Homeschooling with Tots, Part 1

IMG_5790I got an email recently from the lovely Sarah (who I miss terribly because she doesn't blog anymore) about homeschooling with little ones.  I wrote her about a 4 page email and then looked back at the mass of thoughts I scattered all over the place and the messy tangents and thought what was that poor woman going to think when she got this in her email box?

Then I thought, ok, I have a degree in English and writing, I should be able to fix this right?  And if I am going to fix it I might as well share it with all of you too.

I am no expert.  So all I can offer you is what we do and how we handle the chaos that can be life homeschooling with little ones under foot.  The thing is that what I do may not work for your family.  I am lucky to have older kids who will help me whenever I ask but I have done it the other way too.  I have had little ones and younger homeschooled kids and there is no way around it... it is not easy.

Here are a few things I do to help distract the little ones.

The first thing is to try and involve them as much as possible.  Every morning we start our "school day" with prayer (preferably a rosary), a saint story, and then we listen to a novel on Librivox (we are working our way through the Anne of Green Gables series right now).  This gives me a break too.  I get to listen to a book and knit.  Now this sounds idyllic.  Reality is this, today when we were praying the rosary Sweet Pea was putting a veil on her head and was prancing around the living room making us giggle during our Hail Marys.  She was the complete epitome of precocious!  Bear was sitting on the ground looking at a book during all this.

When we do our Alphabet All The Time stuff, I always print off extra coloring sheets for Bear.  He may not listen to the saint story as well as the others (especially if it is a long one) but he will generally color unless he is busy doing something else.  Bear also has his own journal.  We journal every morning.

I don’t look at anyone’s journal unless they want to share it with me.  It is their private little thing that they can color in, write in, whatever.  This is a great distraction for Bear.  I don’t know why, honestly, but he will sit there for most of the morning happily scribbling away in his journal.  I think it really makes him feel like one of the big kids and he is right there at the table with us.  While they are journaling I can pull together what I need for the younger kids.

Along with involving them I also try and distract them!  I used to pop in movies or let the littles play computer games and such but I have since learned from that mistake.  It is a huge distraction for the older kids. Also, screen time will only create more pent up energy in the long run.  Get a bunch of really cool Melissa and Doug puzzles, their own journals, stuff like that and rotate out toys.  Don’t feel bad if you have to ask one of the older kids to go read the little ones a story.  They will be reading and helping keep the young ones distracted.  Win! 

IMG_4200Speaking of rotating toys!   I have just started to do this in the living room.  The kids were wild about blocks for maybe a month, then not so much.  So I switched them with a basket of stuffed animals.  So it keeps they toys kind of fresh.  I watch them too, to see when interest is waning and that is a good hint to switch out some of the toys.  That way if I am working at the table they can be playing with "new" toys in the living room, which is adjoined to the area we homeschool in, so I can keep an eye on the too.

As for really little ones, I have had a true challenge with Sweet Pea.  Remember my precocious comment?  Yeah.  She has to be a part of things, right in the thick of it or left alone.  Don’t tell her she cannot go somewhere or not do something.  I was forced the weekend before last to actually get locks on all the cabinets and go through specific rooms so that she can wander the house.  Bathroom doors HAVE to be closed at all times, etc.  Otherwise I would never get any peace and nothing would ever get done!  Rotating the toys helps with her too, but making sure she has a safe area to roam is huge!

Next time I am going to chat about a clean house and if I am truly an unschooler or not, lol.

Homeschooling Tots Part 2
Homeschooling Tots Part 3

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