So you are the mom of an infant, toddler, and/or preschooler.
(Let me stop right now to give you a cyber hug!!!)
I did not realize until my kids were grown beyond these stages and I was hanging out with my sister’s kids (which are 8 months, 2 years and 4 years) just how very physically and emotionally exhausting this stage of parenting is! I think when you are in the thick of it, and have no previous experience to compare it to, you just take it day to day and do your best to get through the day. But now that our kids are older and quite self-sufficient, I am reminded of what a sleep-deprived, survival-mode time of life that stage really is.
That being said, homeschooling with such small children is a CHALLENGE. But it is also a HUGE privilege. There are few things more satisfying, in my experience, than teaching kids to read and write. What a feeling to hold your child on your lap and hear them sound out letters and put together their first words. What a delight to study butterflies with your 5 year old, observing all of their body parts with a magnifying glass and watching the caterpillars you purchased through the mail form a chrysalis, and emerge days later as a beautiful butterfly. The joy that comes with reading scripture with your child and hearing them ask questions about God’s Word and ponder who Jesus is that He would leave heaven, take on the form of a man, live a perfect life, die and rise again so that we could walk in relationship with the Heavenly Father forever- priceless!! So yes, homeschooling with little ones is hard, but OH SO WORTH IT!
In my opinion, success in homeschooling small children means having fun and making learning exciting. If you can succeed at that, then your kids will look forward to school and learning.
Having right expectations- both of yourself and of them- is really important. School should be something that you all look forward to- not dread. For example, if mom is a slave driver with her five year old, and succumbs to a frustrated tone with her kids when they don’t understand a concept right away, the child is not going to want to do school (I say this from a place of personal experience, unfortunately, and still struggle at times).
One of the great blessings of starting homeschool at 4, 5 or 6 years old, is that you can ‘grow into” homeschool. Some different ways that can look are:
- Starting with just a small amount of time- 30 minutes to an hour (maybe even less time if your child is not accustomed to sitting still for that long). Add 5 minutes every other day until you’ve reached an ideal time frame to work with your child.
- Focusing your energies on the main subjects: reading, writing, and arithmetic. You have plenty of time to add in extra subjects as you create a comfortable routine.
- Using hands on crafts, manipulative and activities to teach that are exciting and fun. Personally, I am not the creative type to make up games and activities on the fly. But that’s the beauty of websites like Pinterest where you can search a topic (phonics games, for example) and get tons of creative ideas from teachers and moms alike.
- Adapting your school day around the needs of other kids- whether baby’s naps and feeding times or your teenager’s basketball schedule
- Having your older kids help occupy little ones (by playing with them, reading a story, taking care of their needs, etc.) while you sit one on one with your youngest students.
- Having older siblings “teach” younger siblings while you briefly tend to your little people. Teaching younger siblings often helps older sibling to solidify concepts in their own minds.
So how about you, Moms and Dads? What wrong expectations have you caught yourself in? How did you adapt? What tips do you have for other parents who are homeschooling with infants, toddlers and preschoolers? PLEASE, leave your encouraging comments below and be a blessing to other Doing Life Deliberately readers!
Keep Doing Life Deliberately, friends!!