Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What About The Little Ones?

Home schooling is something I have been led to do for a long time. Because K.Z. is the oldest he was the first guinea pig and we tried many combinations until we found the one I think we will stick with for a while. But it is a little intense and needs dedicated time. As education should.

Before Xena started school, K.Z was still in Kindergarten and 1st grade. We did "homeschool lite". Xena and C'sa played while we did school for the whole 1.5 to 2 hours and then that was it. We were not foster parents yet, so there were only three children at the time. Now both Xena and K.Z are in school, doing a more intense curriculum and we have three little ones hanging around. Except now it is not for just 1.5 to 2 hours that they have to entertain themselves.

In the morning we all start out together. C'sa (now 5), Eazy (3), and Iggy (14 months) hang out with us while we do history. By the time that is done, Iggy is down for a morning nap and C'sa and Eazy have wandered off. Xena and KZ still need Mom to hang around and help them with their lessons. Frankly, I feel as if I am tied to the table in the dining room where they do their lessons.

Fortunately C'sa is great at entertaining herself and she is also great at bossing Eazy around; and he is good at obeying her. So we have a win-win situation for them thus far. But I feel like they are on their own a little too much and I struggle at how I am to help all 5 at once. Eventually, Iggy's morning nap will end and I am not sure how to handle that new aspect.

I know that sooner than I expect, they will not all need me so much, but for now they do, and frankly I am at a loss. I do not want the little ones to feel like they do not get Momma time as I am helping the older ones. I do not want the older ones to stop and stare at the wall if I am taking a minute out on the younger kids (and they do), thus prolonging the day.

Next year when C'sa starts Kindergarten, I intend to give her one on one while the older kids play with the younger ones and then trade. I would LOVE your thoughts on balancing it all out with no one getting left out and feeling lost.


Amy's homeschool blog said...

last year was SO hard for me. I had no time for Evellyn and Cecillia. I put on the tv and threw toys at them. The upside? Lynne knows ALL her letters,LOL! But I had such guilt!
This year it seems during school everyone is in the school room. I do not rely on tv as much, but a well timed video or tv show can save the world somer days.
Next year I will have 3 in school too, and 2 lose ends... Lynne may or may not go to preschool 2 mornings a week. so then I would just have Addie.... I want make up stuff for them top do too. If I was organized I would: make a scavenger hunt around the house, make us baggies with activities for them, have coloring readily available...
I don't know.... we could try to work out a swap of littles too. one day they are here one day at your house. then we would each get big kid schooling time in...

Judy W said...

Having just graduated our oldest last year from 13 years of homeschooling, let me assure you that there is an end to the journey! That being said ... I think we all have to realize that subsequent children will never get as much one-on-one attention as our first-born. And each child that comes along will receive a little less one-to-one than their preceding sibling. BUT, those younger children also enjoy something the oldest never did ... and that is the camaraderie and joy of having older siblings to help them and play with them. So I would suggest that it all balances out in the end.

Your life circumstances and your school schedule are going to change every year. Sometimes even within a given year. Flexibility is probably the greatest lesson I learned when all my kids were small. I would suggest looking for some "independent" activities for each child. Perhaps it's a well-loved educational TV program or DVD ... or maybe it's a math or phonics game on the computer. Use those, without guilt, when you need to spend some focused time with another child. Also look for ways to combine some aspects of your childrens' learning. For many years we shared our History and Science studies. Because I was reading the History literature aloud and teaching and demonstrating the science (, we were all able to listen and participate. I made certain to offer more explanation for the younger ones and have a higher level of expectation for the older.

Another important goal is to work towards independence. As soon as my children were able to read some on their own, I began to train them to do some of their seatwork without me. Maybe I explained some math concepts, and then opened their workbook and asked them to do the first 5 problems without me. I instructed them to move on to the next one if a particular problem had them stumped ... and I assured them I would return in a specific amount of time (i.e. 10 or 15 minutes). Then I would head off and put in a load of laundry or wash some dishes. As time went on, I worked up to providing each child with a daily schedule that showed them what needed to be done in each subject. Eventually I would hand them a weekly schedule. And by the time they hit junior high school, they were able to create their own schedule based on the materials I provided (and some guidance from me).

Each year as your children get older you will find a new routine that will work for that particular season. The next year it will likely need to change. One helpful resource you may enjoy is a Sonlight Podcast called Homeschooling with Toddlers. It's just under 20 minutes in length.

Homeschooling with toddlers can be a stressful, but very rewarding, season in life. I applaud you for rising to the challenge!

~Judy W
Homeschool Q&A