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