5 yo and a 1yo: give me tips! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 11-05-2012, 07:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds is 5 and we've started some homeschooling. We would be described as unschoolers. Ds has a strong desire to engage in math activities (has enjoyed math for several years, has a keen sense of mathematical concepts etc), he's had some interest in learning to read (he can make his way through most of the 1st level bob books and some of the second level ones- he bought them for himself at a yard sale!), loves being read to especially "information" books (is very sensitive to drama in stories, has never made it through an entire movie because of that), nature exploration is high on his list of things he loves.

Ok, so we live with a 16 month old baby. She is our housemates' baby an I nanny her during the week (9-5 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday- Fridays I teach at ds's coop school). She takes one nap (maybe 1.5 hours).

So it is like I have two kids most days 5 and 1 and I'm trying to figure out how to meet my 5yos needs/desires while keeping the baby safe/entertained and making sure there is low resentment from ds to the baby (ie I don't want him to feel like he doesn't get to do stuff because of her although sometimes that is the truth).

For instance he enjoys experimenting with cuisenaire rods and wants to go through the numbers 1-10 and figure out how many ways he can come up with the make each number (awesome right? Totally his idea) BUT we can't use them when the baby is awake because they are tiny and she destroys his creations. We can do stuff during her nap but sometimes he wants to do something else (and it goes against my idea of child led learner to force him to engage in certain activities just because the baby is sleeping, ya know. I suggest but sometimes he is engaged in something else).

Now that I've written a short novel, here is my more succinct question: parents with multiple kids please give me some ideas thanks!!!
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#2 of 13 Old 11-05-2012, 09:31 AM
 
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My younger one liked to scribble at the same table while the older one did any worksheets, and now that he's 3.5 he has started drawing during those times. Sometimes I'd set DS1 up with something to work on, explain what to do, then take DS2 and play with me. You could also use some math manipulatives and letter toys that are safer for babies, large enough balls, tp/paper towel cylinders, blocks, educational toys, then they can each use the same things and main challenge is to make sure they keep their shares of the toys separate and the baby doesn't mess up what your son is doing. Maybe get some ideas from the book Family Math? I haven't got it yet but it's on my wish list. Nature projects could be fun with a littler one present anyway, have her help collect things like leaves and acorns or just bring her along on a walk with some specific observation goals for you and DS (what are the birds and squirrels doing, how many kinds of plants can you identify, what's the weather doing, etc). Oh also DS1 used to like to act out stories with babies in them and have DS2 be that baby, put on a play a little bit. DS2 doesn't co-operate as well for that anymore at 3 lol. Include the 5 yo in household work or play that mimics it, maybe the baby can mimic it too or just be around playing with a toy at those times. And he can serve pretend food to the baby or pretend to sell things to her, things like that.

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#3 of 13 Old 11-06-2012, 07:47 AM
 
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I think what I'd do is sit him down and talk with him about the situation. Five is usually easily old enough to make decisions and follow them through, with help. I'd talk about what he wants to learn. I actually would ask him specifically if he wants to learn more about those things that you've identified he seems interested in, and whether he wants your help to do it.

 

I think I'd then explain to him that you are generally fairly busy, in effect it seems like you are working except when the baby is napping. I don't see any problem with explaining to a 5 year old that you can only be available to help at certain times, or that certain games can only be used when the baby is napping. Believe me pretty much every single older sibling has learnt this! To me that's just the truth of it, really, certain things can't be done at certain times and that's just life. So, either, he has to come and play the games with you when she's napping, or not play the games, or else think of a third option that is fair to all three of you. I think at the end of the day that is the main tactic I've used, talking and negotiating and being honest. 

 

My underlying feeling is that there is probably not much you haven't tried. 16 month olds are hard work, into everything. They don't generally have the concentration span needed to be occupied with something else. I think the key to getting through this is probably to talk with your son. Remember 5 is still young academically, he will be fine just playing for a little longer til the baby is older.


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#4 of 13 Old 11-06-2012, 08:24 AM
 
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He is old enough to make some choices (though when my youngest was that age she acted baffled when I reminded her of her choice "But I didn't mean it!")

 

You need a work surface or space he can have his tiny things on that the baby can't reach.  You still might have to distract the baby, and he needs to know that when he chooses to bring things out, that means you might need to play a game with the baby or read to her to distract her.  For now... for now.... he might need to choose between your attention and those tiny toys.

 

Unless its at nap time and I totally agree with Fillyjonk that you can talk with him about this.  But he might still make his own decisions.  As long as he knows you are available and he is making that choice.  I think I would keep him company nearby, though any way.  I often plunk myself down near the girls' games and just read or tidy up toys slowly, do some minor housework that can be easily interrupted.  

 

Our tiny toys were put in a cupboard so they wouldn't get lost.  They were stashed in a teacup and we called them "teacup toys".  Soon every tiny toy became a "tea cup toy" and they were played with on a table and were put away, not left out like all the other bazillion toys in our house.

 

I remind them of their choices.  They are creatures of the moment and they make their choices in that moment and that is just where they are.


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#5 of 13 Old 11-06-2012, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks folks.  For the record I don't have a problem at all with Ds "just" playing all day.  It is more his desire to (occasionally) do more structured activities.  And he loves playing with the baby (he LOVES her) so that's cool.  Ds would always choose to stay with me and the baby rather than using smaller toys somewhere else (or even in the same room up high- kitchen table for instance).  He's never been a "play alone" kinda kid.  

 

He totally gets what he can and shouldn't play with when the baby is awake. He's usually the first to say we have to put something away because it isn't safe to have out with her around.  And he understands that it is "our" job to watch the baby during the day.  

 

I guess I was hoping for someone with some magical thing like"my 5 yo does these amazing child directed activities while the baby magically sits quietly in the corner with a board book because I have purchased pixie dust from amazon." or something like that winky.gif

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#6 of 13 Old 11-06-2012, 12:00 PM
 
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haha.  No, sorry. That book does not exist. I think actually for a very good reason: 16 month olds aren't really able to go and entertain themselves. 

 

I think it sounds like you have it sorted. Just remember this time with the baby is a learning time for him as much as anything else.

 

I am slightly confused about one thing and asking out of nosiness really, you mention that he goes to school at least one day a week (sorry its not clear if its one or two days). Also, you seem to have weekends and evenings free? Sorry if I'm totally missing something but can't you just do stuff then, if he wants to do stuff? We are relatively structured homeschoolers in many ways but even we didn't seriously try to homeschool with a baby under 3.


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#7 of 13 Old 11-06-2012, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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haha.  No, sorry. That book does not exist. I think actually for a very good reason: 16 month olds aren't really able to go and entertain themselves. 

 

I think it sounds like you have it sorted. Just remember this time with the baby is a learning time for him as much as anything else.

 

I am slightly confused about one thing and asking out of nosiness really, you mention that he goes to school at least one day a week (sorry its not clear if its one or two days). Also, you seem to have weekends and evenings free? Sorry if I'm totally missing something but can't you just do stuff then, if he wants to do stuff? We are relatively structured homeschoolers in many ways but even we didn't seriously try to homeschool with a baby under 3.

Nosiness is fine....

 

Ds goes to a coop (its a mixed age group 2-6 years old) he goes 2 times a week without me and once a week with me (its a much longer story than this, but basically we had other plans for this year and due to some stuff we are where we are).

 

Yes we have evenings, but by 5pm we need to be making dinner (which ds helps with often which is a great learning opportunity) and by the time we eat dinner its practically bedtime!  We do sometimes engage in some things in the evenings but the evenings are what we lovingly refer to as "ds's crazy time" when he runs around and tries to get attention from anyone he can (there are 7 adults in our household).  But the baby is still here.  She lives with us (her parents also live with us) so its not like she goes "home" at 5pm, she's always at home (even when she is with us).  Its more like siblings but I'm only "officially" on duty until 5pm.

 

Weekends we totally do stuff too its true (maybe I should spend 2 weeks making a note every time we do something that could be "counted" as homeschooling and then reevaluate if it really seems like ds is asking for more than that.)  

 

I guess I read these posts on here and on blogs about people doing multiple hours of work with their 5 year olds and I think "well, I know I don't want to do multiple hours, but 20 mins a day wouldn't hurt!"

 

The baby's grandmother is coming for a week starting next week so ds and I will have some one on one time to do some stuff then.  (although again the baby will still be around so we'll have to find a *place* to do whatever it is we end up doing)

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#8 of 13 Old 11-06-2012, 12:49 PM
 
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Ah that makes sense. I'm in the UK and I'm not familiar with co ops. 

 

It really sounds like this phase is a very temporary one. In the next few months the baby will become more able to entertain herself and so will your son. He'll become more able to go off and do stuff alone that he finds interesting. He'll also become more able to take advantage of those times you can spend with him. I think things so often seem at their worst just before they get better, but really, things are almost certainly going to get better.

 

Can I gently ask. It sounds like he is doing loads, is socially mature, has skills on a par with his age group etc. Are you possibly feeling slightly guilty specifically because he is asking for academic stuff and that you feel you need to give him this? Would you feel as bad if he was asking to do a puzzle or use sharp scissors and you had to say no or limit the time because of the baby? If so, that's fine but I'd consider specifically factoring in some more academic stuff at weekends (fun stuff, whatever it is he's asking to do and you're not managing really). Regarding the baby and the small pieces as well, that does sound like a specific situation and I think that the suggestion of using larger manipulatives is a great one. Surely you could find 20 minutes at weekends? Could you go and sit in a coffee shop or something if there is an issue around not having space in the house? 

 

Oh and honestly, I've got 3 kids and when they were 5 I would NEVER have done hours of work! I strongly believe that at this age play is their work. I don't see any point at all in doing hours of work with a kid this age, really.


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#9 of 13 Old 11-06-2012, 06:24 PM
 
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20 minutes a day is sometimes asking a lot with my 5-year-old :) I also have a 2-1/2 year old, who still loves to get into dd's things!  It's not so much a safety issue anymore as it is that it is just too hard for her to concentrate when she is having to protect her space-and I like to be able to pay some attentino to her when she is doing this stuff instead of trying to distract ds all the time. 

 

She knows that nap time is prime time to do certain things and will actually say, let's save this for when ds is napping.  No that ds does not nap regularly anymore, it is even more challening.  We were not originally planning on unschooling this year, but are kind of moving that direction just due to the logistics.  I think it is totally fine to explain to your son that some things are better done when the baby isn't around, whether that is on weekends or during her nap or when your housemates have her out of the house. 

 

I don't have any space high enough that ds can't get to it, though at this point maybe you could have him stand on a chair by the kitchen counter to do something he doesn't want knocked around? Ds would have probably just climbed up the chair at that age, but maybe she won't?  Otherwise, I try to have a simlar activity set up for the little or distract him by nursing or a snack or whatever.  I also try to include him in the activity if possible to some degree-i.e. we use blocks to practice addition, so I will ask him to hand me the red one, etc. even if it is really not part of the lesson.  THis only works for a few minutes though, so we are getting good at getting straight to the point! 


Good luck, it sounds like a pretty cool setup you and your housemates have going on!  Oh, and if you find that pixie dust, let me know :)


Single mama namaste.gif to dd dust.gifand ds fencing.gif, loving my dsd always reading.gif .
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#10 of 13 Old 11-07-2012, 04:59 AM
 
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I personally think it is a good lesson for him to learn.  We have 6 children and they have learned that they don't always get to do what they want.  That is what the world is like.  They can't always have my attention because I have responsibilities.  I can't do a certain something with them because I am rocking their baby sister to sleep.  It teaches them valuable things.  So he doesn't resent her maybe you could be with her while he does things he wants to do.  This way you are showing him that you are respecting him and what he wants to do as well.  You can work together.  I know a few only children (don't get me wrong.  I am not saying all only children are like this!) and they are entitled.  They haven't been taught that they don't come first all the time.  I think that is a lesson that often comes with experience.  Just my thoughts on the situation. :)

You could set baby up in the highchair with a snack to give your son extra time.  You could set him up somewhere where baby can't go.  You could occupy baby so he can do his activity.  You could suggest other activities if it just won't work at that time.  Plus, you don't have baby after 5pm so you could set up some times after that and on weekends to do the activities he really likes.  There are many times that my children can't do something that they want because baby is sleeping, I don't want the mess at that time, they have another responsibility that needs to get done, another child is using it, etc.  I personally think it is good for them. :)

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#11 of 13 Old 11-07-2012, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Can I gently ask. It sounds like he is doing loads, is socially mature, has skills on a par with his age group etc. Are you possibly feeling slightly guilty specifically because he is asking for academic stuff and that you feel you need to give him this? Would you feel as bad if he was asking to do a puzzle or use sharp scissors and you had to say no or limit the time because of the baby? If so, that's fine but I'd consider specifically factoring in some more academic stuff at weekends (fun stuff, whatever it is he's asking to do and you're not managing really). Regarding the baby and the small pieces as well, that does sound like a specific situation and I think that the suggestion of using larger manipulatives is a great one. Surely you could find 20 minutes at weekends? Could you go and sit in a coffee shop or something if there is an issue around not having space in the house? 

 

 

Guilty.  Yes.  It is actually me that is having the issue not ds.  He's pretty much cool with whatever.  He likes playing with the baby and hanging out. He doesn't really care too much about not doing stuff as long as we are all doing something (which can be running around the living room, or making dinner or whatever).  

 

I think need to stop looking at blogs.  I feel guilty when I look at SouleMama and I see all her kids and they are all wearing homemade, adorable, fashionable clothes.  They are engaged in a variety of activities: crafts, farm work, cooking, more classic academic work.  She's got a baby in her arms and still knitting, writing a blog, and making delicious homemade dinners.  But really it is a blog, its not a live webcam.  I don't know what is going on during any given day.  I could make a blog where I show ds picking apples, and then making apple sauce, and making hand apple pies, and dried apple rings (we did all that).  I could make sure he is wearing a handmade outfit when I take the pictures.  The baby could be toddling around "helping" in several carefully composed photos.  And then maybe other people would be overwhelmed by how much *I* get done in a day.  

 

I just need to make sure you never see my bedroom (which hasn't been cleaned or even tidied in months), that you don't get a glimpse of the kitchen sink (and counter) overflowing with dishes, and that there is no sound of me being like "no, not like that.  Don't take your pants off!  You can't use the knife near the baby!!"

 

I think it is mostly that I feel guilty that we decided to homeschool, but for that to work I need to work and the work I am doing is nannying and therefore the nannying makes it hard to do anything that is blatantly homeschooling versus just living our lives.  But if I wasn't nannying I think we would be very much "just living our lives" style homeschoolers so it wouldn't actually change anything!

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#12 of 13 Old 11-07-2012, 09:29 AM
 
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I think need to stop looking at blogs.  

orngbiggrin.gif  Your post really hit in on the nail.

 

I'm considering starting a blog, to share our homeschooling and lives with our family and friends.  I have this idea in my head to focus on the stuff that is just so real, like dd2's, um... "volcano" origami project (whatever you say, dear!) and her homemade experiments, like the one yesterday where the hair came out of the soap bubbles (drumroll) DRY!

 

 Which is actually a pretty cool discovery, come to think of it.  I had this image of scientists from centuries gone by, funded by rich patrons or rich parents dunking a stray hair into soap bubbles and saying (or writing with goose feather and ink) "By Jove, the hair came out [drumroll, though he doesn't write that down] DRY!"

 

And, I'll write my contrary, academically blasphemous opinion that I really really don't think Marie Curie is all that great a roll model....  just sayin'.

 

And I will make a point to have the dish pile in the background, because if you are doing these fabulous projects with little kids, unless you somehow can convince all your kids to help you with them, the dishes don't get done.  If I invest time in one area, another suffers.  That's reality here.


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#13 of 13 Old 11-07-2012, 01:24 PM
 
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ha, the blogs, yes! And Soulemama's is an especially bad one for this. Can I just say one thing about that specific blog? She is really entirely open about the fact that she is doing this partly to provide an income for her family. She's financially benefitting from our desire to read about these particular, very narrow, aspects of her life. A good percentage of her blog is incredibly well placed advertising, mainly for the products of others. I've been reading her for years, actually, certainly since she had only two kids, and before she started doing any more than linking to her etsy shop, and her site and prose has changed SO much. She's selling something, and there is nothing wrong with that, but don't forget that that is what she's doing. Its not just another parenting blog really, its a marketing tool at the end of the day. I would not feel comfortable putting my family out there like that but hey, LOADS of people do or wish they could, she's just really good at it (and her pictures and prose ARE very good, I don't think her kudos is undeserved)

 

When my kids were small I happened to know someone who had this amazing mummy blog. She was a radical unschooling, raw food only, ECing, etc etc parent. Now I knew her before I knew she was writing the blog. I knew she had these beliefs and tried, as so many of us do, to practice them. She was just a normal parent, albeit one who was quite timid and finding her feet. She didn't seem like an amazing doing things all the time person at all, nor, tbh, an amazingly compassionate and tuned in parent. So I was a bit shocked to read her blog really, which was kind of an aspirational UK Soulemama. I was even more shocked to realise people were actually following her and inspired by her. The issue for me was that this clearly wasn't actually working for her. She was struggling, really struggling, despite far more family hands on support than I've ever had, because she was trying to live up to all these beliefs and ideologies-and then blogging as though she was on top of the world 24/7. 

 

I guess I realised that on the one hand, the reality was quite different to the blog. Not intentionally I am sure. The blog put forth the best of her. But only reading the blog I would have got a completely wrong notion of who she was, how she parented her kids (as opposed to how she thought she should parent them). Also, how sucessful this parenting actually was for her. The blog showed her sucesses. Anyway, since that experience I've always taken those euphoric blogs with a bit of a grain of salt. They serve a lot of functions and there is nothing wrong with them but unless you know the person writing, I do think, don't ever feel inadequate because of them.

 

(I kind of think doing hours of work with a 5 year old is crazily intense, unless they're really into it, but maybe that's not ok to say, sorry)

 

Oh ETA just had a thought. If I were you I'd take a look at the archives of GWS . They seem to move around a bit, last I saw they were at FUN books. The point is there are loads of people in the early days of homeschooling (ykwim, I know its not new...) back in the 70s doing exactly the kind of stuff you are, basically working with kids tagging along, to allow them to homeschool. Holt and others concur that its a really beneficial situation for kids to find themselves in. I think its amazing you're doing this!


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