Monday, April 3, 2017

How to Homeschool With Five Children, Part 2 -- How to Keep the Little Ones Entertained

I want to start off by saying that I don't feel like an expert in homeschooling.  While this is our sixth year, I certainly don't feel like I have it all together, that I know exactly what we're doing each and every day.  But I do have some experience, and I want to share what I've learned in the hopes that it may help you.

We started homeschooling when Sarah Beth was in kindergarten and I was pregnant with Mary.  So I've always had little ones to deal with while doing school.  I remember working with Sarah Beth (5) while Daniel (3) and Rachel (1) sat with us at the kitchen table working puzzles or coloring.  That was so long ago that I don't remember much about Daniel; he must have sat there patiently during our hour or so of school.  Rachel, however, would get bored, and she would want to get down and do her own thing.  She was not to be trusted loose in the house, though, so I would put her in her bed with some books and toys, and she would be happy long enough for us to finish school.  Whew!

Mary, however, was a different story.  When she was almost a year old and we were starting our second year of homeschooling, this time including Daniel since we had started CC, I remember telling my mother that I wanted to pull my hair out because Mary was such a distraction to our schooling.  If I held her, she pulled the books off the table.  If I put her down, she did stay with us, but again, she pulled the books off the table.  Although my mother did not homeschool us, she had a great solution, one that I tell everyone who asks, one that I plan to use with Hannah starting very soon.  :)

Here are some ways to keep your younger child(ren) occupied while doing school:
  1. Keep it simple.  See my post last week about keeping school short enough not to exasperate your younger children.
  2. Have lots of toys, games, etc. to keep them entertained at the table.   You can see in the picture above that I have two shelves full of things they can do at the table.  I also allow them to bring books to the table and other things, as long as it's not too distracting to those who are actually doing school.
  3. Have older children play with the younger ones.  Sometimes, Rachel will get done with her school before I've finished with Sarah Beth and Daniel, and I will have her play with Hannah.  Sometimes, Mary helps, too, even though she's not technically doing school yet -- other than CC.
  4. When all else fails, here is my best piece of advice for those of you who are homeschooling with little ones underfoot:  make use of your pack-n-play.  Set it up, leave it set up, and keep some toys in it that are only for playing with during school.  My mother gave me this piece of advice, and it worked wonderfully.  The only reason I'm not doing this with Hannah right now is that she still sleeps in her pack-n-play.  Well, that and the fact that she is still relatively happy in her exersaucer.  
I must admit that it's really nice that Mary is old enough to be trustworthy for a little while by herself.  When she's finally had enough, I let her go upstairs to play.

How do you keep your little ones happy, occupied, and out of trouble while you homeschool?  Since I still have a little one, I'm still looking for suggestions!

Do you have any other questions for me about homeschooling?

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