Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to Homeschool with a Little One in the House & How to Homeschool Multiple Ages

I bet you read that title and thought you could come over here and read this post and I'd have all the answers, didn't you?  Well, I tricked you!  I don't have all the answers; I only wish I did.  If I did, then my days would be a lot simpler!

What I'm going to share with you is a bit of my own experience - and a lesson or two I've learned along the way - in the hopes that maybe you can learn from my experience (and my mistakes)!

About 9 years ago, we had recently arrived home with a baby from Vietnam.  Ashley was about 1/2-way through her 2nd grade year (schooling at home).  The winter blues set in.  Of course, I was thrilled to have Gracie home with us - she was the baby I had prayed and longed for.  But, I started having my doubts as to whether I was doing justice to Ashley.  I was sure that I was capable of meeting her needs academically; however, I was not convinced that it was fair of me  to keep her here at home.  She was such a social child; and I started to begin feeling like Gracie and I weren't enough to meet her personal needs.

So, I enrolled her in the local public school.  Then, I sat down and cried for a solid week.

2 1/2 years later, Gracie was ready to start homeschooling.  Brian and I discussed it and felt that maybe it was time to bring Ashley home again as well.  I was amazed at how much easier and smoother our days went once we were homeschooling both girls.  Suddenly, it made sense to me how large families were such successful homeschoolers.  It was actually easier with 2!  (more about that later)

Anyway, with that first experience, I never had both a school-aged child and a toddler in the house at the same time.  Fast forward several years to 2006 ---

Baby #3 arrived from Vietnam in the middle of another school year.  By this time, I had learned my lesson - public school was not an option.  We were going to have to make this work, no matter what.

The girls and I quickly learned to adjust.  Gracie has always been a very independent learner; and Ashley was, at that point, becoming a little less attached to my help.  So, they were able to do their on-their-own work   However, we quickly discovered that anything that required my help would need to be done during Ian's naps.  It didn't take long to figure that out, considering that Ian was (and still is) a very noisy boy!

3 years later and we're still working around Ian!  Nowadays, though, he hears "honey, please be quiet" quite often!

Thanks to my position as Captain of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I've received some great preschool resources from companies such as The Critical Thinking Co. and Math Tutor DVD.  Ian enjoys sitting up to the table with the girls and "doing school", but he tends to be highly demanding.  It's very difficult to work on his school simultaneously with the girls' school.  So, as you can see, we're still learning.  Each day brings a new experience and something new to learn and adjust to.

I think that the secret to homeschooling with a baby or toddler in the house is to remain FLEXIBLE.  I've had to learn to really let go of schedules and be more of a "fly by the seat of my pants" type person (not an easy lesson to learn, to be sure).  If you're flexible, though, you're not going to get so flustered when something doesn't go quite like you planned it.  And, you'll be surprised at the rewards you'll receive.

Now, on to Homeschooling Multiple Ages ---

I touched on this a bit above when I said how much easier it was to homeschool more than one child.  My girls are far apart in age (currently 9 and 16) and we've still found that there are subjects that we can learn together.  Currently, we really only do history together, but we love it.  Each girl has different enrichment activities to do, but we read the same textbook.  For the rest of the subjects, we've just developed a system that while I'm working with Ashley on math or science, Gracie does her math independently.  While I'm working with Gracie on language arts or science, Ashley does her language arts independently.  They both have different strengths and weaknesses, so they need my help in different subject areas.  We've got this year down to a science.

Each year brings its own set of challenges, but each year also gets simpler.  I'm not sure what the dynamic will be when Ian starts kindergarten. I'm sure that it will prove interesting!

What are your thoughts on these subjects?  If you'd like to learn more from the Homeschool Crew on these topics, please be sure to stop by the Crew's blog each Tuesday, when we post our Blog Cruise Carnival!  Next week, we'll be talking about co-ops and our thoughts on them.  Until then, smooth sailing!


~Shelley~ said...

Hi there! Visiting from "Friday Follow"! I'm your newest follower! Love for you to come visit me!

Have a great weekend :)

mother plus teacher said...

Being a fly by th epants type of person is definitely the way to go when home schooling multiple ages and/or having noisy toddlers around. Great advice, I've learned to just go with the flow, nothing is set in stone anymore.

mom2ahrj said...

thanks for visiting my blog through follow friday!
i love this post - i have three schoolage daughters and one young son - i admire those families that can keep the littlest one occupied with toys or puzzles but we never could - we also had to work out a schedule where my girls worked independently until naptime - also, we put my son in preschool for 3 mornings a week!

Lori Boling said...

Great post, Heidi. Love reading all of your ideas.

Lori @ Loving Learning at Home

Chris G said...

Heidi, sounds like my house! I have two older girls and my little guy will turn 4 in a few days- lately he has bringing his "noisiest" toys into the room when we're doing our together studies, LOL. (He's also quite noisy without the toys!!) Quite a different experience these little boys are, huh? (But such a blessing at the same time!!):) Love reading what's goin on at your house.

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