So many of you out there have way more to deal with than I do, so why am I having so much trouble? I'm open to advice. I have a 2 y/o, 4 y/o, and 6 1/2 y/o. I work 1 1/2 days per week. My oldest is between 1st-2nd grade. She is smart and things come easily to her, but a drama queen who is OVERLY sensitive. At times I have had some sensory issues (for example, certain socks "hurt" and send her to the floor in a fit, or if dad parks car in a different spot than normal,she loses it, etc. These issues are there still but prayer & Bible verses have become tools to help her reset most times, holding her helps a lot as well) Anyway, she does get frustrated during school very easily. If she needs any correction--which obviously she does--she gets very frustrated. So point being she is not as self sufficient as I would think she could be. My son who is 4 competes a lot for my attention while I am schooling her. It feels like a constant help me, help me!!! Nobody is patient & I get easily stressed...and of course along comes 2 y/o to add to the chaos. I know my work is causing some of the problem b/c we have to get more done in less time.(I am currnetly trying to cut down to 1 day) I also am not always as prepared as I would like...which is another issue--I love CM stlye & SCM, but I feel that there is A LOT of prep time required--am I making it harder than it is? Some other issues--I feel like my 2 y/o doesn't get enough of me but I feel like I have too much to do with the others for school that I don't get to it, I am having some issues with her telling me NO & swatting at my face & biting when I try to correct/discipline her...I have not yet won her heart! I feel that it is God's will to homeschool & I definitely have a heart for it...I love my children, despite what picture I have painted, they are good kids, everyone who interacts with them thinks they are wonderful & happy...I just feel that I am working so hard & am disorganized, house a mess, not enough chill time with kids (we only do 1 activity 1 time per week for 1 child during school year), I feel that I just run crazy & at this rate these precious years will be gone in a blink...so to sum up, I need advice on occupying a 2 y/o, spending time with & discipling her, occupying a 4 y/o, teaching them to be courteous to each other, organizing my school so I am not spending hours getting everything together all through the year, figuring how I will school them all...wow am I doing anything right???? Maybe I just need you all to pray for us!!! What a rambling...I guess advice in just about any area will benefit me...I'm tired of books on discipling children...they never seem to help me when I need it...I would love to hear how some of your routines are in homes of multiple kids & little ones...thanks...sorry for the disorganization of my thoughts!!!
Juggling different ages(11 posts) (8 voices)
I think the toughest time (so far) is when there are little ones underfoot. It does get easier.
How much school are you doing with your 6yo? At that age I wouldn't try for more than a couple of hours a day. And if you get less done, don't worry about it. You will catch up over time as life settles down. I don't think it is a bad thing to take some time, months even, to focus more on habits and behavior than on actual schoolwork.
I don't feel there is a lot of prep time in the CM method but I don't use the SCM curriculum so I can't comment on that.
I would not expect a 6yo to be very self-sufficient in homeschooling. I would think at that age, they would still need you to help with a lot of work. With kids yours' ages, I would expect hs to look something like this: oldest child has some work they do on their own like reading (either with you or on her own if she can), math (probably needing explanations from you before starting) and maybe spelling if you do that. Then pick a subject or two to do together, including the other kids if they want but not forcing them to be there. For these subjects, maybe history or science or art, sit together on the couch and just read (or look at a picture or listen to music) together. Do a little less than the oldest can take in a sitting,maybe 15-20 min per subject. There should be little day-to-day prep, just pick up in the book where you left off the day before. CM would not require narration at this age.
One final thing, have you looked more into sensory issues regarding your eldest? I am trying out thinks from Dianne Craft's website with mine though we are not far enough to know how much it helps. She tried to help kids with learning, sensory and other issues through dietary means.
I agree- it can be hard when you have all younger ones :). Remember that the most important thing you can teach them at these ages is character (obedience, learning to have self-control, etc.). Even if this is all you do right now, that is the most important! Working on this diligently at these young ages will reap much fruit as they get older!
Starting the day with a devotional time together sets the right mood for the day (for all of us!). Also, at times I have done a "training time" for a while with little ones in the morning (practicing first time obedience, practicing coming when called, practicing how to be a peacemaker with a sibling, etc.- make it fun- my kids loved this when we did it!)
Do you have a routine set up? I like Managers of their Homes by Teri Maxwell in helping with this. I do not use a strict schedule, though. I don't follow the clock to the minute, but have a basic routine that the kids know to expect. Most of our routine revolves around meals.
After the morning routine (breakfast, getting dressed, chores) start with your youngest and work your way up. Just some snuggle time or playing with blocks, reading, etc. can fill up the younger ones love tank so they are happier and less likely to interrupt. Have something scheduled for the other kids during this time ( for example your oldest could be doing her copy work independently, while the four year old plays in his room or chooses from a set choice of educational toys/ puzzles). Then rotate through the kids, with each child having something they are scheduled to do during each time slot.
The blog http://www.largefamiliesonpurpose.com has some good ideas and visuals. My schedule is more relaxed than hers (she has 9 children), but it gives you some good ideas, especially on keeping little ones occupied.
As far as school organization, I highly recommend SCM's Planning your CM Education. Once you have chosen resources for the year, scheduled them, and have a routine in place, the year should kind of run itself :)
Don't give up! It will get easier. Never perfect, but easier :) Enjoy your precious children :). HTH
It is hardest when they are young. I only have two, but I stressed more the year I had a 5 and 2 yo than I do now with a 9 and 12 yo. It will get easier. I agree about focusing on character traits and keeping formal school minimal at that young age. I also 2nd the "Planning Your CM Education" sold here. I plan out my schedule over the summer and print out their downloadable schedules and I pretty much don't plan all year...just tweaking a bit here and there if something's not working. I set up my schedule to just do the next thing, not specific pages. So, it's a page of handwriting, a page or two of math, a ch. of a book...and just keep moving on to the next thing. HTH some...it gets much easier once you find your groove:) Gina
We certainly will pray for you as many of us are in the same boat. I have so many thoughts but will try to keep this short:) Are you doing anything right? Yes, you are doing something very important right, you are loving your children and we hear that in your post. You are seeking their good, and wanting to please the Lord. So if you feel like I do some days, like a failure, just be encouraged that things to get better and easier with consistent discipline and training.
I have 5 children 7 and under and one on the way and it is daunting most days, but not chaos. When we are in public we get compliments on how well behaved the children are but at home it seems like they are awful some days:) In fact, some days when things aren't going well at all, we stop and just play a game, or read a fun book together and try again later or the next day. I think one thing you need to know is that with those ages, most days will be filled with interruptions. Lots of times where someone needs disciplined, taught, etc. I had wonderful advice once when I was so frustrated with my daughter and discipline was taking over the day: this is your day that God has given you, your job as a mother is to train your child in the way of the Lord. My perspective was wrong, that the discipline/interruptions were preventing me from accomplishing other things. Yes, dinner still needs made, etc. but school takes a backseat to training in my opinion. The Bible doesn't speak much of school at all, but it speaks a lot about parenting. So esp. with a 6 yr old as the oldest, take time to focus on those habits/character training over schooling.
I don't know your personal circumstances, but financially speaking, usually working one day a week isn't worth it for most families for tax reasons, not to mention the stress it causes. If your husband is wanting you to, then that's fine, but if you want to/feel you need to, I would enourage you to really look hard into the budget and see if you could carve out extra money to not have to work.
I really enjoy our schedule and sticking to it as much as possible. Do you and your children have a quiet time each day? Ours is from 1:30 to 3:00 and it helps tremedously, on M/W/F they can play computer games, on T/Th they read, or do puzzles, etc. Then at 3:00 is our daily time with mommy to play a game, sometimes individually, sometimes with more than one of them. We also have a tally mark system at home and if they haven't lost any, they get to stay up 15 minutes later and play wtih us, maybe you could do that for your daughter? I read to my little ones after school is over, usually at 11:00. We also get a lot of our reading done during breakfast and lunch, I eat before they do so I can read to them. I read a younger picture book, then one for the older ones and the littles listen.
I agree with the planning aspect, it should mostly be done before the term starts and only tweaking here and there. Are you using SCM guide books, or some other curriculum? I feel overwhelmed if I have to plan too much, so the guide books help me so much because it's done for me already!
One thing that helped my 6, now 7 yr old to be more independently working was that I set up totes for each child, so right now my 7 and 6 yr old have them. I printed off a simple daily schedule with boxes to check off and put that sheet in a sheet protector. That goes into their tote with a copywork binder with copywork already prepared, their math books, their reading book, and anything else we might be working on at the time. So that way they know what has to get done each day, they do their math and if I'm busy with the other children they move on to the next thing until I can check the math/copywork, etc. They have bookmarks in their math and reading books so they don't need to ask me what the next lesson is.
Does your 4 yr old like to do things at the table with you? There are lots of great posts on occupying toddlers/younger ones. My 4 yr old likes to do his "schoolbook", it's a workbook with letters, numbers, words, etc. He does a few pages with me sitting there and I can read his instructions then turn back to the child I'm working with at the table. Playdough lasts hrs in our house with the 2 and 4 yr old age. Having them "wash dishes" at the sink lasts at least 30 minutes.
Galatians 6:9, And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. This has been such an encouraging verse to me through many weary days. Feel free to PM me if you have more questions, or if something didn't make sense. Blessings, Adrienne
I will pray for you - I so feel where you're coming from! Right now my children are 10 (turning 11 next month), 7, 6, 4, 3, 1, and 4 months (with lots of medical issues and therapies we do daily). First let me say that I wholeheartedly believe you know your children best! So if anything I suggest just doesn't sound right for you that's great - ignore me. :)
I would learn all you can about sensory processing and sensory integration issues to find strategies to help with that. The more tools you have in your parenting arsenal the better.
We do table time each day. During this period of time all my children are at the table down to the 1yo. We use booster seats with seatbelts for littler ones both for safety and a gentle encouragement to stay seated. During table time I don't actually sit, I rotate around the table interacting, teaching, and encouraging each child. My older 3 do math or other sit down work, the younger 3 have coloring materials, fun worksheets, puzzles, playdoh, math manipulatives, or other activities to use.
When we first train a little one for table time they stay in their seatbelt for 10 minutes and if they throw their activity then they don't have much to do for that 10 minutes. They soon learn to keep the activity! Once 10 minutes is easy I add 10 more minutes and change out the activity they have at the halfway mark. We are to the point where my 1 year old (he's 18 mos) sits happily playing alongside us for an hour with a few activity changes and some interaction from me here and there. So do the 3 and 4 year olds.
It may look like this: I start 10yo on her math lesson, the 7 and 6 yo work on a math practice page while I'm doing that, and the younger 3 start with dominoes. If someone needs help I answer questions, but if not then I"m challenging the 4yo to find a domino with 6 dots and the 3yo to line up a train of dominoes, while showing the 1 yo how to pour dominoes from measuring cup into a large bowl. When the younger 3 are working away I'll see how the older 3 are coming along, practice skip counting with the 6 or 7 yo, and then it's about time to change the activity for the younger 3. After they put dominoes in the box I pull out white crayons and black construction paper, and stickers. They have at it, I start the oldest on another assignment (writing, copywork, notebooking) and check her work and the 6 and 7yo's work. The 6 and 7 - one does copywork and the other reads aloud to me. Then they switch. Or they read aloud to one of the littles. The baby is either in my arms/baby sling, napping in his swing, or playing on the floor with a toy.
It sounds so much more complicated than it is!
After table time and some free play running and getting energy out we'll curl up for a read aloud (literature or history). I'll spend a few minutes playing catch with littles, they'll help me make snack or do baby brother's physical therapy, and so on.
The CM principle of short lessons is key for me!!! It keeps everyone interested and things moving along.
One last thought - if your oldest is only 6 then at my house there would be very little 'formal' school going on. Now is the time to read stories, build with blocks, play games, explore outside, do chores and cooking side by side, and just let them play at learning as they have interest. If she gets frustrated at the level you're working, drop the level of the material so it seems easy to her and then nudge it up slowly over time. You have so many years ahead, she doesn't have to be figuring math in her head, doing all the problems on a worksheet, or reading independently yet.
((HUGS)) It really is the hardest with just younger ones!
When my son was 6 and his sisters 2 & 4 we would often read aloud after lunch with everyone laying down, then the two girls would nap or have quiet time, and my son would do math, copywork, and phonics with me while it was quiet. At age 6 that should be plenty. Now that my children are 4, 6, and almost 8 we have worked our way up to a full blown CM schedule in the AM incorporating everyone.
It's just a season and no season lasts forever. Spend your mornings on habit training. You will be so glad!
These are all great posts with great answers, I just would like to add about your 6 y/o having meltdowns when she gets corrected. Both my girls (now 9 and 6) do/did this. They are getting better over time and much encouragement that I don't expect them to be perfect and that we learn from our mistakes. I am not dealing with sensory issues though, so that may be part of it as well.
Good luck and God Bless.
Thank you all so much, I feel honored that you take time from your busy lives to encourage me. How I would love to be a fly on the wall in some of your homes to watch how things run, and be encouraged as to what our home can work towards!!! Summer will be the perfect time to ask God to help direct me in getting a clear direction for our family, setting priorities, goals, etc., and planning for the year. I will take all of the advice and apply what things I can to help our home. I had a question for Fiveflymom about your "training time" I would love to hear a few examples of what this looks like and how you made it so fun. I tend to struggle with making things fun as I am oriented towards getting a task done & have to work at thinking like a kid & being FUN:-)
Another thing I struggle with and would love others thoughts on is organization of school stuff. As I read how many of your homes seem to work like clockwork I can't help but wonder how & when then totes are organized, where all of the supplies for the activites for 7 children are being pulled from...all of these activities require prep time...we don't have a lot of space either, so trying to organize so that they can access certain things whenever, others just during school, but so 2 y/o can't get scissors & glue, etc. and make it easy to clean up, but not make everyone feel stressed about it...
I guess I just sometimes can't figure how to do school, keep home neat & organized, cook healthy meals, shop, and still have quality time with my husband children. I love to do all of these things, but it is wearing when I feel that I work at it so hard, but am never "caught up" always sleep deprived, home disorganized, and not spending enough quality time with everyone...I will honestly use all of your advice as I am able...and again thank you--you are all encouraging. I am thankful for these posts--it's like having coffee with a bunch of friends who are at the same point in life with the same struggles and some are further along in the journey, so thank you for helping us to learn from your journey!! Also, believe it or not, we are praying for #4, we had a miscarriage in April which confirmed how badly I would like another, but I feel God wants me to get a better handle on my home first. I also appreciate the reminder that training my children is God's plan for me right now--it is an honor but so good to be reminded of how to be in God's will because there is no peace otherwise. Thank you all!!
Oh, one last thing...advice on the 2 y/o and her unwillingness to obey, saying NO!! and swatting at me...I know there are a million discipline books out there & I've read a bunch but they just never seem to help in a specific way...spanking has not seemd to help, and I feel we have been doing it Biblically & lovingly...I know we are not to spare the rod, but I still sometimes feel unsure of how much is too much at 25 months old...any thoughts & encouragement here is also appreciated!!
Colleen, I just answered your PM but thought I would share that answer here if others were interested!
We put a large metal sheving unit in our dining room. The top has games. Then art supplies. Then 2 shelves of math manipulatives in pencil boxes or tubs, puzzles in bags, etc. The bottom 2 have crates holding papers. Beside that is a white rubbermaid tower holding pencil boxes of pencils, scissors, crayons, colored pencils, glue. One of the drawers is full of plain white or construction paper. One drawer is full of printed pages (coloring pages, letter pages, number pages, crafts, mazes, a mix for all the ages). It's all 2 steps from the table. :)
Every few weeks we go through and sort everything as needed. Just this past weekend, for example, we sorted the coloring/drawing items. Each child was given a pencil box and something to find: all the colored pencils, all the crayons, all the scissors, all the broken crayons, all the writing pencils and erasers. In about 20 minutes we had it all re-organized and the kids had fun doing it. Sorting math manipulatives works the same way. A child for dominoes, or pattern blocks, or linking cubes, or whatever is needed.
We've also used a spinning tower for coloring materials before too, just grab it and put it on the table. I have a post on my blog with pictures of all of this from last August if you want visuals. What is one each shelf has changed a bit, but it's still my sanity saver having it all there. Just check it out here: http://ourbusyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2011/08/where-we-do-school.html
Summertime is the perfect time to get this set up!
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