How do I homeschool while having 4 young kids at home?
God's grace. Prayer. Lots of tears and frustration. And then we just keep laughing and rolling with it. Please hear me - NO PERFECTION HERE.
So yes, I have 4 little kids under the age of 7. Kairi is my 6 1/2 year old daughter who is in first grade. Brayce is 4 1/2 and does pre-k work. Then my boys, Zeke and Parker, are 18 months old and 8 weeks old.
So many people ask me, "HOW DO YOU DO IT?!" I am not an expert and I am far from perfect and honestly perfection is not my goal. I seriously have to give myself grace daily. There are plenty of days we miss because we have a movie day instead. I am working on my consistency because I know that being consistent is better for all of us and will help my girls learn.
I just wanted to share with you today a few ways that I have found help me with homeschooling with little ones.
I use a box curriculum called My Father's World that has everything planned out for me and even tells me what to say to teach my girls! Why reinvent the wheel?! This is my second year homeschooling and I love using a boxed curriculum. You can still modify it if you want, adding in, taking away, and changing whatever doesn't fit your child. That is one of the huge pros of homeschooling. You get to personalize the learning to your child! Don't fear that using a box curriculum will keep you "inside the box" like I did when I first started. I thought I would come up with my own curriculum and it wasn't a couple weeks into it that I realized I had no idea what I was doing! If you think that you would like to homeschool but you wouldn't do a good job or be able to, listen up - You can do this! There are tools out there for us to use. No one knows your child like you do!
This next one is KEY to our learning and my sanity - NAP TIME. The girls and I do school during the boys' nap times. Our school day is about an hour and a half to two hours right now. So this is usually the perfect amount of time to have some focused time while the boys sleep. Today we did school in the morning while the boys were awake! Oh my! Everyone was more distracted and I could see Kairi getting frustrated more easily. It was noisy and hard to hear what was going on. I was holding a crying baby. And Brayce was having trouble finishing her work before playing with Zeke. Nap Time. Nap Time. Unfortunately that means I've had to give up my quiet time when all 4 kids sleep at the same time, but I know that is important for the girls' learning.
However, I'm still trying to figure out how to get the boys to sleep at the same time. I am working on implementing a daily schedule for the 5 of us to follow during the days. I've never put my kids on a schedule, but as our family grows I am seeing the importance of one. If we don't follow the schedule then the day passes without getting anything done that we wanted to. (Hence, a movie marathon day - or many episodes of Pokemon per request from the girls.) I'm looking at our normal routine and flow of the day and trying to nail it down to a flexible schedule. Jonathan and I discussed what were priorities for our family and then I put them into time slots through out the day. I'm finding that the schedule is going to really help with the consistency of the number of days we get school done and also I find that my kids function better knowing what to expect next.
I also wanted to share one or two of the (million) things I am working on to improve for our homeschool days.
Something I want to add to our homeschooling with littles is to have more hands on age appropriate learning things for the kids. Learning doesn't begin when they go to school. Learning happens all the time, or at least it can. Learning happens when they are only one year old. Zeke loves to figure out how things work. He likes to twist and turn things. He doesn't have to be sitting down with a worksheet to learn. I want to make sure I have things he can take a part and try to put back together.
I want to do a better job about looking at the things in our day as learning opportunities. Homeschooling is not just when we sit down and do workbooks. Homeschooling is letting the kids cook with me and teaching them what we are eating, how to cook, measuring, etc etc etc. Homeschooling for us is hands on learning. At least that's what I want. I tend to get lazy and just shoo them out of the kitchen. It's easier to do things by myself then let my kids get involved. And that's something I want to change. Taking the extra few minutes to let them help or teach them how to do something even if it's not exactly the way I would do it.
Which leads into my major struggle: MESSES. I don't like messes. I like things to be clean and organized. I like for my house to be put together and having kids home all day creates a mess, a lot of messes. Homeschooling children creates a mess. And well, kids are just mess makers. I'm working on it, really I am. Teaching and letting our kids be independent is a struggle for me because I am having to accept there will be a mess to clean up. A silly example is not putting lids on their cups. Brayce gets busy dancing and singing during meal times and knocks over her cup all the time. But I can't have my kids drinking out of sippy cups forever. It's a learning moment, for the both of us. My kids love science experiments and making crafts - hello! big mess! But I have to start including these into our days despite the mess. Because what I am learning are messes are fun!
AND LEARNING SHOULD BE FUN!
And so what we do is just keep doing it! Not giving up because I know our WHY is bigger than our HOW.