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What to do with the little ones while we are homeschooling?

What to do with the little ones while we are homeschooling?

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It seems that I have been hearing the same question over and over the last few weeks from friends and online on Facebook, Twitter etc.  ”What do you do with the younger kids while you are homeschooling?”  Yes, if you don’t keep your little ones occupied  it seems the whole house can implode in a matter of minutes.  I have a few tips on helping to keep your house intact while homeschooling!

  1. Do something with your little ones first.  Before you start homeschooling with the older ones, play a game, read a book or do a short project with the little ones.  This helps them to feel important and that you aren’t just shoving them off.  They are more willing to go play on their own after they have had some special time with mom or dad.
  2. If you are able to give one of your children a break-have it be a break to play with the younger ones.  I love being able to have an older child play with the little ones.  It also really helps to build their relationships with each other.  Even  15-30 minutes with an older sibling can be all  you need to get in some great teaching time with another child one-on-one.
  3. Nap time is GOLD in our house.  This is when we try to get as much done as possible with mom.  Read alouds, history, science etc are done as much as possible while our 2 year old is sleeping. Take advantage of this time to pack in the important stuff!
  4. When your little ones are up keep them busy!  Busy with things they can do on their own.  This is important.  Head over to my post on workboxes for the younger ones.  I have a huge list posted there of things you can have them occupied with.
  5. Educational or family friendly movies/TV shows can be great in small amounts of time!  We do not have our TV hooked up to satellite or cable but we do have Netflix.
I hope that some of these ideas might help your days go more smoothly!  Do you have any ideas that have worked well for your family?

Boxes, Boxes and More Boxes

Boxes, Boxes and More Boxes

Boxes can be a wonderful thing. They truly help to organize all kinds of things, especially school work. I use a different type of system to do the older kid’s school work. We are using Sonlight and it works wonderfully with workboxes! (I do not use the clear shoeboxes recommended in the Workbox System, I do not like workbooks getting bent.) I found, from Sam’s Club, a 20 drawer organizer rolling cart:

The left side is Matthew’s, and is by his desk, and the right side is Joy’s, by her desk.  I was able to divide the drawers into different subjects that I want my older children to do each day.    Bible, Math, Science, Computer Time, Art, Handwriting, Writing (We use Student Writing Intensive from Excellence in Writing–I can’t write highly enough about it!!!), Grammar and Vocabulary. The idea here is that these are subjects they are doing by themselves. They can sit down at their desks and start with the first box (I let them choose their order and we tried to space easier and harder subjects next to each other so that it gave the a little “break”). Once they finish that box, they remove the velcro label and put it on their subject list. This allows us to be able to see what is finished and gives them a sense of accomplishment.

They can then move onto the next box. Each box should have whatever they need to complete that assignment. If Math needs a protractor, I make sure there is one in there so they don’t get up and get distracted. Some parents like to refill the boxes each day. I like to make changes Sunday night before the week starts. I put their whole math book in the box, not just 1 assignment. If I need to label what needs to be read or which questions need to be answered I put a sticky note on the front of the book in the bin with any info they need to know. Any books that are shared between my 2 oldest are in a “book basket” on top of the cart.

In case you missed my earlier post about workboxes, this all came from a wonderful book by Sue Patrick called The Workbox system.  Her website is: www.workboxsystem.com

This has really helped to streamline our day and I don’t hear, “What should I do?”, “I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing” etc.  It keeps them keep on track and I can see where they are in their day, without disturbing them.  While Matthew and Joy are working on their  boxes I can work with Andrew on his assignments that we need to do together.  Then we swap and I work with the the older two while Andrew does his workbox assignments.  I hope that this helps spark your imagination and help you end some of the frustrations you may be having in your homeschool day!

Do You Homeschool ALL of Them?

Do You Homeschool ALL of Them?

People often ask me if I homeschool all of my children. I find this quite comical due to the fact that two are under school age. They are almost 2 and 4 years old. I think what they really mean to ask is, “What do you do with the little ones while you are homeschooling the others?” I just giggle inside and think to myself, “What don’t I do with the little ones while trying to juggle 3 other grade levels?”

The fact of the matter is that our school day tends to run much more smoothly when I have the Workbox System in place. This system was developed by Sue Patrick and is called The Workbox System. You can find out more about it at www.workboxsystem.com. Anyways, the premise was designed to keep school aged children on task with their homeschool work assignments. She mentions in her book that she starts children out at around 18 months on a modified workbox system. I was so excited to find something that would keep my younger children occupied, while not turning my house into looking like a tornado hit it at the same time!

The idea is to fill clear shoeboxes with activities you would like your preschooler to do during the school day THAT THEY CAN DO WITHOUT YOUR HELP! This is the key, do not fill them with things that require you to read or sit with them to do. Listed below are some of the things I have filled the workboxes with. Also, I have found to use a timer for about how long you think your child can work on an activity without losing interest. That may be 10 minutes to 20 minutes. Make sure that you don’t let your child move on until the timer goes off and they CLEAN UP everything in the box and put it away. (This is key!!!) Then they can move onto another box.  Depending on your child you may need to spend a few minutes in the evening switching up what is in the boxes.  Trust me, 10 minutes at night is worth plenty the next day without interruptions.  You will have a much smoother day and find you have more time for other school work or free time!

SOME PRESCHOOL WORKBOX IDEAS:

Coloring book and crayons

Bingo type paints with pages to paint

Simple school worksheets with pencil

Straws and paper clips. They can open paper clip up to 90* angle etc and straws slip on ends to build abstract designs

Playdoh with cookie cutters and rolling pin.  (working on an animal or letter of the day or week, you could include a cookie cutter of it for fun!)

Activity bags I put together from a book called Preschool Activity Bags.

Leapster with cartridges

DVD that they can go watch

CD player with CD music or story to listen to

Book or 2 to look at

Small chalk board or dry erase board to draw or practice letters

Wiki sticki with alphabet cards

Rubber Stamps, washable inkpad and paper

Aqua doodle

Snack or little treat

Beads and yarn

Perler beads and peg boards to make a design (obviously a choking hazard if you have a child who puts things in their mouths)

Stickers and paper

Colored and dried noodles with either plastic lacing to make necklaces or paper and glue. Depends on shape of noodles.

Blocks

Stacking cups

Puzzles

Color wonder finger paints

Gallon ziplock bag with shaving cream. Just enough so you can seal the bag and they can practice writing letters on it from the outside. Watch so they don’t open it!

File Folder Games: These are sometimes sold at the Dollar Stores, but teacher stores sell them too.  I bought a book of them one summer, cut and laminted the ones I wanted and stored them in bags.  Now I just pull the bag down I want to put in the box for the day.

I hope this helps some of you out in your homeschool.  Please leave a comment as to any other ideas you might have to put in your preschool workboxes.  Another day I will post about my school aged workboxes!

I suppose my reply really must be, “Yes, I do homeschool ALL of my children!”