SummaryAmanda Evinger, homeschooling Mom and author, draws on her experiences to offer advice if you are blessed with homeschooling several little ones at once.
This May, we will welcome a newborn baby boy into our family. We are ecstatic!
As I prepare my home and my home school for the coming of little Marshall Thomas, I wanted to take some time to reflect on ways to homeschool multiple young children, all at once! I will have a second grader (Mariam), a kindergartener (Matthias), a preschooler (Marella) and my precious newborn.
As the saying goes, God cannot be done in generosity! After some prayer and brainstorming (plus consulting Mariam, my official homeschooling assistant, as well as homeschooling books on hand) here are a few tips on homeschooling multiple children simultaneously that I suggest:
1. Rely on prayer more than ever, but understand it may not be the prayer you expect.
Those of us with young children understand that praying with them can be endearing, uplifting, and well, rather adventurous (to put it positively). But the important thing is that we pray, and pray from the heart.
Even though we may be the busiest we have ever been with little ones tugging on our legs, that is the reason we must set aside enough time for family and individual prayer. homeschooling parents especially need extraordinary graces from God to persevere on the narrow road, and not leave their resolutions behind in the dust.
2. Using some enriching learning texts and activities that cater to kids of multiple ages can be a life-saver.
The first thing that comes to my mind, naturally, is reading books to your children that will interest both boys and girls of various ages. Sometimes, I even read to my older daughter something she is dying to hear, while she shows a touchy-feely toddler type of book to my youngest girl.
The benefits of investing a very generous amount of time reading with one’s children cannot be understated. I’ve also been amazed at how well younger children take to books geared for older minds — especially literature.
A homeschooling friend of mine with six young children, including a set of twins, once told me they have family read aloud time every single day, and when they do, they read “up,” meaning they read books geared more towards older children. They have noticed great success with this method.
I find if you read with expression and excitement, your younger children will see their older siblings’ eyes widen, and they will get a little more interested than you expected!
Science activities (like making an exploding volcano, cracking open a geode or doing some experiments in Seton’s Kindergarten Science text) and craft projects can provide a wonderful way for children of all ages to enjoy doing something together, simultaneously. Older children may enjoy helping bring out the creative flair in their younger brothers and sisters as well.
3. Bring music into your home.
Good music has a way of bringing exuberant joy into the life of a family, and into the hearts of people of all ages. Collecting a stash of instruments, everything from simple recorders and harmonicas, to a classy used saxophone, will bring out hidden musical talent.
Playing songs from the Joy of Children’s Favorites by Denes Agay or songs in accordance with the liturgical seasons can brighten the day for both younger and older children.
And putting on a CD with songs for the youngest children while you work with your older children can be a great help as well.
Some of our favorites are: Songs of Praise by Danny Schneible, Sing a Story: Old MacDonald Had a Farm and Five Little Monkeys, various children’s music CD’s produced by Holy Heroes, Brahms for Children (a sweet collection of classical music by Brahms, geared towards young ears).
Take advantage of the blessing of music when you need it the most!
4. Go with the flow, while making use of snippets of time throughout the day and keeping a basic schedule.
As homeschooling parents with little ones have learned, the school day may not be as ultra-organized and packaged as you would prefer. The dirty diaper has a real knack of arriving right when your daughter’s math lesson finally makes sense, and so on.
By at least trying (noticed I mentioned trying, not pulling your hair out doing so) to keep a basic schedule and seizing those 10-minute intervals of peace and using them for an English lesson that did not get finished or extra reading practice, you can stay afloat!
5. Use nap time and quiet time for school work, but don’t over-do it.
A mother with 13 children, all under 16, once told me, “Nap time is mother’s rest time!” I think she knows what she is talking about! Nap time can be a perfect time to work on a challenging subject with an older child or to do some lesson planning. However, especially if you are missing sleep at night to care for babies or sick children, you won’t want to use all of it up with work.
I’ve done that before, and I paid the price! Striking a balance is helpful. Furthermore, my personal advice is for Mom or Dad to take their “break” for prayer, rest, exercise or a hobby as soon as the little ones go down, otherwise, it just doesn’t seem to happen (sometimes, they come toddling down the stairs with a goofy grin, a little earlier than expected).
6. Consider keeping your baby in a sling.
When I had just one child, a sling didn’t seem necessary, but now that I have several young ones, I simply don’t know what I’d do without it. I put the baby in there, happy as can be, and get all kinds of things done.
I’ve tried many baby slings, but in my opinion, the Moby Wrap is the most comfortable for Mom and baby, and can be worn for longer than other popular wraps out there. Studies show that babies regularly carried in a sling cry less, learn more, develop vocabulary skills much more rapidly, feel more secure, and more. For further information, see babywearing.
Last but not least, we can all trust Our Lord, who gave us the beautiful children we have, to help us fulfill each one of our children’s learning needs.
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!