When you have more than one child you are homeschooling and they are all little, it feels like everyone needs you all the time. How do you homeschool with a lot of little kids?
Most homeschooling families have a wide age range of children they are schooling, so not only are they finding themselves bouncing between subjects and grades, they often have babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to account for as well. Diapers need to be changed. Toddlers need to be pulled off of counter tops. And someone still needs to teach the 5 year old to read!
It seems everyone needs mama all the time!
One Raising Arrows reader described it like this…
“Today when we sat down to do [my son’s] 15 minute read aloud, I had
to wipe a bottom, take the 16 month old climber off of the table, wipe up a
spill from said baby on the table before everyone was soaking wet and
slipping, and intervene when my 2 year old started throwing pots and
pans at the window. And that’s just one subject for one child!”
Honestly, we all have days like this, and sometimes they simply cannot be avoided. But, if every day is like this, we have a problem because nothing ever gets accomplished but putting out fires.
We have to find a new system, a new way of doing things that actually works.
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Home Management for the Homeschool Mom!
How to Homeschool with Multiple Ages
The following ideas work for a variety of ages and stages. You may not have big kids yet, but you can still glean possibilities from those sections!
One quick and easy, yet still educational, way to occupy some of your kids while you work with others is to use Reading Eggs!
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Independent Older Children
My older two kids (who are still in our home) work almost entirely independently (ages 14 and 15). Every now and then, my 15 year old will need math help, but for the most part, they are in charge of managing their time and workload. This has been their norm since they were both about 13.
My next two oldest kids are 11 and 9. They have several subjects they can do independently as well. They work on those while I work with the younger crew first thing in the morning.
Even my 5 and 7 year olds have work they can do on their own. I start them young and train them toward this kind of independence. It takes a load off of me and helps them to be self-starters and responsible.
OR LISTEN >> How Your Kids Can Homeschool Themselves
When my oldest was 18 and only had two subjects to finish up before starting college in the Fall, I started having Morning Meetings with him.
He was more than willing to help out with the schooling and taking care of crazy toddlers, but I also wanted to respect his personal schedule. So, every morning, we would go over what we both hoped to accomplish during the day, what we both needed help with, and then come to a logical plan for the day.
But, the Morning Meeting isn’t just for 18 year olds!
For instance, you could meet with everyone and line out the day, including who is in charge of what chores, who is the kitchen helper, who is the baby helper, etc. It gives a starting point to your day, and is especially helpful when your life seems to be a bit messy.
NOTE: Why not put your daily schedule on a dry erase board during your Morning Meeting?! Read about my dry erase board schedule, and check out these options from Amazon:
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Teaching Older Kids to Help Younger Siblings (without being bossy)
Keep Everyone in One Place
When everyone needs you, it’s best to keep everyone in the same vicinity so you aren’t running all over the house! My younger crowd sits at the dining room table so I can stand and move from child to child, helping them with math, phonics, handwriting, etc. The only time I change this is when I have a child who needs to read aloud, then we move to the couch.
When I have a baby, I keep them in a high chair as long as possible, so they are near the dining room table. I also give the toddler busy work at the table to keep them occupied for a little while.
Here’s a high chair similar to what we have:
I really like how this seat accommodates infants through toddlers. I can have baby at the table with us from a very early age!
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a nanny living with you?! However, that’s not often feasible for the average homeschool mom, but guess what…the average homeschool mom still needs HELP!
So, if you can’t purchase a nanny, how about purchasing a “helper” of a different sort!
Like my toddler play-yard!
The play-yard in the photo is this one:
The reviews suggested you would need the extra panels, so I bought those too, but ended up returning them because this play-yard really was enough for one or two kiddos.
Sometimes baby loves it in there, and sometimes not so much. I don’t leave her in there fussing because a crying baby is not calming in any way, shape, or form. If she doesn’t want to be in there and I still need to keep her contained, I will put her in the high chair (see above) or put her in a sling.
You may need to have a season of letting the little ones watch a video in another room, take a walk or play outside with a sibling, have play time in a playpen, or give them special toys for school time (see our Toddler Box for ideas!)
My kids love to “play” on Reading Eggs!
There are learning games for even your littlest kids.
GET A FREE TRIAL NOW!
READ >> How I Occupy My Busy Preschooler
And it is ok to enlist the help of your older children. You are not treating them like slave labor. You are a family, and families help each other out. Don’t take each other for granted, and play as hard as you work, but don’t let guilt make you feel like a rotten parent for asking your family to help out.
Maybe Your School Time is the Wrong Time
It might not feel like there is enough of you to go around because there isn’t!
Take a step back from homeschooling for a day or two and assess what your day really looks like. When are you most often needed to change diapers and wipe bottoms? When are the little ones the craziest?
Believe it or not, there is an actual rhythm to your life, and if you wait until those things happen before starting something intensive like a read-aloud, everyone will feel more relaxed.
Give some time to your little ones first, if that’s what they need. Wait until nap time if that’s what you need. You do not have to do school at 8 o’clock sharp in order to do it “right.”
To learn how to make the perfect schedule for your homeschool
TAKE MY CLASS!
Creating a Homeschool Schedule You Love!
It’s Okay to Not Be Everything to Everyone All the Time
I am forever telling my children they must not interrupt. They must wait their turn. They must work quietly until I can get to them. They must realize Mommy is not a robot (which always invokes giggles as they imagine what I would look like as a robot). They must not repeat themselves 400 times before I can actually get a response out. They must learn they are not always number 1.
It’s called DEFERENCE, and it’s something sorely lacking in our culture.
Responsible adults learn to defer to others on occasion. They learn when to speak, and when to be silent, they learn to be generous and gracious. And it starts in the home when Mommy says, “Put your hand on my arm and I will acknowledge you when I’m finished explaining something to Suzy.”
It takes a lot of time and patience, but eventually, you will see your children become understanding of your human limitations and their need to be patient.
So, there you have it – some of my favorite tips for homeschooling when it seems like everyone needs you every single second of the day. It really can be done, but you have to think outside the box and be willing to let go of some of the things you *think* you know about homeschooling with lots of littles.
I’d encourage you to listen to my podcast:
How to be a Relaxed Homeschool Mom
It will help you with those unrealistic expectations that plague many a homeschool mom!