Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Home Schooling With Littles

A sweet sister of littles asked me for advice on how to keep a two year old happy while Mama does school with an older sibling.

I forget how blessed I am to have older children who help so much. It has been awhile since I have only had young ones, but though I could give it a shot and throw out some ideas in general.

  • If at all possible, have an older sibling play with the younger one. This does take some serious training for both parties involved, but it is well worth it! The 'older' sibling can be trained to be "Mama's Helper" or "Preschool Teacher". I think this works with the 'older' child even as young as 4 or 5 years old, and the 'younger' child 1 or 2 years old.

  • Train the younger one to play alone for upwards of twenty minutes. Some moms use playpens or blanket time. We use a bath towel and train them to stay on the towel playing quietly for a set amount of time. You almost always have to start small and work your way up to longer times. It helps to have special toys reserved only for this time. Use a timer! Do the training at a separate time from teaching school unless you have the patience of a saint!

  • Figure out what your priorities are and rearrange your schedule. If doing school is a big priority and it is not happening, something else needs to go. You might need to give up something of 'yours' to make school happen in this season. Seek the Lord and your husbands input on your most important things (MITs, more on this in another post)and purpose to only do those things.

  • Keep school sessions as short as possible and break them up. Fifteen to twenty minutes should be more than enough for a phonics, reading or math lesson at any one time. Three or four short lessons spread throughout the day are much easier to fit in.

  • Skip the extras! History, Science, health, typing, gym, field trips, art, ect. I personally believe in the early years, unless you have tons of free time, these 'subjects' are simply not the best use of time. Stick to the basics. I know curriculum companies sell all kinds of extras, but save yourself the time, money and energy and teach the three R's in these early years. Read to them, play with them, play Play-doh, paint, include them in on everything you do, and your first or third grader will be miles ahead of their public school counterparts.

  • Use nap time, highchair time, even bath time. You could certainly get a math lesson in while your babe eats cubed cheese and fruit. You could do a phonics lesson on the bathroom floor while the baby takes a bath, a long bath. ;-) I'm sure it goes without saying~don't leave the baby alone in the tub unattended, right?

  • If you can handle the noise, the pots and pans cupboard can provide a good twenty minutes.

  • Night School. Do school when your husband is home. This is hard for me;I wanted to do school during the day! But, for a season it might bring lots of peace and free you up to play and work together during the day.

  • Flex and Flow. My husband always threw this one at me, gently of course. I hated it for the longest time. I like schedule and routine! But the ability to flex and flow is something well worth learning...earlier rather than later, trust me on this one!

This season is probably the hardest season to home school through. Pray for wisdom! God will give you unique ideas that will work specifically for you and your family. Constantly re-evaluate what God expects you to do. You probably are going to have to let your expectations go. Learn quickly to be so sensitive to the Holy Spirit and let Him guide you through your day. This is easy, unless of course you have your own will, ideas and expectations. ;-)

If you commit your way to Him, trust also in Him, He will bring it to pass. But, here's the rub, you need to trust Him with what gets done! If you have followed Him and leaned on Him you can rest peacefully at night regardless of how many pages in the math book you got done! Let your expectations go, let what the 'teacher's guide' says go, Trust Him to guide you.

Below are all the ideas I have collected over the years. They are what I call "Preschool Ideas". Each year I revise and print this list up to keep in my Home School Notebook for quick reference. Some of the lists I have no idea where they came from, probably from a desperate search of the Internet some year long ago. Please feel free to print them up, save them to your computer and adapt the list. Whatever you find to be the most helpful. Preschool Ideas

Also, I just did a brief search for 'activities for preschooler" or 'ziploc activity bags' and came up with a ton of ideas.

Please feel free to ask any questions to clarify what I have posted or share any and all ideas you might have.

This post is part of Works for Me Wednesday.


Colored With Memories said...

i'm so glad you posted this. we are considering homeschooling...and this lady's question to you is one of my biggest hindrances to not wanting to do it...what to do w/the younger child(ren)....love you ideas! thanks!

Nichole said...

Thank you for the tips!

jubilee said...

Thank you for your insight. I am currently doing preschool/kindergarten readiness at home and my youngest, though ready, cannot attend kindergarten next fall (his birthday falls four days short of the deadline), so I am considering homeschooling him for the year.

Christin said...

Thank you! Excellent suggestions! I have 3 littles at home and one "middle" that is schooled. I need all the help I can get!

Amy Ellen said...

thank you for the tips! i have two sweet littles right now... and two "in school."

Wani said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm going to get serious about doing home-pre-school this fall and I'm still formulating our game plan. Thanks for the tips!

Hadley said...

Great tips! Right now I only have a kindergartener and a preschooler so we don't have too much time spent doing school each day.

I am actually finishing up participating in a ziplock activity swap for preschoolers!

I have a list in my binder of activities the younger one can do during school (or dinner prep!)

Kristi said...

Thank you so much for this - I have a 3 and 1 year old, so "school" pretty much consists of an occasional book and 5 minute discussion here and there, but I'm already wondering what to do in a couple of years!! I appreciate your experience and input!!

Amanda Sikes said...

Thank you so much for this wisdom. This will help so much! I am going to pull from some of those preschool ideas for both my 4 and 2 year old while I do first grade with the oldest.
Thanks for such a quick answer to my question. God is teaching me right now that nothing should be our "god" other than HIM. Sometimes even a schedule can become a "god" if we are not sensitive to the leading of His Spirit as to what our day should include.
Thanks again!