Today I have a very special guest here at Our Busy Homeschool, someone who knows more about homeschooling with little ones than I do (yes, really – she’s got 8 children and her oldest has already survived to age 18).
As part of The Old Schoolhouse’s 10th birthday they’re doing lots of fun celebrations - from giveaways on their Homeschooling with Heart blog to free unit studies for you and even introducing new columnists. Kendra, from Preschoolers and Peace, is TOS’s columnist for The Littlest Homeschooler. You can find her blog by clicking on this button:She’s been through the trenches and has lots of wisdom to share. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me and you can read on to learn her tips about homeschooling with little ones in the house.
- How do you homeschool older children with toddlers in the house at the same time? Do you have any special tips or tricks to suggest?
There are so many different ways to go about managing lots of ages, and the trick is to figure out what works for you. In our home, I find it's best to work our day around the needs of the preschoolers.
When making a battle plan (or a routine/schedule), I figure out what will fill the non-napping hours of the littlest ones. Typically, we can fill up a morning for them with breakfast and clean up, chores, a video, indoor playtime, outdoor playtime, table play (coloring, clay, etc.), a walk, and story time. My oldest and most independent students work on subjects that don't need my attention, and the younger students can work on art projects or be in there with the preschoolers. We try to do as much together as possible. Everyone appreciates taking a walk or rocking out to some great music when the weather prevents us from getting outside.
Once the little ones are napping or resting in the afternoon, we get down to business and work on the subjects that take our concentration or my teaching. Those things can typically be accomplished in a couple of hours, but there are those kiddos who dawdle and are sitting at the kitchen counter working on math while I'm making dinner. Such is the life of the homeschooler, but then we do always have our evenings and weekends free from homework. It's a happy trade-off.
- At what age do you think children should begin "formal" instruction?
I really don't think there's a right answer to this question, but my years of experience have taught me one great lesson: slow is fast and fast is slow. Or, "better late than early". I can drag a 3-year-old through phonics (and i do mean drag), and they'll learn to read in a few years. Or I can wait until that child is ready to read and they'll be up and running in a few months. I know which way I prefer ;)
- Should we begin teaching our young children to sit still and learn from "traditional" materials such as books and workbooks? If we don't make them sit still for extended periods of time, how will they ever learn to sit still in church, wait in line, wait at the doctor's offer, etc.?
I'm a super big believer in little people learning to sit still. Some are better at it than others, and if you're a first time mom with a squirmy little guy, it might not be your lack of training. So take heart! Start a little bit at a time, but communicate that you expect him to sit for the required amount of time doing whatever it is you are requiring.
You might not be a traditional textbook-type, but your kiddos will at some point need to be able to follow directions, study a book, and concentrate on answering questions. A daily period of table time doing what you've directed will pay off big time in the long run. Start with 5 minutes and add a little bit as you go. Praise your little ones for their success!
Thanks Kendra! It been great chatting with you and I can’t wait to read your regular columns for TOS!