How do you do it? How do you manage to teach all those kids?
Mentally….I’m answering with all kinds of snarky comments. What I am thinking about is some of the events of my past weeks….how some days I feel like I could write a book on the beauty of homeschooling. You know….when I’m at my daughter’s piano recital and she “nails it”, and I know how much work she puts into it. Or when I hear one of my kids use a vocabulary word, “dude…what is that FOUL smell!???” Love it! Or when I wake up and decide that we have dominated our school week and so..we’re going ice skating today!
Then….there are the epic fails…… teaching one child Math, while watching the 3 year old throw a linking cube in her mouth, and diving after her before she chokes. Or the time my son was practicing mandarin on the computer, while my oldest was rehearsing House of the Rising sun for the twentieth time on the piano, and I’m sitting on the bathroom toliet on the phone with Comcast customer service just to avoid the screeching toddler who just wants to know “If I can have a cutie??!!!”
Multi-tasking at its finest. Some of those moments are flask-worthy. Listen…no judgment here.
When my oldest was four, and my son was almost two, I decided to begin my homeschooling endeavor. As a former teacher, I was so excited to begin this process with my daughter. I had it all planned out. She was going to be an avid reader. She would be a mathematical genius. I would start her at 4 years old so she could be ahead. I mean….I was a teacher. I mean…I knew what to teach and how….Why wouldn’t I delve right in??!!
It was my two sisters in laws, whose daughters were already being homeschooled, who gave me some great advice…..
“Don’t push her too hard. She has plenty of time to do school and workbooks. Just have fun.”
And Wow….I had no idea how tough it would be trying to school her with a 2 year old, and a baby!!! Boy was I glad I had taken their advice. Sweet Pea was a natural learner. She loved to memorize songs and sing. We bought tons of puzzles for her to do. She loved the huge workbooks from Walmart that she could do when she wanted. And….we spent TONS of time at the library. We took advantage of storytime at the library and spent plenty of time “exploring” outside.
Fast forward 6 years, and Sweet Pea is now very independent in her school work. She has become an avid reader, and school comes very easy for her. However, I have a 2nd and 3rd grader who need my assistance, and two little ones who want my time too. So….I thought I would share some of my favorite “go- to”s for my littles during school time:
*BTW, I am not currently being paid to endorse these products. But…let’s be honest. I would only endorse products that I love anyway. haha.
However, I happen to hit up all my mom friends for advice and product referrals, so why not offer my advice when I can…right??!!
Highlights Hidden Picture Books
These books were a gift from Grandmom one year and they are amazing!!!
Miss Missy LOVES these. Especially the pages where they give you a sticker to place down over the “hidden object”. She just turned 3 in November and I had no idea how quickly she would do these or the how much she would love these. You can also go online and let some of the bigger kids do these…
I’m a huge fan of Aquadoodle. All you need is some water and a paintbrush and they will be entertained for a while. Then, you can just leave it out to dry while you move to the next task. No colors to bleed onto your floor and if you have multiple paint brushes, you can have more than one child involved.
Our family loves games. It only takes 10 minutes for a quick game of family hide-n-seek. Some times I have sent Miss Missy on a scavenger hunt to find me 5 “orange things”, or 5 things that make the “b” sound. These are great ways to review skills while working with another child. We have also practiced counting while doing jumping jacks and hopping around.
I just picked this up on Friday from our local library but I’m sure you could make your own. I love to read to the “littles” or have some of their siblings read to them. For every book they have read to them, they get to color one of the little pictures on this page. After 100 books (or a page), they take this back to the library for a prize. They were super excited to add their first four books on Saturday night! After their first five pages (the booklet is 10 pages long!!!), we will go out for some ice cream!
If we are not reading, Miss Missy is always wanting to do puzzles. She can put a puzzle together very quickly, so thankfully….. grandmom always gives us a few for Christmas. Our favorites are any Melissa and Doug ones! Puzzles are terrific for working on their fine motor skills and teaching them to see the greater picture.
Books on Tape/CD
I’m a huge fan of books on tape or CD…especially if I have to be in the van for most of the day. It’s a great way to let the little get some “reading time” in while taking the older kids to an activity. When I go to the library, I make sure that I get 1-2 books on CD. If I remember, I try to grab an additional copy of the book so we have less fighting over who is going to “turn the page”…haha. I keep these in the van so I don’t have to remember to return them. It also lessens the chance of me losing them.
I love refrigerator magnets! All of my kids have enjoyed hanging out with me in the kitchen and this is one of the best uses of their time. I recently bought these large bright letter magnets from a teacher store. (pictured on the fridge behind Miss Missy).I love the versatility of these. I can help Mini Me create words with them, and yet Miss Missy likes me to quiz her on the various letters. She loves to practice her name and try to put letters together to make words.
The two magnetic devices pictured below have been in our family since we had Dirty Dog D. Each one of our children have enjoyed learning the songs about counting, letters, and colors through the magnetic DJ. Placing different letters in the fridge phonics device allows them to work on letter sound and distinction. I highly recommend both of these.
Leap Frog Fridge Phonics
Leap Frog Magnetic DJ radio
Dry Erase Boards/ laminated sheets
For kids there is just something fun about using a dry erase marker and having the fun of doodling and then erasing. I like to purchase kindergarten workbooks and then laminate certain pages to be able to use over and over. I often do this with letters, numbers, and some matching items. The dry erase board below is often used for our older children but the little girls like to use it to draw pictures!
I am also a big fan of playdoh!!!!! I throw down a dollar store tablecloth…..and we are set. I can use this time to review Catechisis with the older children around the table, while the “littles” play with playdoh!
So…these are my “go to” activities for dealing with toddlers. I hope you have been inspired to try some of these ideas with your little ones! In my opinion, the biggest lesson is to remember that our toddlers are like sponges. They soak up so much from their environment and their other siblings. Try and provide moments for them to be mentally stimulated…….but make it fun!!!!!
Hoping your homeschooling days are successful!