17 April 2011
One Room School Series~Making it work part 1
Teaching with toddlers & babies
I am beginning this series in response to the many emails I receive on the topic of homeschooling many children. It is my prayer that the things I will share in this series will bless, inspire, encourage, and uplift you in your homeschooling journey.
When I began homeschooling I had 3 children ages 5 to baby. I hardly can remember a time NOT having little ones near when homeschooling the older ones. Here are some things we have tried in order to keep order while teaching.
When a new little was born we would normally take school off for a season. A season usually meant anywhere from a few weeks to a couple on months. Depending on the age of the children being taught. If I had strong readers then they could move on on their own to some degree. But for the little ones, preschool age to around 8 or 9 we laid low for a bit. Mostly reading stories to them while I would nurse and rest. Also, the older ones were happy to pitch in and keep little ones occupied with simple math activities and reading stories to them. But, if you are a brand new mom and haven't enjoyed the blessings yet of 'older' children then that tells me that your children are still quite young and therefore taking time off as needed is NOT going to do permanent academic harm to your child. Always remember young mothers, that living and loving is also a learning adventure and is important as well as their schooling. As the babies got a bit older and could be entertained we slowly would move into more of a full time schedule. If baby were sleeping then I would hit the harder subjects that took more time. When baby was awake I found it helpful to rotate the baby in 20 minute increments of play with an older child while I worked with younger ones. Wearing the baby while schooling cuts down on a lot of fussing and keeps baby content being close to mom. But the thing I found most helpful was keeping school simple. The 3 R's are my moto. Rich, well written, living books, copybooks for recording and narrating are a must for a well rounded education. Having children put in writing things learned while reading does wonders.
Multi tasking~I like to walk a lot. When my twins were 5 I would put them in the double jogger, Janai who was a baby I would wear, and Makenzie who was a toddler would be in the stroller. Another child would push that one. The twins would have their little phonics book in hand and as we walked we would do phonics. When they were finished I would do oral schooling with the few older children who would be with me. Mental math problems, spelling, geography quizzing, and narrations are all something we could do while walking, working in the home or even at bath time! Every minute of our day could be used wisely with our children one on one. Driving in the car is another way to get in those read aloud books using cd's. Think about what you could be going over with your child while at the same time doing something else.
Toddlers can be tricky. I've tried many things with my toddlers over the years and while I don't want to discourage you, I won't lie; keeping them busy without allowing them to tear apart the house isn't easy. One thing I found helpful was to keep a special box full with toys, snacks, and board books. I kept it put up most of the time and ONLY pulled it out when I got desperate so as to keep it all new!! Otherwise, again, assigning an older sibling to play with the toddler is always helpful. For those who really don't have too many 'older' children you will find that even a child as young as 6 or 7 can keep a busy toddler happy. If you are a mom who frowns on play pins like me then you may need to allow the living area to get a bit messy with toys, blankets, books, crayons, paper, etc. anything a toddler may bring out in order to keep himself busy. Homemade tents are always a plus for little ones. And same as babies, even toddlers enjoy it when mom tucks them into a pack and wears them around for a bit. And naps are key for any house with a toddler!! And remember, when toddlers and babies are sleeping make sure you make the most of that time. But a mom with many little ones needs to rest too so I suggest lying down on the sofa and reading aloud to the other children while babies are sleeping. While I'm not a big fan of TV I have been known to put in one of those Baby Einstein videos to keep little ones happy for a time!
How about you? Please feel free to add any other ideas you may have in order that we all may be edified. Next in Our One Room School~'Teaching while preschoolers are present'