Saturday, November 28, 2009

What to do with the little ones while you're homeschooling

Yes, it's hard to homeschool with little ones around. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me:

1. Take at least 15 minutes before you start school to play with the little one(s). Starting them off in "first place" gives them a sense of confidence and involvement.

2. Assign an older sibling to play with the younger one(s). For instance, I will do math for 15 minutes with one child while the other plays with the younger one. We will either switch after 15 minutes, or they will play together another 15 minutes (depending on how things are going). We do this throughout the day.

3. Get school age children working independently, and then use this independent work time to spend some one-on-one time with the little one(s). Even a kindergartener can work by herself for 15 minutes. If you foster this at a young age, you will be very happy as your children get older! A great way to develop independent work is by using mystery folders.

4. Move your location. When people ask, "Where do you do school?", I have to reply, "Everywhere." Somehow changing locations keeps little ones happier. So, we might start out reading Bible and history in the craft room. Everyone can draw or use playdough while I read. Next, we'll move to the dining room for math. IF my kids can do their math independently, I do number puzzles or games with the preschooler. Often this is the point where we do 15 min. of sibling-play as mentioned above. When my preschooler was smaller, we used the high chair a lot during math time. I'd give him toys to play with or a snack. For reading later, we might move to one child's bedroom or up to the playroom. Often we'll go outside in nice weather and read on a bench. It just helps to break up the location. New sights, new toys, new opportunities.

5. Break your day into small chunks. Rarely do we spend more than 20 minutes on one "subject." Your little ones can be more patient if they know that "when the timer goes off, we will be taking a break." Also, take scheduled breaks throughout the day. We break for snack, outdoor time, lunch, etc.

6. Have a school box for the little one. You'll probably hear this tip a lot, and it really does work. It's great to have a special box of toys or manipulatives that your child can only use during "school" time. Playdough is great, too.

7. Be flexible. Know that sometimes your little one just needs you! You will all be much happier if you just take some time to be with your little one.

8. If all else fails, stick a video in and let them watch TV all day. I'M KIDDING!!!!! That's really a joke! (I'm not saying I never let me kids watch movies, but my preschooler doesn't watch while the other ones are in school. It's just too distracting.)


  1. Several years later . . .

    I found you through Simple Homeschool and have really appreciated your "Tricks of the Trade" section. Thanks! I am starting Year 1 this fall with three boys: ages 7, almost-5, and 20 months. I've done a lot of reading to prep myself and this "What to do with little ones" post offers the most practical and realistic advice I've found. BY FAR. It makes sense. I've been fretting a bit, not even sure how to figure it out; but this has really helped me organize things in my mind. Thank you so much!

    1. You are so welcome! Those can be hard days but I wouldn't trade them for anything!


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