Homeschooling with a Preschooler

Homeschooling with a Preschooler

Those that have homeschooled with a baby, who then becomes and toddler, who then becomes a preschooler have shared with me that they feel the hardest or challenging stage is: preschooler. Why is that? I believe it is because they are so close but not quite there. They want to be a part of the older kids but also haven’t developed the skills or stamina to get there yet. Your preschooler is excited and you the parent are working hard to encourage the excitement while not putting out the flame. It can be a delicate time to balance, all while educating your older kiddos.

So is there hope? What can we do as moms to support our preschooler WHILE educating our older kid(dos)? Here are some steps I have found were helpful for me while homeschooling with a preschooler.

FIRST STEP: PRAYER! Lets be honest for a second, (And prepare yourself I am the biggest at fault for this), when starting to feel the challenge of homeschooling with a preschooler how many of us quickly go to a friend, or a search engine to learn wisdom from other moms to help guide us? I hate to tell you but I am calling myself to the carpet on this one. I struggle to go to God first, to seek His wisdom above all other wisdom. So step number one: PRAYER. I have provided some verses below to help prepare your heart to embrace His eternal prospective as we approach how to teach and direct our preschooler while still teaching our older kiddos.

  • Psalm 121: 1-2
  • Proverbs 22:6
  • Isaiah 41:31
  • Proverbs 4:1-2
  • Proverbs 1:7-9
  • Deuteronomy 6:5-9
  • Deuteronomy 11:19
  • Psalm 1:1-5
  • James 1:5
  • Proverbs 2:6-11
  • Psalm 127:3-5

 

STEP 2: Prepare one step at a time. Have you ever heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Isn’t that so true! So my follow question is, “How do you train a preschooler? One step at a time.” Yes, the same way we would handle the huge task of eating an elephant is the same way we would handle the task of homeschooling with a preschooler and that is training our preschooler one step at a time.

Consider this time critical opportunity to start paving the way for your preschooler to become a well formed student in the coming years. Remembering that because you are putting in the hard work now in the following years you will be reaping what you sow. (Galatians 6:9). Here are some examples, lets say one thing that is important to your schooling is that the students will sit at a table while they do their writing, so start off your preschooler coloring at the table. Their stamina might be short but each time you practice at this setting, push them a little longer. Some ideas to lengthening time could include setting a timer for them, or putting a song on, “when the song is over then we will move to the next activity.” Picturing where you want your preschooler to be in the following years can help guide the steps to what they can be doing now in order to get them there.

STEP THREE: Lean into their desire to become a big kid.  This is a key moment for us as moms to lean into their desires of our preschoolers. Before I continue I want to say, I hear you, it is hard to help, train, and teach a preschooler when you have other homeschoolers who need you too! It is hard, I know! But, hold on to the hope that this is just a season, and press into it, knowing what we do now will help create our next season.

Find activities for them that are “school” projects. Within the educational activities remember to switch them up within 30 minute blocks, and express what they are learning while doing them, along with how proud you are of them. Attention during this time to the preschooler doesn’t have to be consuming but find ways to build them up as they view you building their older sibling(s) up too.

Here are 20 things your preschooler needs to know before kindergarten. This is to help guide you in allowing them to learn, discover, grow and be a “big” kid with some parent driven intentionality. (This is not a comprehensive list.)

  1. Encourage Curiosity
  2. Practice their name writing. And reciting their full name.
  3. Begin learning about letters.
  4. Working on a few site words. (Examples: she, said, my, have, here, been, was.)
  5. Start practicing numbers.
  6. Practice making decisions.
  7. Understand how books work.
  8. Work on self-sufficiency skills.
  9. Master eating with utensils.
  • Practice story telling skills. (beginning, middle, end).
  • Practice cooperation.
  • Verbalize wants and needs.
  • Recognize shapes and colors.
  • Practice Drawing with crayons or pencils.
  • Classify objects according to size, shape and quantity.
  • Identify rhyming words.
  • Repeat address, phone number, and birthday.
  • Focus on one activity independently or with a friend for 10 minutes.
  • Listen to a story without interrupting.
  • Bounce a ball and other large motor skills.

 

STEP FOUR: Let the older kids practice their teaching skills on your preschooler.  I believe we as families with multiple kids can benefit so much for approaching our work as a team. Life is better together. In fact, when we involve our older kid(dos) within the educating of the whole family not only does momma receive support, and the preschooler get taught some valuable lessons, BUT the older student(s) get to confirm what they have learned through teaching it to others.

They say the way to know mastery of a subject is to be able to teach it to someone else. In addition, by having your preschooler learn from an older sibling they are not only getting education content but also they are getting to practice learning from more people than just mom. (Which is a great skill to have).

STEP FIVE: Acquire supplies.  This step may seem like it needs to come first but in actuality when acquiring supplies I want to encourage you to be intentional with what you are gathering. We have this opportunity to not provide fluff, or just distracting things but moreover using this preschooling opportunity to build the skills needed for the following year. (see list above of what preschoolers should work on before kindergarten).

You also don’t have to spend a fortune. There are many free resources that can be printed, and many activities that can be put together from supplies you might have around the home already. The important part is to start thinking in a way that is preparing not just distracting your preschooler so that you can get the teaching done with the other kid(s).

TIPS AND TRICKS:

  • It can be easy for preschoolers to feel overwhelmed when they start, so instead of starting them on a whole page, consider cutting it or folding it in half. Other options would be highlighting what needs to be done first. I have also seen people take file folders and cut one side in half towards the middle, then they would open the flap for what half of the page needs to be done for the preschooler.
  • Create excitement, whether that is through words of cheer, a sticker when the page is done, or a reward of playing with a toy when finished. Teaching to work hard until the job is done can be a life long skill.
  • Be aware of the level of stamina of your preschooler and work to grow it consistently.
  • Give play breaks in between schoolwork, but also know play breaks can secretly continue the educational time. For example, you can give the preschooler a puzzle, which seems like a break but really helping spatial reasoning. Or, maybe they can to design a train track, and they think it is play but really it is engineering.
  • Remember not to push your preschooler to far to fast, slow and steady wins the race but pushing is like putting water on the educational flame. Fan the flame of the joy of learning.
  • Lastly, there might be some attention seeking moments from your preschooler during school especially if they feel like they are not apart of it, so use this as a reminder to include them. Include them either in learning skills, teachers’ helper, or simply sitting on your lap for some extra lovies.

 

Homeschooling with Toddlers

 

Homeschooling with Toddlers

Just hearing the words homeschooling and toddlers can send fear into any mother. In fact, I have had many moments of, “CAN I DO THIS?” when it comes to homeschooling my older kids with toddlers in the room. But why or where does the fear come from?

I believe unrealistic expectations or comparison traps are the root cause of these fears. As a mother who grew up in public school, went to college to become a classroom teacher, and then taught 5thgrade for 5 years before becoming a mom, I can tell you I struggle with both of these to the extreme.

Stop for a moment and think about what your “ideal” or “perfect” homeschooling time looks like. Is it quiet? Is it sitting at a desk? Is it hard-working distraction free kids? Is it full of sweetness, kindness, loving, smiling, cooperative, joy filled, light bulb moments, peaceful, patient, and self-controlled?

Sounds great right? But now think, is that real life? Is that picture you have formed the way you live life? Do you, as a grown adult, posses all the qualities above?  I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt: I do not! I probably will never have these qualities to the level of a perfect display of schooling.

But moms, can I just say, that what we are picturing is not real life, it is a false expectation of what we think we need in order to do school. So before we get into to way we can support our toddlers while we homeschool, we must take a look at where the root of our expectations come from, AND create a realistic expectations for our homeschooling environment.

For me and my household, we do have expectations for homeschooling. Our time together is not a free for all, and it does have expectation that we teach all of our kids in order that we all might have a successful school day.

Currently I have two elementary kids homeschooling, one preschooler, and two toddlers, so as I share some tips and tricks below that will help you gage your thoughts around what I am sharing. In addition, homeschooling is not a cookie cutter for each family, we don’t all operate the same, we don’t all have the same kids, so we wont all have the same expectations either, use this as a guide and support to your schooling.

Here is our school day, along with how we have best incorporated our toddlers:

We start the day with a good filling breakfast. WAIT A MINUTE, why are you talking about breakfast, I thought this was about schooling. Well, hear me out my friends. Our children, in order to meet out expectation, need to have their basic needs fulfilled if we want to have the best outcome. Furthermore, sleep is part of their needs, so if your kiddos (toddlers included) are lacking for sleep, nourishment, and emotional stability then having them meet your expectations of schooling is going to be an uphill battle. We must meet their needs first.

After breakfast, our family has been blessed and encouraged by a time we like to call, morning boxes. This time is a great way to start our schooling together, because we ALL get to do it TOGETHER. We gather around in the living room and I have created a box for each of the kids. Within the box there are quiet activities like: coloring, puzzles, thinking games etc., which they get to use while we do our read aloud during morning boxes. But, before they get to dig into their boxes, we stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, to the Christian Flag, and to the Bible. Followed by the memory passage we are working on (examples include: The Lords Prayer, Psalm 23, The Apostles Creed, or a poem.) After, as the kids are getting their treasures out of their boxes we listen to a hymn of the month and sing along. Once everyone is settled then I will read loud from our book of choice. In the past we have worked through: novels, historical accounts, picture books on a theme, holiday books, science lessons, they can be a lot of variety and flexibility. Some things to note is that this time will need to be taught before a rhythm can be developed. As the parent you will need to know and set yourself up success by training your kids what they get to do during this time and what voice level is appropriate for this time. For our family we also needed to teach on staying in once spot throughout the reading time. This expectation needs to be retaught if ever the kids are not following the guidelines. As mentioned above I have a 2 and 3 year old and they are able to sit during this time, but I know I will have to reteach, give reminders, and make sure their morning boxes have new things in them week after week to create a space of newness. It is such a blessing to start the day off together as a family, all ages get to participate, there becomes a common language that is then reenacted through creative play later from the books we read, and a sense of one room school house where there is not divide due to age or ability.

After our morning box time in the living room we head into what I like to refer to as our clipboard time. I have created clipboards with the grade level work that must be done for each kid.  As the three older kids grab their clipboards and get started, I grab one of my boxes for the toddlers that have educational activities in them. I have multiple boxes of separated activities so that the younger kids do not have access to all the toys at once, and potentially they would go a week without seeing these toys to make sure things are not too repetitive. Some of these activities include: stacking blocks, puzzles, tinker toys, car or train tracks, Legos, stickers, pretend food and more. The younger kids will need their activity switched every 20 minutes or so, (it could be shorter in the beginning as they are building stamina or longer time if they have grown in their stamina). I try my best to time my reading with each older kid with a new toy box to make sure it is fresh for the younger kids while I am teaching a concept like reading or new math concept. It is important to know that while I work to create a room that is quiet in volume, it is ok for their to be noise, and it is ok for the older kids to learn to deal with distractions. This is a life long skill that will carry with them.

After the clipboard time, I send the kids all for a play break, I have found sometimes you need to incorporate more breaks into the day and guess what: that is ok! Play breaks are just that a break to refresh so that they can come back and refocus. I encourage laying out the time frame of the play break before you send them off.

Once everyone has had a play break I will call once kiddos back one at a time to work with them on their one-on-one schooling need, which could include: reading, math, science, writing, social studies, you name it if they need support in that area I working through my direct instruction at that time. While this is happening I rely on my older kids to support the play with the younger ones while mom is working one-on-one with another kid. We are a family team and we all work together, there is much incentive as well because if the play is not going well then everyone will loose their play break and have to come sit in the room with mom doing a quiet activity while I go through my one-on-one time.

Then guess what!? I am done, that is all the formal schooling we do in a day. Learning happens all day, the older kids will have time of quiet reading while the youngers nap, but the bulk of our school we accomplish in the morning, before lunch!!

Last couple tips and tricks:

  • When in doubt use a snack, if the youngers are getting restless then bring out a snack to save the day.
  • Toddlers like to feel importance, especially as their older siblings are working, they want to do work too. So call their activity work, and create a sense of learning from what they are doing, make them feel an accomplishment.
  • Remember the expectations for this time will grow and change as your family grows and changes. Everything in a season will be just that: a season. So enjoy the seasons, and find creative and new ways to make the season work for your family not just for you.
  • If your toddlers (or kiddos) are getting bored with their toys, put some away from a month and bring them out again and SURPRISE they are excited to play with them again! Or ask a friend to switch toys for a month, even if it is similar to the activities you already have in place the fact that they are new to them is always exciting.
  • You don’t have to spend a lot of money on education activities. Real life is educational so grab some pots and pans and let them pretend to prepare a meal. Or create a toy bath tub and let them wash the toys, or use a big cardboard box and see what they can create out of it. Remember that some of the education activities for toddlers can include boxes, or coloring too.
  • Switch up the area in the room that they are sitting when you switch up the box every 20 minutes or so, it is fun for them to feel the next purposeful thing instead of remaining in one spot.
  • Lastly, remember each day is new. It will bring new challenges, meet those new challenges with a positive outlook, embracing a sense of seasons, and a joy to bring new mercies to a situation. Remembering ultimate how our father in heaven gives us new mercies every morning to.

 

To understand, acknowledge, and control their emotions; while learning to share their thoughts, feelings and emotions respectfully and well.

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Another of my reasons WHY I am choosing to homeschool:

To understand, acknowledge, and control their emotions; while learning to share their thoughts, feelings and emotions respectfully and well.

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Part of my reason or desire for homeschooling is to be my kiddos advocate. I want to train, teach and advocate for them to learn to control their emotions. Within the Bible we see the word advocate being equal to helper. As adults we must learn to advocate for ourselves, but how do we get there? We don’t just magically arrive; someone or something taught us how we respond to a situation.

If you have been a parent for more then a second I think you would wholeheartedly agree that our kiddos have emotions. Emotions is a word that when used can promote a negative connotation, for example, “That girl has lots of emotions.” But hear me when I say: EMOTIONS ARE NOT BAD. What IS bad or harmful are untrained emotions. Here is where homeschooling comes into play:

We experience and live out our emotions all day every day. Therefore, if I have a goal of training my children to understand, acknowledge and control their emotions being with them all day is the perfect place and time to address them. See, I want them to learn to share their thoughts, feelings and emotions respectfully and to self advocate for their needs in a space that is SAFE to learn!

The bottom line truth is someone is teaching your kiddos how to handle their emotions. My question would be what are they teaching them, how are they teaching them, and with what foundation or worldview are they teaching from?

This is a journey and not a task solved within a day, weekend, week or even year; this is an on-going development, which takes a commitment on the part of both parents. Because we are not raising children, we are raising future adults.

 

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To treat others well, seeking to serve, and put others before themselves.

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For our family when we made the decision to homeschool there was so many factors other then educational that influenced us. I wanted to share one of the many reasons, which led us to this decision: to treat others well, seeking to serve and put others before themselves.

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As believers and as a culture we are seeing that we are all sinful people in NEED of a Savior. I am not disillusioned to the sin within my children (or myself), and believe strongly that we are all on a journey, and with that journey it takes time and INTENTIONALITY! This isn’t a natural thing: we learn through ABIDING in CHRIST! With all that said, when I desire my children to learn to treat others well, seek to serve and put others before themselves I know that this is not something that comes without instruction.

To show by example, learn within scripture and through the abiding in Christ our prayer is that we can lead our children to put others first. Can this happen outside of homeschool: absolutely! However, our desire and mission is that as we spend more time as the primary instructor we get to prioritize the things that are being taught and modeled to our children.

We should all be taking the time and energy to teach these things but I find that it is the daily, seemingly mundane interaction that we get to help mold and guide our children to putting others first, treating others well, and ultimately showing Jesus’ love to those around them. Taking the opportunities as they come and directing in the moment.

 

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To grow in Godly character: to be honest, generous, helpful, loving and loyal. Learning and embracing the fruit of the Spirit.

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Goals we have for our Homeschooling:

To grow in Godly character: to be honest, generous, helpful, loving and loyal. Learning and embracing the fruit of the Spirit.

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One of the many reasons we decided to homeschool is to help mold, shape and form our children’s character. I remember a saying my children’s pastor used to say, “garbage in-garbage out.” What we fill our minds with becomes an outpouring of what comes out in our lives. This applies to everyone not just children, yet when we are young we are discovering and forming character.

It is amazing to me all the moments in the day my children need to be redirected, encouraged to righteousness, or taught a character quality within an activity or moment. Simple moments like playing a game, having one of my children win and one lose and both emotions and lessons to be learned that come out of that game. Or doing an art lesson where it is a struggle to bring out the thought in their head to the paper in front of them, and the character quality that is taught in the moment of trying new things. Or how about finishing what we start, learning to do hard things, thinking of others, helping a sibling, or learning truth and applying it, all these moments and lessons that happen throughout the day are meaningful to their development of Godly character.

We choose to homeschool so that while there are young and in our care WE get to be the ones to help form and mold those character qualities to reflect the character we see in Jesus. Ultimately, it is abiding in Christ that brings forth true fruit of the Spirit, however, we must take ever opportunity to teach and point towards those character traits remembering that our children are always learning from something and someone, so we must ask ourselves: if not I than who?

 

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To love His written word, and be able to understand and apply it to their lives.

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One of my reasons for homeschooling:

To love His written word, and be able to understand and apply it to their lives.

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I remember my Mother in Law talking about to me about how her approach to school was trying to light a fire instead of jus filling a bucket. Instead of just filling our children with information one of my hopes, dreams and purposes of homeschooling is to light a fire. Yes, to teach them the necessary elements to education but to always be connecting the learning to something greater.

As I am in the beginning stages of this journey with my kids one of my greatest joys thus far is watching my children with my help learn to read. Honestly, this is an intimidating task when you think about trying to teach someone to read. But it is a step-by-step process that takes time. It is possible! When it happens and you reflect that YOU taught your child to read, it is a moment of awe and appreciation of the gift of literacy. Because, the gift of reading is a gift that keeps on giving, we learn by reading.
God gave us the Bible, His written WORD! To teach, instruct, admonish, comfort, declare promises, provide wisdom, and so much more as a gift to us, it allows us to KNOW HIM MORE! The WORD OF GOD is a spark that lights a fire that brings us closer day by day to HIM!

Reading, studying His Word, and applying the scriptures is something that takes time, teaching and commitment. This practice of being in the presence of God through the gift of scriptures is a HUGE WHY we homeschool. Yes we do enjoy our family devotions and Family Bible time, which is carved out time, but MORE THAN THAT we are able through EVERY subject and inspired moments connect what we are learning back to TRUTH found in the WORD OF GOD!!! This is one of our WHYS of homeschooling.

 

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Ts come to Salvation and to place God as the King of their lives, to serve HIM in ALL they do.

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If I were to ask you what is the MOST important thing you want for your kid(s), what would you say? I think, culturally a popular answer is: that they would be happy. And yes, I do want my kids to be happy, HOWEVER, more than anything what I REALLY desire is that they would give their hearts and lives to following Jesus and receive the Hope and Grace that comes through Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you perhaps a trickier question: what is the most important thing you want your kids to learn academically? For me, I think that answer is still the same, it is that regardless of fractions, essay writing, knowing the periodical table, anything you name it, I still would say the most important thing for my kids is to come to salvation and to place God as the King of their lives, to serve HIM in ALL they do. And to do that FOR sure there will come studying, learning, growing etc., so academics are important but it is more of a subcategory, a road that leads to understanding and relationship with Christ.
Let me also say this, I value education and wisdom (applied knowledge). When I decided to name my homeschool WISDOM WAY, I wanted to make sure that we were had the understanding that YES knowledge and learning IS IMPORTANT but it is most valuable when it is APPLIED KNOWLEDGE which is WISDOM, that leads to the WAY, the truth and the life= JESUS CHRIST.

#wisdomway #wisdomwayhomeschool

Goals for my homeschooled children: to come to salvation and to place God as the King of their lives, to serve HIM in ALL they do.

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Can this be done if you are not homeschooling? OF COURSE! But for me and my family we feel like the hours away verses the hours I am with the kids provides more opportunity point towards The Way (Jesus) and apply Wisdom to knowing Him. They say that a persons worldview is developed by age 12, and if you think about it in this way typically your children our in your house, under your influence from ages 0-18. The average life span of a person is 80 years. 18/80 = 22% Soooooo you have your greatest influence for 22% of your child’s life, and to break it down even more: if their worldview is developed on average by age 12, 12/80 =15% of your child’s life span to pour into them. Now it must be said: GOD CAN and DOES save and redeem any age at any time, through any means! I am just explaining our families thought process. ALSO I pray and plan to have a spiritual influence over my children until I die and then even after. And if you would bear with me for one more static: when you child is in school for 6-8 hours a day out of a 14 hour awake time that means you are missing out on over half of the day with them. These are some of the factors and reasons that are our WHY to homeschooling.

 

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To grow in their knowledge and LOVE for the LORD!

 

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With everything we do in life we find our drive and purpose by discovering and owning to the WHY. When I was in the early stages of parenting and evaluating the reasons why we wanted to homeschool I discovered that there are MANY reasons! AND the crazy element that blew my mind was the majority of the reasons WHY I wanted to homeschool really had little to due with academics!

One of my many WHY’s is: to grow in their knowledge of and LOVE for the LORD! .
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

HEART – SOUL – MIND

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This is my great calling as a mother to help my children learn to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind; and for me and my household I feel that the hours to support this calling is benefited from more time at home. Thus I find this to be a huge reason for homeschooling so I can be WITH them! Proximity to see how to guide and mold, sitting side-by-side to point out sin and encourage repentance, and to be able to point out the beauty of Gods WORD, CREATION, and PROMISES!

To love is to know, to spend time with, learn about and relate to, to respect, to enjoy, and to prioritize.

 

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PODCAST – Episode #22 Getting Prepared for a Year of Homeschooling

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Listen in on todays Podcast as a GOOD friend of mine MARY RABE and I talk through our thoughts, hopes, and visions for homeschooling. We are in the beginning stages and excited to share what has been on our hearts!

Marissa Rice #22

LISTEN HERE:

 

 

Show Notes:

Mary’s new blog can be found HERE!

More information on Morning Jobs can be found HERE!

 

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