Monday, September 26, 2011

Back-to-school: What to do with preschoolers while homeschooling older siblings?

This is a universal dilemma for homeschooling parents.
When I first began this journey of homeschooling 9 years ago, it wasn't much of an issue.
My then 2 year old would sit along with us sweetly as we read our books, or she would occupy herself quietly while I was doing something with her 5 year old sister.

Times have changed for us and our classroom has gradually filled up.
We've added 4 more children to the house....4 more to the classroom {We'll have a new kindergartner this year, plus one preschooler.}
In the last several years, we've always had 2-3 preschoolers floating around wanting to get their fingers into everything we were doing, and it can be very stressful at times.

I've read some great articles on this challenge that has helped shaped my thinking about this.
One of my favorite is found at Journeying With Joy.
There are lots of great ideas in that post!!

I've also had things for little ones to engage in while I was doing table work or crafts with older ones that needed my attention.
This year, as I prepared lessons for the older children, I also been prepared some new things for the youngest ones that they haven't seen before, as well as breathing new life into some of our old stand-bys.

Playing with our ABC's
Learning how to put the alphabet in sequential order.
Learning how to put letter sounds together to spell words.

This is a simple little activity that my 11 year old can put together for her siblings!

Use as fun little toppers for your cupcakes at your "Back to School" party!! 

Click on the title above for the link to where you can purchase your own set!!

These are so much fun for all ages and teaches early geometry and shapes!

It comes with lots of cards with pre-made designs or..... can sort by shape....or.... color.

Wooden puzzles
Let's not forget the simple pleasures of puzzles.
Lots of different kinds available, but I think the trick to making them fun,
is to not make them available all the time.
Keep them special for "school time" for your little ones, so they don't get bored with them.

Check out these puzzles at Melissa and Doug.

I LOVE these products.
Super bright, super cute!!
Check out their website by clicking on the title above!!

 And let's not forget the great stand-by's we usually always have on hand for our children.

Again, I think the trick to making this useful is to not do it everyday.  Keep it in the rotation for school-time activities.

Finally, I've found it helpful to have a loose schedule for the little ones that coincide with what the older ones are doing.  Think of it like a bone-fide day care schedule.
Break it up into 15-30 minute increments and include things like book time, craft time, snack time, outside time, lunch time, nap time, snack time, dinner time, play-doh time, bath time, bedtime.

When you run out of things to do.....start the schedule over again.
This year, my plan is to put an older sibling on the youngest two during their break time to help supervise them {the younger ones} during activities that tend to be messy!

I have to admit that last year was so difficult for me that I defaulted all too often to the TV for my younger children.
Granted we only have Netflix, and they usually stay in the circle of PBS type preschool shows....but they had an enormous diet of this!!
I'm RESOLVED to not let this happen again this year!!

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Wonderful ideas Brenda thank you!
It helps to be organized and creative, it seems you are that. I'm a little terrified and also excited about starting to homeschool next year? I've gotta keep Jasmine and Colleen busy....