Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homeschooling With "Littles"

I get this all the time, "How in the world do you do it?" (schooling so many little ones)
Well, let's just start with the fact that organization is KEY. Schedules are KEY. Hard work is KEY. HOWEVER, flexibility is also KEY. AND, we're not perfect (that's a big one!) Not everyday goes smoothly or how I like it. We have little guys, therefore we have distractions. We have spilled water, a two-year-old who likes to travel from room to room making messes. We have a rambunctious four-year-old who is "all boy" and very kinesthetic. We have a four-month-old who needs his mommy a lot. Once you come to realize these things and that everyday won't go perfectly, you're starting on the right track.
***{Just as a side note, when I was teaching in a traditional school, it was rare when everyday went exactly according to schedule also.}
We have a daily schedule that we follow (in 30 minute increments). We have morning and afternoon chore charts. We have certain times in the day when we do certain subjects. We have certain days when we do electives (Mondays-Art, Wednesdays-Polished Cornerstones, Thursdays-History, Fridays-Science). We also schedule out our electives according to our larger chores (got this nifty idea from the amazing book Large Family Logistics...a must have for every mommy, even if you don't have a large family!): Mondays-Laundry Day, Tuesdays-Office Day, Wednesday-Baking Day, Thursdays-Errand Day, Fridays-Cleaning Day.
This helps keep things in perspective. Now, on to homeschooling with "littles"...

First, I try to make sure that Isaac (our 4-month-old) is down for his morning nap. This automatically eliminates one child's attention for Mommy. Then, I get Norah busy with something whether it be painting, stamp art, playing at the sink with bubbles, playing in a small tub of rice with toys on the porch where I can see her, placing her on a blanket with dollies and books, bringing out her dollhouse to play with nearby the table, playing with homemade play dough, coloring, gluing things to paper, etc. Sometimes, I let her sit on my lap and observe if she's behaving and quiet, but this is rare.

I actually keep a box for just Norah to play with for just this time. Sometimes, she likes to join us at the table and do "her school". I make extra copies of what we do (especially for Bible time at breakfast) for her because she likes to participate and she knows when it's the same thing/sheet her brother and sister are working versus when she has something different. Bottom line, she likes the same thing so even if I'm working on something totally irrelevant to a two-year-old, I make a copy for her to feel included (My Father's World homeschool curriculum...from what I've heard...is great at catering to this exact need with multiple children of different ages).

Many times, Lincoln (4-yrs.) will join her if I can see both of them, making sure no quarreling breaks out and if it does, I can discipline accordingly. For the most part, they get along because they don't want to be sitting along the wall missing out on the fun. I don't let the kids stamp, play at the sink, play with rice, etc. at any other part of the day. It's what keeps these activities exciting and keeps them busy while I school Avy.
Most of the time, as I have Isaac sleeping, Norah busy with an activity, I can school Lincoln and Avonlea together at the table. I give Lincoln his independent work while Avonlea needs instruction. Then I switch with Avonlea doing her independent work and Lincoln getting instruction. Sometimes, when Norah doesn't keep busy with an activity and I have a longer lesson with Avonlea, we'll put on an educational movie. I like movies because it's something I've previewed and it has an ending (sort of like a timer).
To sum things up, we pretty much have it down to a science now, but it took practice and time. It took a GOOD ATTITUDE on my part, patience and CONSISTENCY. Now, we move like clockwork. We have our days though, don't get me wrong. On days where things aren't running smoothly, we take a break and plop a blanket on the floor for some serious book reading. Funny, sometimes those days are what spark their learning the most. We'll read a book about tadpoles, then get an idea to go out to the pond and catch some, put them in a jar, draw pictures of their life stages, name it, try to find things to feed it, write a narrative story about it...endless learning. Real life learning. Life really is just one, big classroom! I only get one shot at this and I love learning alongside my children. What a precious gift.

1 comment:

Rachel E. said...

A well oil wheel always works best, doesn't it? Especially when the oil we use is the Lord's help.