Thursday, February 21, 2013

Homeschooling with littles

In light of the latest giveaway from Vision Forum, I've begun thinking about life with littles. Although, I've been parenting littles for the past 6 years, I am constantly learning new tips and tricks. And as soon as something starts to work and I feel like things might be "settling down" a bit, something new and surprising happens and I find myself starting back at square one. But that's okay. I've gleaned so much wisdom from my mom friends, fellow bloggers and several inspirational authors.

I often get asked: how do you homeschool your 1st grader while taking care of your other children (who are currently ages 4, 2 & 9-months)? These kind of questions always throw me for a loop because honestly, some days it's hard for us to even get out of our pajamas! I'm also fascinated by other homeschooling mom's stories. I love to hear "how they do it" and find that there is so much to learn from one another!

So, I decided to put together some mom tips on homeschooling with littles. Enjoy!
  • For those times when you can't be holding baby, utilize baby activities toys such as an exersaucer and activity chair (assuming she can hold her head up/sit up on her own). A high chair with a 5-point harness and tons of toys on the tray can work just as well, too. No need to go out and buy fancy equipment. Baby might also enjoy a playpen filled with toys, right in the thick of things so she can watch what's going on. Siblings at play can offer hours of amusement!
little girl
  • Strategically plan snack times and feedings. Older babies and toddlers alike can be occupied for a few extra minutes this way. I often can get in a quick lesson while baby finger feeds herself and while the middles sit down for a morning snack. 

  • Work on blanket training (a concept explained by Michelle Duggar in The Duggars: 20 and Counting).  I find that baby is happy in the middle of the room on a blanket with a bunch of toys, so long as she can see the action going on around her.
  • Find creative ways to occupy-- yet engage-- toddlers. Two ways that I've found tremendously helpful are busy bags (just Google it!), audio storybooks and music. Right now the middles are enjoying Curious George audio storybooks.
  • Do arts and craft projects that engage all ages! 
  • Make the most out of nap time. We reserve nap time-- which is also quiet time for those who no longer nap-- for math. I've found that my 1st grader can easily get distracted in this subject so, in order to set him up for success, we do this when fewest distractions exist!
big brother
  • Use everyday, real life opportunities to teach your children. Baking a cake for a family member? Have your "students" measure the ingredients. Need to run an errand to the bank? Teach your students about money and saving and stewardship. Beautiful day outside? Let your students outside in the fresh air to experience God's magnificent creation!
  • Have realistic expectations of what your school at home is going to look like. For us this means that we aim to accomplish 3-4 lessons every school day. We choose to space them out throughout the day as this seems to be the best way for my 6-year-old son. He usually doesn't sit at a desk but instead at the kitchen island or on the living room couch. We do have a designated school room which houses most of our materials and our school computer. Sometimes we do our lessons in there, most times we do not. Sometimes we take a break for a freeze dance party. We're not going by one curriculum  we are choosing bits and pieces from several. This is how our school at home looks. And, honestly, this is not how I visualized it a few years back when I first considered homeschooling (yet I love how it has turned out)!
Finally, have confidence that you are your child's best teacher. And don't forget what a blessing it is to raise children for His glory! Homeschooling with littles is possible... it just takes some creativity, a pinch of patience and a whole lot of love!

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