of us are busy.

 
 
 
 
 

5. Have the older kids "entertain" the little ones

 
While this may work better when you have bigger kids, my kids do pretty good at it.  It can usually get me by for 5 or 10 minutes if I am trying to wrap things up.  They actually feel pretty special when it is their turn to "take care" of Max or Ella.  They do anything from finding a game to play, read stories, or just make funny faces at Ella.  These are actually some of my favorite memories when I look over and see them playing so sweetly together.
 
Addison reading a book to Max
 
Laney took both Max and Ella downstairs to play legos

video
 
Max keeping Ella entertained while I finish math lessons with the older girls
 
 
 
video
 
Addison Reading to Ella
 
 

6. Don't forget the sling

 
My sling is a lifesaver!  Late afternoon while I am trying to finish thing up and try to get dinner started, Ella will just snuggle up and I have both hands free!
 
She fell asleep on one of our afternoon walks.



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