One of the most common questions that I am asked about homeschooling is how I manage to homeschool with little ones. I would be lying to you if I told you that it is always easy and Pinterest perfect, but there are some tips and tricks that make it easier. First, I need to be clear that what works for one family or child may not work for another. If you are trying one plan and it doesn’t work, just keep adjusting until you find something that fits your needs.
If you have a baby or toddler that still naps, especially if they take multiple naps a day, I highly recommend using some of that time for schooling older children. That can be the time you provide them direct instruction in areas like math or spelling that may need more focused attention.
Another tip that really helped our family was spending time with the little ones first. This is especially helpful with toddlers and preschoolers. They crave our attention and will often be disruptive until they get it. If I spend a little time playing or working with them first, they are more apt to play independently for a few minutes while I work with my older children.
Often younger children have a fairly short attention span, so they may only play independently for a few minutes at a time. In this situation, you can have them playing near where you are working on school. Instruct your older children in a subject for five to ten minutes and then while they are practicing the skill you can spend time with your younger child. You are available to answer questions but still giving your younger child attention. Then you can have them play independently again for a few minutes while you instruct the next subject. We tend towards a Charlotte Mason approach, and so our lessons are fairly short. This also has the benefit of helping your older child learn independence while still having you available and involved.
If you have more than one school age child, they can take turns playing with the younger children while you work with the other child. We have utilized this for subjects that are independent and more challenging for the older child. For example, there have been times when my older children struggled with math and needed more help.
This is not an option for everyone, but it has been an amazing help for me. If you have a grandparent or other family member that is willing to help, they can come once a week and visit with the younger children for a few hours while you work on the areas of your school that need the most focus. This gives the double benefit of giving your younger children some wonderful time and memories.
Also, remember that you do not need to do school all at once. While it can be nice to start in the morning and work straight through until you are done, in some seasons it is easier to break it up into small chunks throughout the day.
Finally, do not under estimate how much younger children can be engaged and involved in various subjects. You can go on nature walks to work on science with your older children and keep your younger kids active, young children can listen to you read aloud while they color or play with quiet toys, preschoolers can join into history crafts and art lessons.
There are challenges to having small children while you homeschool older children, but there are ways to make it all work. In the end, remember that you are creating a lifestyle of learning and they will all benefit from learning together. Next week I will share specific ideas for keeping toddlers and preschoolers busy (and hopefully out of trouble) during that independent time. Please be sure to check out all of the great ideas from some other bloggers and how they make their schedules work. What are your favorite scheduling tricks for managing younger children and older children?
Ideas and Suggestions From Other Bloggers
- Homeschooling with a Preschooler and Toddler (Teaching with Faith)
- J is for Jewel Box (At Home: Where Life Happens)
- R is for Routine (My Full Heart)
- Multi-Age Learning (My Full Heart)
- Homeschooling with a Toddler (My Full Heart)
- Teaching Multiple Ages (Hodgepodge)
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