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Homeschooling a preschooler

Do something with your preschooler or toddler first.

Chances are they are getting up before everyone else in the house anyway. This helps because your older children can finish their chores, morning lists, and for our family journal, exercise, or pray. This is a great time to teach your older children advocacy for their morning routine and take advantage of the usually best mood time of the day for toddlers (unless they are teething) which is the morning. I have found that a 15 min timer for fingerplays, then a 15 min timer for books goes very well with my almost 2-year-old. I will theme the fingerplays and books together- YouTube, my local libraries, and Pinterest are invaluable resources for this..

Keep longer lessons saved for naptime.

When you are homeschooling multiple age groups, it is so easy to get overwhelmed by some of the crafting and engineering lessons that take a long time. You can keep these lessons more manageable by scheduling them for when baby is taking a nap, in a room that you know will not disturb the baby. Our family is living close enough to each other that if we do lessons at the kitchen table, it will wake up baby who is sleeping in a room below. To adapt, we do our lessons in the living room and set up a space in there where we can. This way its easy to move to and when I tell my older son we are doing a craft for his younger siblings nap then he knows where to meet me.

Keep all other lessons short.

This will help your sanity so much. If you are struggling with math that day find a way to explain it with nature or other manipulatives, you can bring your toddler into to demonstrate the concept in ways that may be new to everyone but are ultimately less frustrating for everyone also. As a first-generation homeschooler, I often get caught up in the trap that learning only happens on worksheets in a provable way that the child learned. That is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to organic learning amongst adults or children.

Include your preschooler or toddler in the lesson however you can.

Baking for math with your older children? Pre-measure ingredients for the toddler to add to the mixing bowl. Science that can be fun? Get a small pair of goggles so they can participate and maybe even add the baking soda to the vinegar. You can think of things you know will 'coat hook' onto other lessons in your household but homeschool offers so many opportunities to learn that we all have a different experience. 'Coat hooking' is when you know you have a science lesson planned for the next day, you also know your toddler will need to be entertained when you do the science lesson with your older kids. The night before, you plan for and prep having toddler activities with that science lesson and BAM 2 activities in 1. However, do this at your own discernment and needs. No one homeschool looks like another and that is the point of it all! To cater the learning experience to the child rather than mold the child to our definition of learning.

Create special 'school crates' or 'school bags'.

Our family makes school bags. Take an old grocery bag and set crayons and a coloring book, or pencils, blank sheets of paper, and tape, or newspaper, tape, and aluminum foil sheets, I use finger mandalas and magnets, all kinds of things but they don't need to be fancy! You get the idea. You can keep school materials with school materials, and invite your toddler to play! These are great to have on hand when I have exhausted all other options here or when my toddler is teething, feeling fussy, or otherwise having a hard time but the day needs to move on.

Key takeaway here, homeschooling a child or multiple children of any age with a toddler is not only possible-its been done before successfully. You only need to log onto any social media platform and search '#homeschool" to see that. The bad days, locking yourself in the bathroom to take a deep breath in for 3 minutes all the way to the good days, when you have experiences that fill you up seeing the joy your children bring to your life, homeschooling with multiple ages is doable and you CAN homeschool multiple ages.

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