THE HOMESCHOOL JUGGLE
Hi everyone! As I sit here on this fine Monday morning, drinking my coffee and wondering how I will entertain and teach my toddlers and baby for the week, I look to my left and see my entire box of solar system fun that I brought upstairs for this week's lesson plans.
My lesson plans have been created over time to not only educate preschool and first grade but, also babies and toddlers. It was important for me as a homeschooling mom of 3 to entertain and enjoy teaching all of these ages at once. Our children are all roughly 20 months apart and many families are in the same boat that we are with children all close in age. It's a blessing but they're far enough that it's a challenge to juggle it all during the homeschooling day. In the Spring, we usually take an annual family trip and attend a homeschooling conference. It's something we truly look forward to every year, not only spend quality time as a family but, to also learn about new homeschool curriculum packages that are out there, pick up some tips and tricks that other moms give on their homeschooling adventure and continue to learn about the ever changing rules and regulations around reporting your homeschool year.
As I sat in one particular seminar, I heard other homeschooling moms asking questions around how to entertain the baby and toddler, while ensuring the education of their school aged children throughout the day. One mom in particular, was so stressed out that I just wanted to run and give her a hug. Her three children were all probably the same ages as ours and she was so bogged down with the challenge of teaching math while just placing the baby in the pack-in-play next to her in the same room. This is something that many moms use and it can work wonders as far as entertainment however, her main concern was that her baby was developing gross motor skills as quickly as the others because he had been placed in there so much.
It can be frustrating at times when you're trying to teach one child how to read and they're having a really good day with focus and attention, while having your toddler running up and pulling on your pant leg and the baby crying because he's hungry again. My lesson plans that I will share with you aim to create a love for learning at all of these ages all at the same time. Obviously you're going to have an off day where the juggle is a bit more challenging than others but, the goal here is to try and create that time without taking from your other child's development.
Some moms will tell you to grab a "busy bag" to entertain your toddler to create some one on one time with your school aged children. I think this is wonderful and in fact, I have created an entire system of activity boxes that I will share later on for my children to enjoy. However, not everyone has the time nor the resources to sit and create these types of activities. I have laid out the ways my lesson plans are designed to incorporate all of your children throughout the day. Below are a few ways that we go about our day to create a fun learning environment for each of them.
1. Have something for all of them that relate to the same topic that you are teaching. My weekly lesson plans have something for each of my children, no matter what stage they're at 1st grade down to infant.
2. You will find when each of them have something, they are more likely to want to share with one another and take turns. Allow them to complete an activity and switch with one another. This not only creates more time for you to teach on an individual basis, but also gives them more of an opportunity to learn with multiple "stations" if you will.
3. Always choose activities within a lesson plan that are designed for independent time when teaching a subject that needs more attention with your other child. I learned this the hard way. In the beginning of this journey, I would pull out an activity that required me to assist the child more than I realized when handing it to them. Truly examine your child's current skill set and don't give them something they are going to be constantly calling your name for assistance. The goal here is to create time for yourself and not more stress.
4. For infants and babies, have a dedicated feeding schedule that you stick to and teach the more complicated subjects directly after a feeding. This will cut down on the cry time and need to stop to feed the baby. Now, I know some of you moms out there will say this is better said than done. I know all about this since my second child was a cluster feeder for about the first 6 months of her life. It was frustrating and I felt like I could never get anything done. Spending time with my first child was taken away with the constant need to feed her and somehow entertain him. It will get better, I promise. In the meantime, if you create a time directly after a feeding, you should have a bit of time before the next feeding.
5. This seems to be such a taboo concept, and I get it because I was the same way for the longest time. Utilize the tv if you need to. There are so many educational resources out there that may be included in your Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu accounts or that you can purchase to educate your children and create time for your others. I was totally opposed to this concept but when I was pregnant and sick with my third child while needing to entertain my toddlers at home, I realized there are some shows out there that they truly learn from. We recently purchased a whole dvd set of a show that was recommended to me that teaches Theology in a way that I would never have thought of. Obviously you need to choose something that is educational and stand up to your worldview but, it can be an awesome tool.
I hope all of these recommendations can help you create time for your love for teaching your little ones. After all, we are here as homeschooling moms to serve His children through education. Please take a look at the resources I have listed below and the videos I have created to show our "juggle" throughout our homeschooling day.
Happy Homeschooling and remember to "willfully serve His children" throughout your homechool day.