This is my third year homeschooling. I am no where NEAR experienced in this department, but I do still have a little experience. Our oldest son is in 2nd grade, and we have a kindergartener, a 3-year-old, and a 16 month old.
The biggest problem I encounter, and the most frequent question I hear is: “What do you do with the other kids, the younger ones?”
I am trying to follow the Charlotte Mason approach (or at least my interpretation of it), and the My Father’s World curriculum is a Classical/Charlotte Mason curriculum. And, with my Kinder boy being developmentally delayed we take LOTS of breaks. We take brain breaks and incorporate movement, which we all do together. We take book breaks and read all together. We do bible memorization together. Some art we do together, even some science. Of course, there is more rigidity and note booking/copy work for my oldest, but we still involve the younger kids in the activity. My oldest is competent enough that he can sit down and do that work while the others move on to a different task, which is usually eating. Do y’all’s kids eat like mine?!
Things like math, language arts, individual reading, and anything else that needs specific and individual attention, we do at nap time. That gives us a solid 2-3 hour block from other distractions to focus on the daily individual requirements, and it allows me to only focus on 2 kids instead of 4. I would LOVE to be able to only school in the mornings like so many other people I know, but that’s just not what works for us right now. I am highly anticipating it in the next few years!
The thing is, kids learn best through experience and play. And while we do have actual “school time” it doesn’t take nearly as long as most people think it should. Plus, not every subject is an everyday thing. We do science 2-3 times per week. History is the same and with those days alternated, it makes an easy and fluid schedule to maintain. Some days, yes, we do have to work longer than nap time, or our 3-year-old gets up early, or whatever; LIFE HAPPENS and we go with the flow. If I need to, I will put on a Preschool Prep DVD. Which, by the way, is how my kids all learned their colors, numbers 0-10, shapes, and upper/lowercase letters by 2 years old. Even the ones who couldn’t really speak yet, they could point to them when asked. It is an EXCELLENT resource to have and I am so glad I was turned on to it. They also have letter sounds and sight words in a separate pack.
The biggest piece of advice I can give to one who is struggling with what to do with little kids who aren’t “in school” yet, is to un-structure. Unless you have older children, it’s okay if you have less “academic” and more “experience” learning. Your children will not fall behind. Take small moments like snack time or outside time, where Littles are occupied, and teach those book learning things to your big kids. Most concepts can be easily grasped in about 15 minutes, then you can come back to them later in the day for reinforcement, like work sheets, or copy work, or what ever it is you do in your home.
What options do you have for keeping your little ones occupied? How do you manage to school your big kids at home, while also managing your littles?