Tuesday, February 3, 2015

#7 schooling with toddlers and babies in 10 TRICKS OF THE TRADE when Teaching School with a crap ton of kids everywhere- lol:

This is the 7th 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 the beginning.  Enjoy and hopefully they help you a bit too!

#7 Schooling with babies and toddlers

The "Little Boy" brigade
     Schooling with little ones about is like trying to teach rocket science while having a seizure every 90 seconds.  No matter how small the lessons should be, it can effectively take all picking day!!!  So how do you actually get stuff done?
     I actually think there is a simple answer and a more complicated one.  The simple answer is: by being flexible and creative with how you use your time.  The complicated answer is: that if you are not utilizing your team, if your kids aren't doing chores, if your scholastic expectations are too high, if your curriculum is too time consuming, if you are not dealing with "heart issues" that are causing problems, then no matter how flexible you are, you will never actually get anything done.
     School will always be the thing you ditch because the kids must be fed, the laundry done and the house picked up.  So while this post will be full of helpful tips, making your day actually work involves getting many areas of your family life in order.  With that said, now we begin =)

An older kid doing her reading
with a younger kid doing his
     I really believe curriculum choice is HUGE when it comes to schooling with little ones.  For me I needed a mix between things that could be done "one room school house" and things that could be independent.  Picking curric that will allow some flexibility is really going to pay off in the long run.  my fave is, of course, Queens.
     Another thing is the rhythm of your school days are really going to change when you go from having all your school age kids in k-3 to having 4th plus grades.  The good thing is, by the time you get to the 4th/5th grades, your older children should be well trained and part of a good working family team.  If you are already there and they are not.... well.... get on it! =)  K-3rd really does not need more than 30-60 minutes a day; 90 if you have a kid who really like doing math, by 3-4 days a week.  4th and up you are getting into the 90 min plus a day 3-4 days a week.  4 days for sure if 6th and up.  This is that "expectation" part.  If you have a kindy kid and you are trying to school 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, you are going to go crazy.  Plus, it's really not needed.

not too happy about sitting
there but he did it! 
  1. Blanket training my toddlers.  We practiced this all the time so I could use it all the time.  I would put out a small blanket for each child and they would sit on it and play with the toys I gave them.  They needed to be content with the items I gave them to play with (and not covet other things) and stay on the blanket.  This is my NUMBER ONE life saving tool with toddlers!  I did have some things that were special items that came out "just during school time" for a while, but in the end they got whatever I pulled out of the toy bin.  If I needed to focus in on one kid or another or go over something or even tend to the baby, I could lay out a blanket for each toddler with some toys and know that they were now contained.   Often they would end up on their blanket because they were either fighting or getting into things and needed to be reigned in.
  2. Me out with 5 kiddos on a field trip
    It was either do this or be a hermit.
  3. A really good baby carrier.  My favorites were my mei-tais I made and my wraps.  I could wear my baby or my toddler or both and still get things done.
  4. Schedule the school things that needed my attention the most during naptime.  (yes I trained my kids to nap at the same time everyday)  Let's face it.  It is just plain easier to school older kids when littles are asleep.
Beyond those three things is the creativity bit.  Here are some ideas:

  • school in weird places.  Alphabet and handwriting with shaving cream at bath time.  Math at the park with bugs and bark.  Science on your way to a playdate, talking about the trees you see, why the sky is blue.  Spread your schooling out and count everything... even sorting laundry is school!
  • 7 1/2 and on baby duty
  • keep lessons short- especially if you have the 3rd grade and under crowd.  Set your timmer if you must.  "Little Johnny, its time to practice handwriting"  give his his one or two page work sheet and set your timer.  If he does more that is fine too if he gets done sooner- great!  But limit yourself.  Looking at school as a 1 our block can be overwhelming but taking each subject in small chunks is so doable!
I covered my table with paper.
The tots colored for a long time!
  • don't start school until the house/team is in order.  Clear the table, wipe down the counters, start the laundry!  Have every member working! (here is my chore system)  You can get a lot more done if you can touch the table without sticking to it!
  • remember to play.  take walks, be silly!
  • rotate some babies with older kids if you have them.  Set the timer!  9yr old Jane is on baby buddy duty for 30 min while Mama sits with 6yr old John to help him with Math.
  • Have older kids help little kids.  Does Janey know how to add?  Have her help out John while you sit and nurse the baby and keep an eye on the toddlers on their blanket!
  • circle time.  This sounds kinda lame but its really fun and they all love it!  If you have older kids, they can run it!  Take 20 minutes to do circle time everyday.  Make a circle time box so everything is ready..  hmm maybe I should blog how to do this!  Include songs, easy games and some learning stuff.  Voila!  school!  It also teaches kids from very little to respect "sit down time".  
  • if they are bring really naughty, don't let it slide.  Deal with said child.  It will pay off in the long run if you don't quit in the short game.
  • if you have older kids, schedule their independent work for the time of the day that the littles most need you.  Then when the littles go to bed, hit your "big kid stuff"
  • food can be used.  sit the littles at the table with a snack while big kids sit there and do school.  
  • its okay to "tag team" with another mom.  You take the littles and they "do school" and then switch.  
  • having learning materials out that the older kids can do when they would like too.  Workbooks from the dollar tree, dice games, lego challenges!  This way your kids start to incorporate schooling into their play!
  • dry erase pens.  OKay so heres the deal.  They wipe off of everything... even kids.  Everything from a coloring page to a worksheet can go into a clear page protector and be written on and then wiped off.  I have entertained littles for hours at the table with dry erase pens!
  • if they must watch the TV make it educational.  Leap from, the magic school bus, one of the millions of nature science shows.  
  • include them!  I know that often that can make things take forever but it will entertain them, you are training them and you can keep your eyes on them!  Plus... it can be super cute!
Cowboy, toddler baking?
Why yes, yes it is!
  • make clean up fast!  many of the woes with schooling and having littles is the mess!  Minimize as much as you can and then when you do pick up- pick up by having the kids put "everything that doesnt belong" in that room into a laundry basket, then vacuum.  YEAH the room is clean!  you and the older kids can "put away the put away basket" later when there is time  
  • if its just not working, call it quits for the day, pick it all back up tmw!

     Don't be afraid! (of all these little people).  You really are the sweet boss, training your kiddos!  School is life and school is scholastic!  School is teaching them how to be mommy's and daddy's.  School is not a workbook or the amount of hours you put in.  It's the quality of the time you have!

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


    1. This post was so helpful, I found your blog through diaperswappers (mommadeeof4+) and I'm loving it!

      1. oh how fun is that! It's always exciting for me to "see" how people link up to my blog! I am glad you are enjoying my blog!

    2. These are some really great ideas are the only thing I haven't done is blanket training 9 babies 9th gr to newborn

    3. And please will you tell me how to blanket train? We have 8 and it's always chaos with the toddler (and baby and preschooler).How do you train them to stay? Thanks. Loving your blog and making it a point to be more organized and less stressed!