Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Solution

While I can't claim to have solved my homeschooling problem until I have successfully implemented this plan, I have been talking with other, more experienced homeschooling mothers (wise oldest sister) and researching this topic online and I think I see now what it is that I need to do.

Suzanne's Top Ten Suggested Solutions for Handling Homeschooling While There's a Toddler in the House (Or Two)

  1. The Containment Solution: Enclose small children in a playpen, playroom, or an outside deck where they can be seen easily enough. Give them balls or favorite toys that are only used during school time.
  2. The Great Outdoors Solution: Weather permitting, take it outside. Small children are usually happier outdoors. While they swing or play in the sandbox, you can work with older children at a pic-nic table.
  3. TV/Books-on-Tape Solution: While we don't want to just "plug" our little ones in and forget about them, we shouldn't feel guilty about buying time in this way, especially if we choose wholesome entertainment.
  4. Make the Most of Nap Times: Need I say more?
  5. Whole-Family Education: As much as possible, plan activities in which the whole family can participate, each at their own level. Take a nature walk, tour a museum, or go to the zoo. At home indoors, read lower age level books so all can follow along. One of our favorite "whole-family" books is an illustrated dictionary. The younger children like the illustrations, the preschoolers build vocabulary, and the older children learn second or third meanings of words they already knew.
  6. Change Your Perspective: Look at the whole day, or maybe even the whole week as an opportunity to get work done. Do not limit yourself to the first few hours of the morning Monday through Friday. While those hours are generally the best for concentration, they may not work for you and your family every day. Also, rethink where learning is done. Use driving time and times when you are folding laundry or preparing food to work one-on-one with a child. (Tip: Clipboards are very useful for making worksheets portable.)
  7. Use Smaller Blocks of Time: I suppose this is a corollary to the last one. The logic is simple, buying 10-45 minutes from a toddler is easier than buying 3 hours.
  8. Rotate Subjects in the Best Time Slot: Determine the time slot in which you get the most done. Is it first thing in the morning, nap time, or in the evening when Dad is home? Rotate the subject studied in that time slot to gain a more uniform benefit.
  9. Get Some Help:If you don't have older children to help out with the little ones, consider getting some extra help. A mother's helper or a grandmother could make life a little easier.
  10. Make A Plan: No one of these solutions will serve you all day, every day. Variety is key to keeping the little ones happy and you on track to providing all the children with a well rounded education. Take some time each week to lay out a reasonable plan of action. For example, solution one may work well on Mondays and solution three on Tuesdays...etc.
Lastly, I need to remember that this is a relatively short season in my family life. My two little ones will, in fact, grow and grow rather quickly.

What is a problem today will not be tomorrow. If you have a smaller family, the little ones will be doing the work of the big kids in no time. If you are blessed with many children, the older ones will soon be able to help you with the babies. Do not worry, tomorrow will have its own set of problems.

For everything there is a season, enjoy this one. I, for one, plan to make the most of it.

Wish me well.


helene said...

This is one for me to print out and keep on my fridge!

Suzanne Temple said...

I'm just realizing that I forgot one. The "If you can't beat them, let them join in solution." The idea is to keep a pencil box with crayons, rulers, erasers, and other interesting school supplies for the toddler to use at the work table. I forgot this one, because it just doesn't work for me. Before I know it, they are on the table.

helene said...

That doesn't work for me, either. The tools are taken away and used to draw on walls.

Michelle said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've got this problem too. My 4th is a girl, so it is a teeny bit easier (meaning she likes to sit and color for a few minutes at a time...oh, and she loves scissors which I'll let her use in carefully supervised situations). At 3, she's not as bad as last year, but baby brother is nearly 15 months and beginning to pick up the slack. I think I'll lose my mind by January.

Bridget said...

I told my husband last year, after our 7th child was born,"We are either procreating or educating. Pick one." Last year I think my toddler ate crackers the entire school year, and my baby was forced to get a propped bottle her first 7 months of life!! UUGGHH!!

Leonie said...

Changing my perspective and whole family education have been part of m y solutions. Love all your ideas!

Shawna said...

This post is one to hold on to. SUCH great strategies. And very realistic. I use the "containment" solution regularly. And I really appreciate the "permission" to use TV sparingly...without guilt. By the way, its April now, and I notice this was posted in has the year gone?

Jane Ramsey said...

Great ideas, Suzanne. Thank you!

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