"Do not yield to discouragement in the face of difficulties and do not abandon yourselves to false solutions which often seem the easiest way to overcome problems. Do not be afraid to make a commitment, to face hard work and sacrifice, to choose the paths that demand fidelity and constancy, humility and dedication. Be confident in your youth and its profound desires for happiness, truth, beauty and genuine love! Live fully this time in your life so rich and so full of enthusiasm."
"Let us look with greater hope to the future; let us encourage one another on our journey."
~ Papa Benedict XVI

Thursday, January 13

What do you do with the little ones when the older ones are doing school?

This is a question i have gotten a lot over the years.  Now, after homeschooling for almost 12 years, i can honestly say i finally figured it out! : ) 

Early on the little ones would ask for their own school.  We tried left over workbooks, coloring books, paper and stickers ...the list goes on and on.  But what i have found with all those things is that they are done quickly and/or they need or want your help with them constantly.  Now, there is plenty of time for each child, but if you are teaching one to read, preparing one for a sacrament, and trying to figure out why another is not doing well in one of their subjects, sitting down for 2 hours with the toddler/preschooler is  not a doable option.  So you want to know the answer?

One word - Montessori...

Ok, before you start shaking your head, and telling me its too much work, too much stuff, blah, blah, blah, let me explain.  Really, Montessori at home is the absolute ideal solution to this question.  Your toddlers and preschoolers deserve just as much prep time from you as the others do (all relevant to age and grade of course.)  And many things can be done very simply and inexpensively....The most important thing here though is that they LOVE doing the work, they can do things on their own after you present it to them, and they will do the activities for a good long while.

The other night i finished making color cards for Cat.  She was still up with us so we did them for about 15 minutes before i told her we needed to stop.  It was just matching colors.  Nothing elaborate. 
I did find that she has a hard time separating and setting out the 1st set of card so I am going to make a single sheet that she just puts out and then matches the individual cards to.

This morning i made sequence color cards but they are so small that it was hard for her to go back and forth and not lose her spot.  So i am making larger cards (with less colors to start with) later today.  But either way - she loves them!  And she was very excited to show her Daddy and her brothers and sister.  And she can do it all by herself  (well, she can once i get things redone - my fault, not hers or the materials.) 

When we were in our own place i had 2 shelves just for Bear that held several activities and books to read that he could do alone.  Stringing large beads and sorting frogs and numbers to name a couple.  Cat also has a spooning tray where she moves pompoms from one bowl to another.  Sometimes she sorts them by color (black and red). 
My hope is that i can set out and present something new each week, at the least, that will inspire her to work alone, along side her older siblings. 

But also, i should mention, i am working to incorporate more Montessori style learning for all the kids into the school day.  For the older ones  we will have a theme each week (probably based on Bear's science) that i will set a shelf up for.  Then they can work on things as they finish up or take a break from their other work.  The first week is  the Universe - Stars and Constellations.  We have a wonderful telescope i would like for them to use more (especially since its still gets dark early.) Knowing how it works and the different parts of it are an important part of using it! This along with learning a few constellations and more will be a fun endeavor for us all.

We are going to learn together a few things we have all missed but would like to know more about.

I encourage you to take some time and look into making a few baskets or trays of activities for your little ones.  There is a large wealth of information concerning using Montessori at home so please do not get too overwhelmed.  Start very simply with one or two activities and work your way in.

I plan to write more about this as our journey begins again with this wonderful learning method.  Its one of those things that i keep going back to and continue, every time, to see benefits abound from.  Its well worth your time as a parent and teacher. 


Katie said...

Thanks, Allison. This is a great post. I'm currently thinking of how I can use what little time I have to help work with my almost 5 year old on things she needs work on when almost all of my time and energy is spent with the 1st grader. Do you have any favorite Montessori activities that are self-directed and ACTIVE? Thanks!

allison said...

Hi Katie!

That's the great thing about Montessori. Once you present the activity (and the child understands how its to be done) then it becomes a self-directed activity. Also, all montessori activities are active! The children use thier hands and brain and sometimes their whole body to perform the activity.

For our active 5 yr old I think throwing a ball into a laundry basket is his favorite one. The basket can be on the floor, on a chair, he can try different 'fancy' shots. His sibiling even play HORSE with him sometimes.

Walking the line is one of my favorites : ) that he enjoys as well - forward, backward, while hopping, while holding a bean bag on your head, etc are all fun.

Then to work more on the fine motor skills - paper cutting, pasting, and playdough.

Well, the list is extensive, and i could go on all day, but those are probably the favorites here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Katie said...

Thanks, Allison! They all sound like fun!