Homeschooling with toddlers in the house

     I had a dear friend send me a facebook message the other day, asking how on earth she can homeschool her kindergartener with a 2 and 3 year old in the house.  I *did* try to reply to her note with my phone, but then decided that was pretty difficult considering how many words I needed to use!    There may be others who wonder the same thing anyway, so I thought I’d respond to her here . . . so here you go, Amy! 

      If you’re doing Kindergarten work with your 5 year old this year, that means that not much needs to change in your schedule.  Continuing to do whatever you’ve always done with your kids is fine, excepting the hour and a half or so you may need to spend working with your kindergartener on reading, handwriting and basic math.  Seriously, kindergarten-specific "work" probably shouldn’t take much more time than that!  Read great books to them together, take them all to the park, go as a family for a field trip to the fire station, take a walk in the park and have each one find and draw their favorite flower, then look them up when you get home to find out what their names are . . . Enjoy them!  Let the little ones absorb the idea that learning is something enjoyable, happens everywhere all the time, and is for all ages. 

     One thing I always tell people with young children is, "Don’t stress until you have to!"  There will be plenty of time for that when they hit the older grades– worrying about credits and requirements and all that.  For now, enjoy having them together and take every opportunity to show them how God’s creative, loving hand is at work and visible in the world, and to shape their tastes, habits and character while they’re most impressionable.  Read some books about homeschooling . . . Educating the Wholehearted Child, The Charlotte Mason Companion, For the Children’s Sake, and many others are out there to give you ideas and vision for your homeschool.  The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is another wonderful resource, of course!  Find your own philosophy of education this year, and pray that God shows you His design for your family. 

     And for that hour or so of peace that you do need, I’d suggest a basket full of things your littles can use *just* during your school time with the older child.  Quiet puzzles (Lauri??), board books, and special toys are great; of course, they’ll probably want paper and crayons so they can "do school" too!  Wonders of quiet can happen if you give them a cookie sheet covered in a 1/8" layer of cornmeal to play with on the kitchen floor–show them how to "write" and draw in it; or try a couple of bowls with some popcorn kernels inside and a ladle to scoop them from one bowl to the other.  Shaving cream on the table makes for fun "painting" time and easy cleanup, and of course a snack works, too.  If all else fails, the TV is PERFECT as an occassional babysitter if you pop in a sweet video on a crazy day, no matter what "they" say!  There’s a great resource out there called "Preschool Activities in a Bag" which has tons of ideas for keep-busy projects–check them out here for more info (they actually have activity bags for all ages, now!)
     I hope this has helped a little.  You’ll do a great job homeschooling!  Oh, and if they do set the house afire, consider it a learning opportunity.  You might want to get your husband to check the alarm batteries before the first day of school!!

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