One of the challenges of homeschooling can be the balancing act between assisting your older children and entertaining the younger ones. Right now I have 5 with regular school assignments, 1 that wants some work on his own and playtime, 3 yr. old twins that want to have fun, and a nursing infant.
Here are some tips we have used to keep our little ones happy. Use what works until it doesn’t, modify it and make it your own.
1. Keep special items that are only played with during school time. Don’t put everything out, but rotate items weekly or monthly depending on your situation.
2. Plan some special “school time” with your younger kids first and then they are more apt to go off and play individually or with a sibling.
3. Depending on your older children’s ages have them sit and hold the baby or entertain the baby on the floor while you grade their work.
4. While your older children are working independently, bring the little ones with you on a chore errand. They will be happy to help you and it keeps them from distracting your hard workers.
5. Homeschool in the bathroom; let your little ones play in the tub. During this time you can quiz flash cards, announce spelling words, and listen to an oral report or reading lesson. Basically anything that you can comfortably do while still keeping an eye on your toddler(s) in the tub.
6. Hi-chairs are great for putting a toddler in to work on painting, clay sculpting, or another messy activity. You don’t have to worry about them running off with paint, glue, or sand while you assist your school kids with their work.
7. Use nap time to tackle the more intensive subjects that require detailed explanations, like upper level math.
8. Include them in as much as you can and in as much as they desire. Toddlers will be happy to recite a poem, even if they can only make grunting sounds. Giving an oral test? They will sit with a pencil and paper and scribble their own answers just like their big sisters.
On a future blog, I will post our present method for keeping the schoolwork and playtime coexisting.