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Preschoolers in the Mix

Certainly one of the biggest challenges facing a homeschool mom is trying to teach with little ones underfoot. You might have laid out the best plans in the world, but those plans might never become a reality if you fail to consider the preschoolers in your home. They can be quite distracting to both Mom and the other children who are trying to concentrate on their studies!

Don’t get me wrong: preschoolers are a great blessing! They just add another dimension to your planning. Here are five great ideas, compiled from other homeschool moms, for homeschooling with preschoolers in the mix.

  1. Keep lessons short!

    This is a key component of the Charlotte Mason method, and especially crucial when homeschooling with a preschooler or two nearby.

  2. Assign “baby breaks.”

    Have the older children take turns interacting with the little ones. They can read books together, work puzzles, watch educational videos from the library, or play with something in their “school” containers (see next item).

  3. Compile special “school” containers.

    Set aside some special activities that are allowed only during school time; for example, Play-Doh, crayons, cheap workbook-type books, building blocks, lacing cards, rice with measuring cups, self-adhesive foam shapes, stickers, paper, aluminum foil to mold into shapes, items to sort, Cheerios to string on yarn, magnetic letters, or other special things they don’t usually get to play with. Your local dollar store is a great place to find items for these containers. Put the special toys in special containers and bring them out only during school time as a special treat. Don’t give all the toys at once, but dole them out one at a time, taking the old activity away when you give the new. And make the rule that the child must put all the items back in the container before trading it in for a new one. If a container loses its appeal, set it aside for a few months then put it back in circulation.

  4. Make a ball pit.

    Purchase a little wading pool and fill it with colorful, plastic balls. This toy can be played with inside or outside, and you can slide it under a bed when you’re finished with it for the day.

  5. Include them whenever possible.

    Even young toddlers can sit in on hymn study and devotional time. If the three-year-old wants to do math when his older brother is doing math, get him some simple objects for counting and let him “do math.”

Got any other ideas you’d like to share? What has worked for you? Leave a comment and help out another mom with preschoolers in the mix.

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4 Responses to “Preschoolers in the Mix”

  1. Karen May 8, 2008 at 10:32 am #

    And don’t forget to relax and be flexible! It is helpful to have the “big picture” in mind. You have many years to teach your kids, so don’t stress about having to reduce your schedule a bit because you have little ones disrupting the flow of school work. There are many days ahead in which you will have opportunities to “make up” what was “lost” when the little ones needed attention.

  2. Andrea May 8, 2008 at 6:12 pm #

    We have enjoyed a large plastic container filled with beans, measuring cups, toy dumptrucks, an egg carton for counting and a plastic table cloth to sit on.

    Felt pieces on a felt board are nice quiet items too.

    My toddler also enjoys listening to music , stories, etc. on tape. I have not done this yet. But some families have recorded their own tapes with songs, scripture, learning info. and words of love and encouragment for each child to listen to. I usually give my children headphones so they do not disturb the rest of us.

    Looking forward to reading everyone’s great ideas. I need to do more for my preschoolers. They are always asking what they can do. It helps to have something planned special for them.
    Andrea

  3. Laura May 15, 2008 at 8:46 pm #

    I have my toddlers sit on baby sized quilts during group time, when we sing hymns, do a short Bible study, have a history read aloud and check grammar. That is a long time to have them sit there, but I let them have one or two quiet educational toys to play with on their blanket and they listen in as well. It has taken time to work up to this, but now it works quite well. Other than that, I give them my time first thing in the school day. The older ones begin independent work while I do preschool and kindergarten with my littles. My 1 year old is allowed to sit in my lap or a siblings lap, wander around and then he gets playpen time when we really need him not to be in the middle of it all. I do have a box of yard sale educational toys that we rotate for blanket time. A spiral notebook goes a long way too! My 5 year old “takes notes”. ;o)

  4. Katie August 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Karen, Andrea and Laura! Thank you! I need to read all of that!

    This is the best blog yet! I am going to need this information for sure! I have a 2, 4, and 6 year old. Wish me luck! :)