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Are you wondering how to homeschool when you have younger siblings around? I get this question a lot! And the answer is different each day. Homeschooling with little ones in tow can be a challenge. Here are some tools I’ve found that help!
How do I homeschool with little ones in the house? I get this question a lot! And the answer is different each day. When I started homeschooling mine I had many daycare kids here! They were all just little, so they all joined in on the fun of preschool! Now, my girls are older, and my boy is preschool age and quite frankly he keeps me busier than the other ones ever did!
There are a few resources and tips I have gathered through the years that have helped me homeschool the older kids even with younger ones in the home. Hopefully, they will help you too!
Let Them “Have School”
This is my number one tip if you are wondering how to homeschool with younger siblings. The little ones just want to feel included. Let them have time with you BEFORE you start homeschooling the older ones. This could be something as simple as reading a book. Doing a worksheet, playing a game, or another activity that seems “school like”.
Take Lots of Breaks
Our WORST year of homeschooling was honestly the year my youngest was a toddler. That year we almost threw in the towel. He was SUCH a distraction and made homeschooling the older kids VERY difficult. But, we didn’t give up. We trudged through and one thing that saved our homeschool was taking lots and lots of breaks.
It was this year that I hit homeschool burnout as well. And I honestly think it is because I had the mindset that we had to finish school before lunch each day. I mean who made that rule? In that season of life, it didn’t fit our active boy. So, we started scheduling in breaks. After each subject we would take a 15-minute break, I would read a book, play a game, or do something fun with my boy. If I couldn’t due to other household responsibilities, or even just needing to breathe myself the girls would. He NEEDED this time to feel involved, and not “left out”. This is also the year we implemented 2-4 time (read about that here). Not because THEY needed it, but because I NEEDED it.
As homeschool moms, we have to fuel ourselves so we can educate our kids. We also have to make sure each child in our homes needs is being met. Some kids are going to require more time from us. That is how my boy was. And you know what? That’s okay! Our school days were longer that year, but taking the breaks we needed made us all a lot happier than trying to rush through school just to meet some “rule” that didn’t fit our homeschooling season.
Have Resources ONLY for School Time
Through the years the BEST way I have found to keep my preschooler happy is to let them do school of their own. By giving your younger kids special tools that can only be used at school time you are encouraging them to learn through play, you are making them feel like they are learning right alongside their siblings and you are allowing them to learn skills that will last a lifetime (and they don’t even realize it)! Oh, and you are also doing another important thing teaching the older ones! Many of our favorite memories of tot and preschool include resources like puzzles, counting bears, and other fun hands-on activities. Kids love these sorts of resources and bringing them out ONLY at school time is a GENIUS way to keep them busy while you homeschool the older kids. Here are a few of our favorite homeschooling resources for younger siblings.
My girls loved doing puzzles when they were preschool age, and my boy does too. We are HUGE fans of large floor puzzles like this one. These floor puzzles have big pieces so little ones are able to put them together easily. This means they get to play with puzzles while mom works with the big kids!
Foam puzzles are another huge hit in our home! There are TONS available. Some of MY favorites are ones that teach the ABC’s and the 123’s. These puzzles help your preschooler work on letter recognition and counting skills. The pieces are easily put back together and your preschooler can be learning right along with the big kids and not even realize it!
Activities That Work on Fine Motor Skills
One thing that has always kept my preschoolers happy while teaching the older siblings are fine motor activities. These include things like lacing cards, magnetic boards, and stacking toys. Fine motor skills are an important skill to be learned in preschool, and activities like these are TONS of fun for preschoolers. They are also able to play with these items with little to no help from mom, which means YOU will be able to spend time teaching the older ones.
There are SO many things you can do with counting bears! I think these are a MUST have for any family with a preschooler. Some of the activities your preschooler can do alone are sort his counting bears, count his counting bears and just PLAY with the counting bears.
Some activities you can do one on one with your preschoolers while you’re older children finish work is graphing, patterning, and matching bears with number flash cards.
Dry Erase Boards
A dry erase board and marker has been a must through the years in our homeschool. Each child has one, and they have all practiced writing their name on them as well as just doodling. One thing I do to keep my preschooler happy while teaching the older ones is letting them trace their names on the dry erase board. Within a few weeks, you may be surprised to see that they can write their name all on their own!
Cut and Paste Activity Books
What preschooler doesn’t like to cut? Activity books like this scissor skills book are PERFECT for preschoolers who want to learn to cut “all by themselves”. The scissors cut nothing but paper, the lines are big, and the skills get more difficult the more activities the child does.
My boy was able to do this activity while I did a history lesson with his sisters. He was SO proud of himself!! I did have to help him by taping two pieces of paper together so it all fit.
These are a few tips and resources that helped us make it through the younger siblings, not in school season. Did we still have days where the little kids distracted us all? Of course! But, that is life. The question is how did we respond to those distractions? What did we model to our kids? Is it that the little ones get in the way? Or is it that they have needs too? I’ll admit some days my response was the first one. But, my response SHOULD have been the second one. It is on those days I need to remember to give myself AND my little ones grace. Attention. And more of what they really need.
What is your biggest tip for those homeschool moms struggling to manage younger siblings?
Want more information about how to homeschool? Check out my book Homeschool 101!