We're fairly new to homeschooling, with young kids--boys ages 6.5 and almost 3. Older Brother is doing AO year 1. I have yet to set up any kind of rigid schedule, but in general, we do about 3 days of "school" each week. One additional day is spent with our CM co-op, which is like a 4th day of school. For our 3 days at home, our morning routine works pretty well, from wake-up through morning chores, breakfast & a few independent activities for Older Brother (nature/weather journal & rehearsal of current Bible passage & memory poem).
The other routine that works fairly well is for me to do some AO reading with Older Brother before his rest time, after Little Brother is down for his nap. We do one AO reading and usually one chapter of a free reading book (Little House).
Here's the trouble: I'm trying to get us into more of a "school" routine in the mornings. We've started math (RightStart), and I also like to do hymns, Bible, Spanish & one AO reading. And I still need to add copywork.
This all sounds great, but the problem is that Little Brother creates MAJOR distractions. I'm feeling really frazzled and discouraged in my attempts to accomplish Older Brother's lessons while tending to his busy Little Brother. Older Brother is feeling greatly frustrated by the constant interruptions from Little Brother, and I can sympathize! It's hard to concentrate on what Mom is reading, or on narrating back to her, when your little brother is continually asking questions or trying to engage us in his play. (And he's not being bad, just being a normal toddler.)
Soooo, I've been researching toddler/preschool activities and have found lots of wonderful "busy bag" ideas. I've tried a few of them, and they've gone over well. The first time. The second time we get out an activity, it seems like "old hat" and doesn't interest Little Brother anymore.
I guess my questions are:
--What is a realistic expectation for a 2/3yo during morning school time? Should I invest time into training him along the lines of "this is school time, you need to stay over here, you need to work on this until you finish, please don't interrupt while I'm reading" or should I let him run around pell-mell and pepper us with questions?
--Is 1 to 1.5 hours of school (in the morning) realistic in this case?
--Any tips for HOW to implement busy bags? I've got lots of activities, but am struggling to determine how to use them. Do I select the activities each day, or does he pick? How many activities? How can I rotate them so that we're using each activity more than once, but he's not getting bored with the same activities over and over? I don't want to overcomplicate this or create lots of extra work for myself, but I do think he needs to be actively engaged with something he can do fairly independently. And how do we switch from one activity to the next--do I train him to put away each activity before moving on to the next (some of them have many small parts) or just not worry about it until the end of lessons? I NEED SOME KIND OF SYSTEM HERE! Lately, our morning school sessions seem to end in frustration and negative interaction, for both Older Brother and myself.
--Any other general suggestions?