Thursday, January 15, 2015

#6 Utilize your team (aka older kids) in 10 TRICKS OF THE TRADE when Teaching School with a crap ton of kids everywhere- lol:

This is the 6th in a series about teaching school with lots of kids, multiple ages and grades and little ones about.  These 10 things would have revolutionized my life, had I done them all from th beginning.  Enjoy and hopefully they help you a bit too!

#6 Utilize your team (aka older kids)

  From a very early age, older siblings can and should help out in the home.  This is their training time for when they are moms and dads!  Kids can help in so many ways and schooling is no exception!  This is especially true as children get bigger and the family gets bigger.

  This does not mean you are shirking your own responsibility as parent and educator.  Letting your children participate in teaching and helping with school IS PART of THEIR SCHOOL!  It's  a huge part of learning and one that has mutual benefits for you all!  Everyone must learn to be a disciple and to be discipled!

  From a very early age I partnered up kids to do some school together.  This is before I was working with block schedules and one room school house teaching.  I didn't pair kids up because I thought it would be a great teaching opportunity, in truth I did it out of survival.  I had just had baby #6 and... well there was a lot going on in that period of my life.  I needed help.  My 7 year old (2nd daughter) was a very good reader but my 6 year old daughter was not (partially due to age and partially because

H was 7, helping M then 6 with school
she just wasn't going to be until she was older) anyway, the 7 year old thought it was a brilliant idea when I told her she would buddy up with a younger sister and do science together.  They read an ABEKA science reading book together and answered the questions.  It was a beautiful thing.  Big sister and Little sister loved doing school together and I often found them "playing school" but actually doing real work.
  I will admit that there was a certain amount of guilt that came in the beginning.  Feelings of shame that I was "stealing their childhood" or that I was "not doing my own responsibilities".  Quickly the Lord showed me how much the kids enjoyed it, how it strengthened their relationships and that they were learning a skill!  I wasn't stealing anything I was enriching!  Thank you Jesus!

  Utilizing your team isn't just about schooling though.  Its also there with everyday chores and food as well.  It's a complete picture where kids are helping and pitching in as needed because we are all a team... we are a family- it's what family does!

 Now lets utilize these little people!

  There is no "schedule" really to having kids help in school or with day to day stuff.  It just happens as its needed- don't be afraid to call on them on the fly!  Here are some ways and times I utilize my team:

H reading to the little boys

  • I have to leave the house for some reason.  my M12g LOVES science and loves to teach the boys!  She will step into my place and "do science" with them.  Still One room school house, but the teacher has changed.  A9b says he loves when M12 teaches science because "she makes it fun.  She gets very excited about what is being learned and that makes me more excited.  She also is very encouraging."  
  • Twice a week, on the same day, I have to bring my oldest to work and my A9b to physical therapy.  H13g and M12g will finish up any one on one school still left with the little boys and H13g usually plans a craft with them.  She loves littles and really enjoys being a teacher.  She will do a circle time, sing songs with them and do a learning craft.  This is all by her own initiative but I still count it as school!
  • Something in the house has to get done.  A little one needs attention, a baby needs dealing with, important phone call that can't be skipped.  Things happen!  Things come up!  Sometimes in these moments I might change the assignment a little in order to make it easier for the older one I am putting in charge but usually its pretty smooth.
    M and A doing a gardening
    assignment together
  • I need people to sit with new readers and let them read out loud.  Littles are always very ready to help with the listening!  Some of those littles are learning to read though and they too need practice.  I can buddy up older kids with younger kids in order to hit more than one bird with one stone.  With 4 boys learning to read and on different reading levels, it is nice to be able to split up that 20 min reading time over myself and 3 other big kids.  If I didn't do this I would be sitting for an hour or more just in listening to kids read and I do not always have that time.
  • "long assignments sometimes need 2 brains working it".  This could also be titled, "I only have so many computers/tablets and you need to share so work together".  I 'spose this isn't really teaching but still buddies up kids to streamline the learning.  Also when you buddy up an older with a younger, they help keep the younger on task and the younger kid feels a lot of pride with doing a "bigger assignment".
  • play games.  they usually need more than one person anyway.
  • when I was gone for 5 days.  I assigned teachers and students.  All the schooling still got done when I was away. 
    F15 doing real swimming
    lessons with D5
  • food: While I am working with a set of kids an older child can make lunch.
  • laundry:  hello!  someone please go flip the laundry (all my kids know how to do that!)
  • "I need some help"  this is heard often enough and often enough its said by more than one child.  I have "mini teachers" all over the place.  If you are a big kid and a little one needs help and you are close.. help out =)
  • little ones need to be distracted so I can work with someone on something.  Often enough we "rotated" old kid helpers and saved our big kid school for when babies were sleeping.  More on that in a later post about schooling with babies and toddlers.
  I know a lot of these idea are simple and " a given".  I think a big thing for us homeschooling moms is in actually utilizing the team we have.  So many things can get in the way of that.  Satan often tells us "we are failing, our kids aren't mature enough, they will all need
The "Reds" doing school
with the little boys, just because
they all thought it would be fun!
therapy!" and so much more.  The Lord tells us  to "find our strength in him, to train our children up, to teach them diligently".  As I said earlier... everyone is both a disciple and needs to be discipled. 

That concludes this blog post.   I hope you have enjoyed this overview on utilizing your team (aka older kids)!  Other topics to come in this series, in no particular order, are:

  • One Room School House Teaching
  • block scheduling/4 day school week
  • 3 hour limit
  • schooling when they are ready- don't stress until then
  • sickness in the house and new babies
  • utilize your team (aka older kids)
  • schooling with toddlers and babies
  • FEED the people
  • Making an "unschedule" for your home

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