multiple kids all needing my help . . . HELP

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  • dellos5

    This is just our second semester of HSing, so I could use some advice.  My kids are ages 7, 9, and 12.  We just began Tues and like last semester, the first week is a little rocky, but I’m hopeful and still enjoying it.  I know it gets better after the first month . . . but my biggest struggle (also had challenges w/ this last semester) is when I’m working with one child and another child needs help. 

    I’ve sheduled our family boxes (going well) and our 3 boxes of individual work.  I do Guided work with my youngest first while the other two do independent work (30-45 min), then Guided w/ second child (30-45 min), then third.  I tried to explain that they need to try and work through it alone and if they can’t, to put it aside and wait for their Guided time.  But they get so frustrated and feel ignored and unimportant.  They want to finish and don’t know what else to do or have completed their other work. 

    It’s been frustrating with all the interruptions and kids that are upset, waiting their turn.  How could I deal with this better?





    I’m not in your situation yet, but could the 12yo help one of the youngers?


    Diana, it may be that blocks of 30-45 minutes are too long, right now, for your children to cope with on their own.  I think this problem is one that most of us with multiple children face part of the time, but it seems you are all pretty frustrated.  I really work over my schedule, usually in shorter segments, and make sure that I am balancing working with one with an activity my others can easily do.  For example, when my oldest two are doing Latin, they need a lot of help from me at times.  That would be a really bad time to schedule, say, math with my third.  Instead, I put something REALLY easy for my third child, like copywork.  I save the more challenging things for my youngest child when I KNOW the older two are doing ok–like reading a book.  When I plan out my schedule, I put all the kids’ subjects on color-coded cards, then I look at each 15-20 minute block of time from the perspective of who will likely need my help–and I try to balance things out so they all won’t need me at once. 

    I think you need to identify the specific items your children are having difficulty doing on their own, and rearrange schedules and times, shorten up the time blocks and see if you can balance things out better.

    That said, there are still going to be mornings when everyone wants you at once, the dryer goes off and the phone rings, all at the same time.  🙂 



    My kids do copywork when they are waiting on me. They can take their time and be productive. If they finish this before I’m able to help them  then they can practice math facts or work on one of their notebooking projects. This solved this problem for us – the children are learning to make good use of their time, being productive and patience.


    We are experiencing ‘start up pain’ this week too. I am finding a lot of it has to do with my kids expectations of me and how easily I give in to their complaints. I had to rework a few things like my dd math because she does it on the computer, so far needs very little help and is up waaaay earlier than her teenage brother. So instead of having her math mid day she is doing it first thing in the morning and then reading or doing something else productive during their math block. I agree with Michelle to make sure what you ask them to do independantly is pretty easy to do, the reward for mine finishing early is they get to choose how to occupy the rest of the block (within reason, lol) while I am with the sibling. It was harder with three when they used to egg each other on, but it can be done, and its part of the training I have them at home for. Now I just have to figure out how to carry it over to all aspects of the housework:)Explain to the olders, especially the 12yo that their personal choice novels can always be with them and if they are stuck, really stuck, they can read quietly. Mine aren’t great readers so that option usually has them working harder on the original task!

    Good luck!



    Hello.  Glad to have joined the group!  

    I have a few ideas for Diana and really enjoy reading all of the helpful ideas from all of you!    

    1.)Have them skip (if possible) the area that they need help in and move to a different problem or subject until later.  (They could circle the problem or fold the page or underline etc., to remind themselves and you that it was skipped.)

    2.)  They may need only a quick reminder or an encouraging word to continue. (Which could mean only a minor interruption.)

    3.) See if they can work to solve their problem on their own for 3-5 minutes while you transition from one child to the next.

    4.)  Remember, our schedule is only a good framework and it is not our goal to stick to the schedule, it is our goal to love and educate our children. Oh, how I forget this too often.  The wasp in the window interrupts math but perhaps it is the perfect opportunity to study the wasp.  


    5.)  Lately, I’ve been puposely thinking of my home as a place where education takes place, not a place where “school” takes place.  Charlotte Mason used the word “educate” often.  This frees me up as a mother to provide an education, not a “school”.  This has greatly encouraged me to give-in when interruptions occur…at least, that is what I hope to do…I am still learning and growing in many area…yielding to God’s Spirit and trying to be more faithful and less fearful.


    Love and encouragement from a fellow home educator in the trenches.  (ages 18,13,8,3,and 2)  



    Hi Diana,

    You have recieved lots of wonderful advice already!  I just wanted to add that for us, it works that for the first 3 hours of school I don’t answer the phone.  I turn it completely down,(so I am not tempted to pick it up).  My husband and oldest daughter know that if it is important they are to hang up and call back immediatly.  I also can not do housework, because there is ALWAYS something to be done and I found myself just giving them check off sheets and not really being involved.  This has worked for us.




    For me it is scheduling!!  I have them do there indepenant things while I am working with my little 2 and then I have a block of time at the end where if they are stuck they can come to me.  Also, as I thought I read that if they don’t get it they are to but it down do something else and come back to it, sometime this is all they really need.  This is working of us and it was the scheduling that really master it, cause it say’s on there “Mom’s free”, that way they know at that time they can come to me without interupting. Good luck we have 6 kids and the only one I can’t get to understand this is the 7 month old?? LOLWink


    thanks to everyone for all the great advice.  I think the shorter segments of time might be the key.  I’m already not answering the phone or doing anything else and I try to schedule easy things for them to do – it just might be too much time to wait.  Maybe 20 min. segments would work better until they get the hang of this schedule.  I have to remind myself that we are only in the first week, so most of the info is still new.




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