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Home Full of Little Kids and Homeschooling?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

So, this fall my eldest would go to kindergarten, if we did the whole school thing. I have her, a two year old, and another baby due at the end of the year. I'm starting to get a little overwhelmed. She's a bright kid. She can read, do quite a bit of arithmetic. I'm not afraid of her falling too far behind to integrate into a public school. I am worried about providing a stimulating environment for her with all the littles we will have in the home. I already feel like she misses out on stuff, because it's during the toddler's nap, or it's something where I can't bring my youngest. I remember how portable newborns are compared to into-everything-toddlers, but I also remember how wiped I was after my second child's birth when it took a few months for him to sort out his nights and days while I had an older kid awake during the day. I'm worried that "homeschooling" will end up looking like she spends a lot of time reading in her room. I'm looking for reassurance and advice on how to handle homeschooling with such a young family.

post #2 of 20

I think I was there once. Memory is hazy wink1.gif, but my older three kids are now 18, 15.5 and 13.5, so doing the math it looks like I once had a 4.5-year-old, a 2-year-old and was expecting a baby. My eldest was bright and advanced, my 2-year-old was busy-busy-busy. 

 

My youngest child is now 9, so here's what I've discovered. Kids win some and lose some thanks to their birth order. Oldest kids get 100% parental attention when they're babies. They get the advantage of being the first child in the family to ever do _____ [just about everything]. With every new step their parents are celebrating their passages alongside them for the first time ever. They get more responsibility early on. They get to play the "big kid" role as new siblings come along. Younger siblings get advantages too: a built-in playmate or playgroup providing social stimulation and an fine model of growing maturity, more easy-going parental attitudes, earlier access to older-kid resources and activities. There are some disadvantages in each situation too ... shared parental attention, hand-me-downs, limited out-of-home activities for a few years. It all comes out about even. 

 

The new baby and the younger sibling present incredible learning opportunities for your eldest too, though. I would focus on that. She may not get to take ice-skating or ballet this year, but she'll be learning so much else instead. How to butter her own toast (because your hands are holding the baby), how to take responsibility for holding her brother's hand when the family is crossing a parking lot, how to understand an accommodate the needs of a preschooler or infant, how to change a diaper, everything about infant nutrition and breastfeeding, pregnancy, birth, recuperation, sleep-wake cycles, appreciating parental needs for sleep and for help, self-entertainment, anticipating the need for help, self-care ...

 

I referred to it as the New Baby Curriculum. My eldest absolutely thrived that year! She gained so much confidence, so many new skills, she was energetic and happy. We had one or two outside activities that we were able to continue with, but the bulk of her growth was in maturity and in self-directed learning at home. Freed from the tendency towards micro-management of an overly earnest mother she blossomed in her own ways.

 

I expect you'll see the same sort of dynamic. Keep the big picture in mind. Not doing gymnastics this year won't stunt her education. Growing and learning in a growing family will open up all sorts of possibilities for her. It'll be fine!

 

Miranda

post #3 of 20

Here's what I remember.  The year we started 1st grade, the girls were 5.5, just turned 4 and newborn.  We didn't start school until November when Angela was 2-3 months old.  A lot of what we did was informal, no textbooks.  Joy loved workbooks so I bought them at the grocery store and had her do 1-2 pages in each workbook a day, depending on her interest.  We read a lot of Dr. Seuss books while I was nursing.  Joy and Erica fetched diapers, wipes, etc. for me.  Joy got their breakfast while I was upstairs with Angela in the morning.  I left the dry cereal and bowls on the table, sippy cups of milk in the fridge, and the TV already turned to what they could watch.  When I came down with Angela, I made breakfast.  They played with play dough, Legos, colored, painted, chalked on the sidewalk.  Phonics was done with magnetic letters on the fridge, making letters out of play dough, cutting out pictures that had the same first sound or that rymed.   We counted items as we picked up, sorted things into color groups, sequenced in both language and math (what comes next, what order are the colors in a rainbow, small to tall, little to big, etc.).  We didn't do formal academics in the earliest grades and skipped Kindergarten all together except as an extension of preschool activities. 

 

I was fortunate in that Angela didn't do the typical morning and afternoon naps.  She nursed around 5 am, slept until around 7, nursed and was awake until around 10 when she nursed asleep and slept for about 5 hours.  Then repeated the schedule until around 10 pm when she slept for another 5 hour stretch, waking to nurse around 2 am, 5 am, and starting her day around 7 am.  We did school work around her schedule and the school day (with the exception of field trips or home school group activities, usually held on Fridays) ended with lunch.  We had quiet time after lunch for everyone, including me. 
 

But, and this is a big but, we also didn't do a lot of outside classes.  We did a lot of family field trips to the zoo, museums, historical places, etc.  I taught a preschool class at church on Sundays during the church service and on Thursday during the women's midweek class.  There were 5-6 families in the church that home schooled.  We got together, decided on group curriculum (Konos) and had our own home school co-op.  We all had kids the same ages so the little ones had playmates while the school aged ones were learning in a group.

post #4 of 20

Hm, maybe there is a private or montessori or waldorf school that you can do part time? My SIL just enrolled her gals two (or 3?) days a week. THey are older than yours, but she just started a business and needs to work.

post #5 of 20

Miranda, that was lovely! I needed to read that today! Some days I feel so discouraged thinking I may fail at all this.

 

OP, we're in a similar position. DS formally starts kindy this fall and I'll have a very busy 3 year old and a newborn...plus we are moving both our home and business/warehouse 2k miles in October. Good times.

 

Here's what I'm thinking. DS already reads at a 3rd grade level. We've been working on math and are on the last lesson of the kindy math book. He's not quite ready to write so that's our next focus. I figure if we don't start "school" until November or even January it will be okay (kindy isn't even required in most states, many countries don't start kids until 7, etc.). In the meantime we are trying to spend a few minutes on math and writing each day (he loves playing math games). He reads constantly and has a never ending pile of library books. We try to have him bring home one or two more challenging books with each library load. We also use audio books at bed time and in the car (Winnie-the-Pooh, Beatrix Potter, and a collection of Dr. Seuss stories are currently in rotation). 

post #6 of 20

I was just talking about this with my husband! I have a 5yo (would be starting Kindergarten), a 3 yo, a 14 month old and I'm pregnant due in October.. I was wondering how I was going to keep the oldest learning and entertained while dealing with the needs of the littler ones.

 

Things Ive thought of:

Im going to make some premade kits she can do without my supervision. I did this when her brother was born and it went over really well with both of the older ones.

Im blessed my husband gets 10 days and could take more if needed. Its a slow time at his work so if needed he could take more time.

Having lessons already thought out, the work already done, so I can just grab a notebook and give the lesson.

Im enrolling her in one outside the house activity.. Shes picked dance or gymnastics so I need to look into them. Im also looking into a homeschool co-op. It would have things for my older two to do and a lot of extra hands if Im needed to help with one of the classes.

 

Im just reminding myself it would be just as hard, if not harder, if she was in regular school. First, she wouldn't be a happy camper (she doesn't like sitting still or learning things that don't interest her) and second it would take up more time. They don't do buses over here and we only have 1 car so just getting to and from school would require a lot of walking. Also as my husband told me you can't stop a willing mind from learning and you can't force the unwilling to learn.

post #7 of 20

I have a house full of little ones and here is how I do it.  DD is now in first grade and DS we are working more on preschool stuff.  I bought a pre made curriculum (my fathers world) so I grab the stack and the prep is already done.  We are pretty lame in the morning right now (due to me being so pg) and don't get a whole lot done other than chores and milking and some house stuff.  So after lunch when my two little boys are taking a nap we do school.  At this point it isn't overly time consuming so we are almost always done by the time they have taken a good nap.  Then the kids go outside and play for the rest of the afternoon.  We don't do any coop or dance or anything- but they do get to go along with DH or me when we go practically anywhere- like for seed, the sale barn, the actual barn, groceries, church, etc.  It also seems like there are lots of people coming and going on our farm and the kids interact with all of them- so I think they quite a lot of stimulation.

 

Don't let yourself fall into the trap of feeling guilty about not being able to give 8 hours of undivided attention to your oldest for school.  Homeschool doesn't take even close to that long especially at the K or 1st grade level.

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmom327 View Post

Miranda, that was lovely! I needed to read that today! Some days I feel so discouraged thinking I may fail at all this.

 

OP, we're in a similar position. DS formally starts kindy this fall and I'll have a very busy 3 year old and a newborn...plus we are moving both our home and business/warehouse 2k miles in October. Good times.

 

 

ditto! I'm in a similar boat. I have a 4, 3 and 1 yo. Though I don't feel any pressure to do academics with my 4yo, I often feel guilty b/c since the baby dropped his am nap, I don't do nearly as much reading/craft time stuff with my preschoolers as I used to when we had our alone time during his morning nap. And now since I am so tired from night wakings (still) I lay down myself during the afternoon nap when my oldest is having a bit of quiet time herself. I am so exhausted -emotionally honestly more than physically--taking care of this brood that I haven't been successful at replacing that morning "school" time with something else. Yet, my 3 and 4 year old play all day and are constantly learning. My oldest continues to amaze me at her reading and adding skills that she's just picked up, vocabulary and even interest in handwriting though we're not doing anything formal. All that to say, I understand where you are coming from!

post #9 of 20

This fall, we will have a 17 yo (public school), a 6 year old (1st grade homeschool), identical twin 4yo boys, and the new baby. I'm stressing a bit, but my husband keeps reassuring me that we can do this.

 

Deep breaths.

post #10 of 20

My kids are 7, 5, 3, 1, and I'm due with #5.

 

Mornings are focused more on the younger ones.  We just deal with normal life.   Breakfast, getting dressed, tidying up, playing with toys, coloring, the park, you know, basic toddler stuff.  The bigger ones do more or less based on their mood, and my needs.  They spend a lot of time outside.  After lunch, the little two take a nap, and I need some down time.  So, I give the bigger ones "jobs".  Some days I send them down to fold the laundry.  Sometimes they read, or write a letter to someone.  One day they sorted all the change in our money drawer, then followed a recipe to make lemon sorbet.  There are always little jobs and fun things that they can do on their own, and they really enjoy the freedom.  It doesn't take much to get them started, and they are engaged and learning far more than I could ever "teach" them anyway.  I just have to stay one step ahead of them in thinking up things to suggest.

 

The other day, I pulled out a book about weather, and showed a tiny bit to dd1.  Then I "forgot" about it.  Within 2 days, she had scoured our bookshelf for other books about weather, devoured them, and is now quoting weather facts and trying her hand at forecasting.

 

Every now and then, I'll show them a youtube video, or order a book from amazon.  I try to pay attention to their interests, and expand them.  It really doesn't take much.  They love to watch Mr. Rogers (free on amazon instant play), and are inspired to try things they see. 

 

I believe it is far more important to guard what we keep OUT of our children's lives, than to worry so much about what goes IN.  I view education kind of like I do food.  Just keeping the good stuff around, and the bad stuff out, the details take care of themselves.  My children don't have access to video games, mindless tv, or flashy whizz bang toys.  They do have a calm environment with plenty of quality supplies and toys to explore and discover to their heart's content. 

post #11 of 20

Truly, I believe that before they are seven, they are learning so much more from living and seeing us live and do the things that we do anyway with people we love, that even if you were to do formal homeschooling and enrol her in a load of classes, you wouldn't do her anywhere near as much good as just letting her be with you while you live your life. I know that it often doesn't feel that way. I felt really bad for my oldest when he was 4.5 and his youngest sister was born and so, for the second time in his life, he couldn't do x y and z like his friends (for some reason, he had a lot of only child friends at that time). But looking back, he was SO young then. She might have a few months of reading in her room, but long term it will be fine. More than fine. Actually, my experience has been that 2- 2.5 year age gaps are great for homeschooling, for a whole load of reasons. It will be fine.

 

Try not to stress too much about the months following the birth. I think most people go under a bit then, the tv is on more, its not usually the peak time for great artistic endeavors or homeschooling breakthroughs. Keep your family together and plan to take a bit of time out. In the grand scheme of your children's life, it is FAR more important that they see the time when their sibling came into the family as generally positive than that they are on track with academics.Remember also that your kids are learning about how to handle life from you, so about how to live in a larger family, how to consider the needs of other smaller people, as well as obviously things like how babies are fed etc-again, I'd say, long term, this is far more useful and important than anything else I can think of that a 4 yo might learn.

post #12 of 20

Truly, I believe that before they are seven, they are learning so much more from living and seeing us live and do the things that we do anyway with people we love, that even if you were to do formal homeschooling and enrol her in a load of classes, you wouldn't do her anywhere near as much good as just letting her be with you while you live your life. I know that it often doesn't feel that way. I felt really bad for my oldest when he was 4.5 and his youngest sister was born and so, for the second time in his life, he couldn't do x y and z like his friends (for some reason, he had a lot of only child friends at that time).I remember one horrible time when we met with friends and he was the only child who couldn't go out on the boating lake. But OTOH, that experience then actually probably got him interested in sailing, swimming etc. Looking back, although he seemed like a big child and all decisions seemed huge, he was SO young then. My youngest is now nearly that age and tbh she seems very young to me.

 

She might have a few months of reading in her room, but long term it will be fine. More than fine. Actually, my experience has been that 2- 2.5 year age gaps are great for homeschooling, for a whole load of reasons. It will be fine. Also, a high proportion of HSing families have several kids with a 2 year gap. It all works out.

 

Try not to stress too much about the months following the birth. I think most people go under a bit then, the tv is on more, its not usually the peak time for great artistic endeavors or homeschooling breakthroughs. Keep your family together and plan to take a bit of time out. In the grand scheme of your children's life, it is FAR more important that they see the time when their sibling came into the family as generally positive than that they are on track with academics.Remember also that your kids are learning about how to handle life from you, so about how to live in a larger family, how to consider the needs of other smaller people, as well as obviously things like how babies are fed etc-again, I'd say, long term, this is far more useful and important than anything else I can think of that a 4 yo might learn.

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

 My youngest is now nearly that age and tbh she seems very young to me.

 

 

 

This is so true. I see children at x age and remember when my ds2 was that age and how he seemed so big but the other child now seems so little. My dd is a SN kiddo so that's apples and oranges. 

 

But I also tend to forget this. Esp with ds2 since he is so mature (most of the time) and brilliant. He picks things up after one brief conversation and talks about it forever. I love it :)

post #14 of 20

I am glad to be reading this. My children are 5, 7, and almost 3 months. The older 2 went to public school this year and it was not a good expeirience for anyone. Our original plan was to homeschool, so we are giving it a go in the fall. in order for this to work, I am also doing in home childcare. So far I am only watching one other child, an 18 month old, but am hoping for 1-2 more for financial freedom. (we have also paid our 2 biggest bills ahead for the year) In my head I have mornings devoted to the littles (my big girls are much more alert for learning if they sleep in anyways), a bit of learning time during nap, a bit of self led learning in the afternoons, then a review after baby sis goes to bed at night. I am also enrolled part time at a community college, so 1-2 nights a week I will have class.

post #15 of 20
I'm also dealing with this....my DS1 would be in K this fall, DD is almost 3.5, and DS2 is 10 months old and high needs. I work part-time and recently had to pick up an extra day while someone is on maternity leave. It's all i can do to keep my head above water, sometimes, much less do any school. I've been encouraged in the thread I started about this to relax and just do the best I can. My problem is that DS2 pretty much won't even let us read without screaming at us. And I see so many people post here that their 5 y/o reads....DS1 does not. Not even sure he's close. He is very smart at concepts though, so I'm hoping things will come together quickly once we have some more time.

But it's hard not to feel bad....
post #16 of 20

CurlyFry, not all children are ready to read at this age. Check out the unschooling thread. Plenty of late bloomers, which tells me that ability to read is like everything else, it varies from child to child. Your ds1 will read when he's ready :)

post #17 of 20

This is encouraging to read. I'm overwhelmed at the thought of homeschooling just one with a toddler. My son is 3 1/2 so he's still on the young side and by the time he's of kindy age, his sister will actually be 2 1/2 so it's not too bad lol. We're also done having kids though, so knowing that the baby will already be an older toddler when DS is in kindy helps my outlook a little. I was homeschooled from 3rd through 8th grade and went to three different private/christian schools before that. I went to public high school. I loved all my experiences, but I want to start out my kids in homeschool and if later on we decided public is better for them, we'll figure it out then. I have a feeling my son is ADHD though just like his dad..so I'm already in that mindset that homeschooling will be better for him than public school. I feel like in the beginning we will focus alot on day to day..cooking, food preservation..we are going to be getting chickens in the next few years, and just learning with everything we do. The only thing I worry about is socialization with his peers. I'm a part of 2 different homeschooling groups already, but haven't really done anything yet, since he's just in preschool), but he knows all his letters and counts to 60, and knows his colors, shapes all that.. We are working on writing and reading a little but he's still 3 1/2 and has the attention span of a gnat lol. :)

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curlyfry7 View Post

And I see so many people post here that their 5 y/o reads....DS1 does not. Not even sure he's close. He is very smart at concepts though, so I'm hoping things will come together quickly once we have some more time.
But it's hard not to feel bad....

 

My 9.5yo didn't start reading until he turned 8yo. We had done a few "Teach Your Child To Read" lessons, and purchased all the Leap Frog Number/Letter videos. He started with reading signs along the road, sounding them out as we were at a stoplight. Now he can read anything you put in front of him. 

 

My 6yo doesn't read at all, but he's starting to pay more attention to letters and their sounds and putting them together. *shrug*

 

It will happen when he's ready. :)

post #19 of 20

I've homeschooled (with my husband overseas) with four kids under six in the house. It's possible but sometimes you have to let the little ones entertain themselves to get the work done. We're now looking into it again with five kids under eight. Again, it's possible but you have to take advantage of each spare minute which can get tiring.

 

I don't think it's unusual for a five year old to be reading. Our oldest was reading fluently within days of turning six and our second, now 6.5, reads chapter books and has no problem looking things up alone in a children's dictionary or encyclopedia. I think it's well worth the time to teach a younger child to read since it means they are able to learn and do schoolwork on their own without you there to read the directions or the book aloud (not that there is anything wrong with that but there isn't always time when younger kids need your attention). 

post #20 of 20

My kids are 14,10,8 almost 6, 2.5 and 11 months.

 

Every year we have a baby some of the younger kids "lose" school work.  There are just somethings that we don't get to finish or that gets pushed to the wayside.  They grow in character that year and all of them like to read so its okay.  Older kids take turns with younger kids so school work can get done.  My 14 and 10 year old have a lot of work that they do on their own. 

 

I've never formally schooled for kindergarten.  I read to them alot. We go places and we spend alot of time outside.  Kindergarten in our house is learning scripture, how to work in a group and life skills etc.  As they get older I add in school work.  They learn how to read in first grade and its never held them back. Please don't stress.  Kindergarten is so very young and should be filled with playing and being a child.  They will "catch up" when they are older and can read etc.

 

Chandi

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