I am having problems "schooling" around my little girl. She is so busy. We try to take advantage of nap time.... but it isn't very long. And sometimes it doesn't coincide with a good time for my boys. They may not want to sit down and read with me then. Or "do" math.... whether working with CR or playing a math game. I feel like I was more unschooly with a smaller bunch. I was comfortable with the very loose structure. I was never a radical unschooler but I felt I fit more into the US category than anything else. We may not be learning from a textbook but we were learning. All of us. Now, I feel like all I do is chase my daughter. I wear her on my back a lot to keep her out of trouble. But I can't always wear her. She starts to get cranky after awhile. My efforts to occupy her with something ( ie the boys are working with paper and pencil so I give her paper and pencil or crayon etc.....) are typically very short lived. She is reaching across the table to their work in no time. She doesn't want to be somewhere else. Oh how I wish I could get her to play with toys in another room.... I don't expect this for hours but 15 minutes might be nice. I feel like we are in chaos and the longer it stays like this, the more I clamp down and require x number of pages in a book. I don't like this. My kids don't like this. I just feel pushed to make sure they are learning and it certainly doesn't feel like we are learning. I posted here awhile ago and asked if US was possible with a larger family. The responses were very encouraging but I am having problems. I don't know what to do.
My kids are 5 and 2.5. I feel exactly like you do. When I had just one I would bring out puzzles and scissors and do all kinds of motivating stuff. Now I keep everyone alive and try to keep my little one from screaming when she is bored. I can't imagine what it must be like with 5 kids.
The thing is, my son (5 year old) and I were at the grocery store today and there were some ball candies wrapped in foil decorated like the earth. He said, "Look at the earth balls." Wow. Where did he come to so easily recognize the earth? It's not a huge thing. There's plenty of books we've read and we have a globe we look at sometimes. But despite my feeling frazzled for the last 2.5 years, he has learned to identify the earth. He also knows how boat propellers and opaque glass are made. When we were at the grocery store I said to get six bags of frozen mangoes (we eat a lot of smoothies.) "So we get 3 bags each in our carts?" Where did he learn simple division?
I want to present a lot more ideas to my kids than I do right now, but with a 2 year old in the house it just feels impossible. I've been assured that will happen more as the little one gets older. So for the most part I try not to stress about it. I do what I can and just let everything else happen.
I can't imagine doing anything more with five kids and the youngest being under 2.
Thank you for your encouraging words, Sunday. You are right. When you step back to look at the forest, I know my children are learning. I need to really notice those moments and hang on to them.
Yesterday my 8 year old was looking through a HighLights publication about New York state. He was solving riddles by matching facts. One of the factoids was about when the Statue of Liberty was built. I said, "do you have to find the answer on the back side of the map?" He replied that was where the answers could be found but he already knew when France built and dedicated Lady Liberty. Some other book he read. He plows through books (right now he is on book 13 of the Hardy Boys.....hardly a classic but he LOVES mysteries!) His ability to read and spell improves daily. He has a great vocabulary.
It can be hard when you are having a particularly bad day or week. Sometimes it seems it is my little girl or sometimes my boys are not revved up to learn. I remember reading in a Holt book that sometimes your children might have a "tiger in their tank" and sometimes not so much, but that is OK. He talked about the importance of the "down time" in their learning.
When I write all this I calm down. I know this. Heck, I have calmed down other HS moms. I just seem to lose this peaceful outlook when the rubber hits the road with my kids.
Is the best thing to just keep working around my youngest? I want to include her as much as I can but it seems so difficult at this point. Maybe as the weather warms up we can do more outside and she can be a part of that. I have a friend who does "play dates" with siblings while she is giving more focused attention to her older ones. Does anyone else do that with success? What strategies have you employed? What seems to work for you? What has not?
I agree that keeping a note of the little things you notice might make you feel less pressured.
I have a very busy four year old who was a very, very busy two year old two years ago. She was a snipper of paper, a scribbler and a deliberate wrecker of her sister's creations. Our saving grace was that she loved the garden. She could be out there for half an hour at a time on her own, playing in the sand or making mud or just pottering about before getting bored or wanting a drink or being 'needy' again.
My older dd (now 8) was very frustrated with her sister and still is on many occasions although they have fantastic times when they get along amazingly and are very loving. Do bear in mind is that your older children are learning a lot from their sister and the dynamic that exists in your family right now.
Do bear in mind is that your older children are learning a lot from their sister and the dynamic that exists in your family right now. These lessons may not be quantifiable at the moment but they will affect their perspective on challenges and opportunities, patience and tolerance and more. My older boys (17 and 14) have learned a lot about life from their little sisters and I'm sure it is standing them in good stead for their future as partners and parents.
At this point you probably do need to keep working around her as she is probably the least able to meet her own needs.
How do your other children feel about how things are going?
My boys do at times get frustrated when their sister is on the "wrecking path" but most of the time they tolerate her craziness pretty well. Especially my 6 year old who is VERY intense about his creations. Overall, I am proud of how attentive and loving they are towards their baby sister.
I know you are right about this not being "subject matter" at an institutional school but very important in shaping who they are as people. I have said (when I am not freaking out) that my goal is not to produce the most genius kids but a close family and kids with good character. I believe it is much better for them to be good people than uber smart. It is nice to be reminded sometimes.
When my son was a very active toddler I had similar issues with doing any "sit down" or "project" time with DD. Granted, she's always been very independent at entertaining herself, but still I feel your pain.
My advice to you would be to just Let Go of "schooling" in any way. Right now you have a more-than-full-time job in dealing with a toddler. And the truth is, they don't stay toddlers for long, y'know? ;-)
In another 1 - 2 years your youngest will have changed, as of course you know having three older ones, lol. But what I'm trying to say is one or two years is nothing and if your kids don't get "learning time" with you in that time its not like they won't learn anything regardless.
If they were complaining about it I'd work with them to work with you, kwim? But if they are not enthusiastic about doing sit=down work with you anyways, i wouldn't add to your stress/workload by trying to push it while at the same time dealing with a curious and active toddler!
So all of this is my way of saying: give yourself permission to not think about active schooling until your youngest is a bit older and can self-entertain better.