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Homeschooling Around the Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, March 02, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 17 March 2, 2009
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible.




Notes from Heather
-- Help Us Pick a Title!
Helpful Tip
-- Absurd Math Website
Resource Review
-- One-Syllable Pilgrim's Progress
Reader Question
-- Schooling Amidst Babies
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Our Dr. Seuss Story Needs a Title!

Jodi and I are very excited as we may be actually publishing
our story as a real book! :-) We are still stuck on a title,
however, so we are asking friends to re-read the story and
either vote on a title or suggest a better one.

Can you please help out? Just go here to vote -- and there
is a link there to the story, too, in case you haven't read it.



Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


Math Mammoth - Affordable Math Worktexts & Curriculum

Find affordable books on various math topics from addition
to decimals (Blue Series) OR a complete curriculum.

* Emphasis is on conceptual development, but not forgetting
practice needed for mastery.

* Blue Series books $2-$5.50, complete curriculum $29.70/grade
(download prices); printed softcopies also available.

The author Maria Miller is a math teacher & homeschooling
mom, also the author of the website HomeschoolMath.net.

Download a package of 280 free sample worksheets and pages:
=> http://www.mathmammoth.com/free


Helpful Tip


"Absurd Math is an interactive mathematical problem solving game
series. The player proceeds on missions in a strange world where
the ultimate power consists of mathematical skill and knowledge."

-- Lara


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

One Syllable Pilgrim’s Progress
Author: John Bunyan
For more information or to order: www.homeschoolingfromtheheart.com

Experience the journey with Christian as he travels to the heavenly
city. Presented in words of one syllable for easy reading, this
abridged version of the classic tale encourages young people to
follow Christ to our final arrival in the Celestial City of God.
Names of people and places are the same as in the unabridged version
and are multi-syllable, but the rest of the text is written in
easy to read words, without sacrificing literary quality. The
meter and old English 'tone' have been kept, making this an 'easy'
reader, but still challenging and very enjoyable. Black and white
drawings throughout the book add to the charm and enhance the story
for young readers.

Great for children who are not quite ready for more difficult
chapter books -- we used it for read aloud practice, each of us
taking turns, and enjoyed great discussions about many spiritual

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am new to homeschooling this year and I'm having a bit of a
struggle. My daughter is in kindergarten and is doing really well
reading. We also have a three-year-old and a baby who requires
much of my time right now, as babies are apt to do.

My problem is that I haven't figured out how to schedule the
school time and devote much time to planning or working with my
daughter. She is a willing student, but does not like to work
independently. Plus, if the preschooler has been given something
to do, the older child is distracted by that activity and wants
to be involved.

By the time the baby is in bed at night (between 11 and midnight),
I'm too wiped out to plan activities and gather materials for the
next day. So when the timing is right to do some kindergarten
work during the day, like during the baby's nap, I scrounge around
for something worthwhile to do. If there's any interruption
(potty break, diaper change, spilled cup, etc), my daughter gets
off task and the opportunity is lost. My daughter is very energetic
and bright. Without directed activities she tends to get bored
and then the discipline troubles begin.

I feel overwhelmed and the temptation to send my daughter to school
is creeping in. How do I get organized in a hurry with these three
little ones? Please give me advice! Thanks." -- Lina

Our Readers' Responses

"Hi, Lina. First thing I would say is don't stress out about it.
I homeschool my daughter who is almost 7, but I need the income so
I am a work-at-home homeschooling mom. The best way I do this for
me is having an in-home daycare. I have 4-6 babies every day. My
daughter works on her own sheets when she can, and if she needs my
help or we are doing projects, etc., then we do that during nap
times. Some days we don't get everything done, but she is still
learning and at a fast pace. I buy workbooks from a teacher store
and some days that is all she does. We don't have a schedule; we
just do things as we can. Sometimes we may be running errands after
the kids leave and she will be doing a math sheet in the car. There
is no timeline for her learning, so I don't feel a need to be rushed
or get everything done every day. If she wants to be involved with
the little one's activity, let her 'help'. She is learning a lot
from that right there. Hope this helps some!" -- Misty


"Lina -- I have four small children, three of which are homeschooling.
I would suggest that you coordinate your homeschooling time with
the baby's first naptime of the day. Whatever else you may be
tempted to do at that time, just stop when the baby goes down and
knock out your homeschooling for the day. Then I would put the
kindergartner at the table and I would sit right beside her to do
her work. I always put my 3-year-old in the playpen right beside
where I'm doing homeschool, and I include her in everything we're
doing in school with my kindergartner. If we're counting, I'm
telling them both, 'Let's do our counting!' If I'm doing phonics,
I'm holding up my phonics flashcards for both to see and tell me
that 'A says a-a-aaaaapple'.

When my kindergartner is doing her writing, my 3-year old is doing
her coloring (her version of 'writing'). In my case, my 3-year
old really wants to be in on the big-kid school time so this works
well for us. You may even find that you'll have your 3-year old
reading, writing, or counting, right along with your older child
too! Another thing is that you were saying that you're trying to
plan activities and gather materials after midnight. No wonder
you're burning out! You may have a certain style of homeschooling
that you have in mind to do, but I personally just stick with
Abeka for Kindergarten. I ordered the parent/child kit. It takes
us 30 minutes a day to get through it all with no planning or
grading. I just keep a sticky note on the lesson we left off on
so I know where to start the next day. I sit there with my child
doing it side-by-side with her so there's no papers to grade and
planning to do at night. I'm grading and planning AS we do her
lessons. Also, when you have to go change a diaper or tend to
something else going on in the house, you might just tell your
child to color the pictures on the page that you're working on
until you get back. Just some ideas! Get a good routine going
for your day. Write it down and scratch things off as you do
them and you will have peace, order, and a fun homeschool program.
Hang in there!" -- Christina


"Lina -- I feel your pain. I also have three children two years
apart at each step. Try to remember as you get through this year,
it is Kindergarten. While there are many things that your daughter
needs to learn, it does not all need to be learned this year. When
my son was in Kindergarten, my biggest goal was to get him reading.
It sounds like you have accomplished that already! Awesome! I did
a handwriting program with him and a math program, as well. Just
three steps. For such a young and spirited child, I would think
three things should do it. Keep all of your school stuff in a tub
so you can easily find it. Just do the next page in each subject.
One day at a time; it will pass. Next year you will wonder why you
were so stressed about it. And then before you know it, your three
year old will look at you and tell you what each letter says in the
Alphabet and you will have to teach him to read, too! It happened
to me way before I was ready. Hang in there!" -- Kim W.


"Keep the faith, sister! It does get better, or at least different.

First, let me assure you that sending your daughter to school will
not really save your stress level; it would just change it. Instead
of having breakfast while reading devotionals, and then having
reading practice with her and the toddler in your lap, you would be
rushing her to eat, scrambling to get her dressed, waking everyone
to either take her to school or walk her to the bus. You would be
packing lunch and the toddler would be needing the bathroom, but
you could not stop because the bus was coming. Your daughter would
need her shoes tied and the baby would want to be fed. She would
not be able to find her book bag and the toddler would have hidden
your keys in the couch -- and she would be late to school while
still the baby is crying to be fed.

You see, the stressors would just be different -- and then the after
school time would be spent doing mindless, busy-work homework, and
because you started with a home schooling mindset, you would be
frantically trying to do all the fun and interesting things you
know she is missing out on at public school. So, keep the faith.
And when it all gets to be too much, take her outside. While the
3-year-old is running about or needing to be pushed on the swing,
send your daughter to find a pile of 10 rocks -- and then have her
toss them into 2 little piles and add 6 rocks in one pile plus 4
rocks in the other to equal 10 rocks, or whatever other clever ways
you might trick her into learning. Sit down, grab a good book or
the Bible, and feed the baby, read aloud and have the others play
quietly nearby. It will de-stress you and they will hear the
cadence of language or scripture -- that's learning, right?

Second, she does not really have to do too much now -- maybe less
than 2 hours of work each day -- and it does not have to be done
all at once. Second, use the babies' nap-time to do some school
and use the TV to entertain the toddler (with educational shows
or videos of course). Have her read to the toddler and you,
while snuggled under a blanket -- you could even be holding baby
in your arms. (I have always found that putting the baby in a
carrier and standing and rocking him while the pre-schooler plays
with Legos on the floor is a great way to read to an older child
while keeping everyone else quiet so she can focus.)

Third, make up school boxes for the pre-schooler. I have used
a shoe box filled with different shaped noodles for them to sort
into cups, a tray of sand/salt for them to write in while big
sister does handwriting; the magic paper or drawing pads which
you only need water in a pen-like drawing tool so there is no mess
except a little water; strings and large beads, blocks or other
building toys, puzzles/shape sorters, lacing/stringing objects
like cheerios, paperclips; a board/paper plate with holes punched
in it, measuring cups/spoons and rice -- you get the idea. The
toddler/pre-schooler may only have those things when it is the
appropriate time for school, and the more boxes you have the better,
so she does not get bored. Having a special school place for the
younger children may be helpful; we had a tiny desk and a 3 foot
square piece of carpet for the little ones to do school, which is
definitely less distraction than having them at the table.

Fourth, train the potty-training one to use the bathroom before
you begin a subject and then have her sit in her special place
to do her 'school', too.

Fifth, have a mommy helper come over to play with little ones.
Suggestions for this might be Grandma, an elderly neighbor or
church member, another home schooling kid who has extra time, or
my personal favorite -- call the local high school and ask for the
names of some honor society kids who need community service and
have them volunteer by reading to the little ones, playing games
with them like 'Duck, Duck, Goose' -- they are free and very useful.
I have, on occasion, had this mommy helper do handwriting or math
with the school-aged kids if they just needed company to stay on
task -- and that freed me to start dinner or play with the younger
ones. I have also found it very helpful to have a 10-year-old
neighbor girl come to play with the baby and little ones. This
age of kid is not expecting money (or you could just give them a
few bucks), they typically love little kids, and they are not as
busy or expensive as a teenager. (I am there, so I am not too
concerned about their age or maturity level.)

For Organization:

1. Purchase workbooks and just paperclip the pages she last worked
on, so the next time you open the book you are where she left off.

2. On Sunday nights, about 7 p.m., it is Daddy time. He gets the
kids, does baths, reads, whatever -- and I retreat to my desk and
plan the week -- what pages need to be copied, what supplies are
needed, etc. I either add these to a list to get or put in a box
for the week, and I make sure the school supplies are in their
places with sharpened pencils.

3. Each morning you could get up 20 minutes early and set out the
supplies for the day -- in a high place so little ones do not get
into them.

4. I always shower and lay out my clothes and those for the kids
the night before.

5. I follow a daily plan -- not exactly, but just enough to keep
things on track -- including a cleaning schedule, meal plan, and
how many minutes it takes for each type of assignment. If math
is not done in 20 minutes, we just leave it until tomorrow or the
child has to do it alone if they goofed around. We have a meal
plan so that each Monday we eat the same thing for breakfast --
oatmeal -- lunch is sandwiches. Tuesday is cereal in the morning
and soup for lunch. This helps me to not spend too much time
preparing meals and cleaning them up.

6. As many nights as possible, we put kids to bed and Dad gets
any baby or kid who cannot sleep, and I prepare for teaching the
next day. I try to view it as my job and worthy of preparation,
training, and whatever is needed -- just as any professional would
do for their career.

So, if you did a little school right after breakfast when everyone
is fresh, then another bit while during nap/TV time, then a third
segment after 3 when a helper could come, and then even a few
minutes once Dad is home, you will get all the 'work' done, and
the rest of the day should be fun -- exploring outdoors, reading
books, taking trips, and even cleaning the house.

I might suggest that you read some of the following books -- they
really helped me to find ideas to entertain and also help my
pre-schooler while schooling the others. (I would tell the school-age
kids that they could pick an activity to do after they completed
each assignment so they did not get too jealous that the younger
ones were having too much fun!)

102 I Can Do It Myself Activities For Preschoolers by Retchko/Zorn
(currently out-of-print -- check the library)

Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June Oberlander

500 Five Minute Games or 300 Three Minute Games by Jackie Solberg

'My Father's World' curriculum has a pre-school set of teaching
tools and a small pre-school teaching guide you can purchase to use
with toddlers and pre-schoolers. All the items are high quality,
adaptable for many ages, and help to develop the motor and learning
skills of that age group. I absolutely love these things!

I hope that some of this helps." -- Elizabeth

Answer our NEW Question

"I am highly interested in the Charlotte Mason method of schooling,
but would like an easy to understand website, or list of books to get,
or just a really basic where-to-begin. Of what I have learned so far,
I like the method of reading a bit, then having the child tell it back.
We have started doing that recently and that has really really helped
stories to stick with my 10 year old; better than reading the entire

I just want to know if it's too late to start my 10 year old in this
method of teaching. I also have a 5 year old and 2 year old, and I
know that for them I just need lots of books and outside time, right?

Any help would be very greatly appreciated." -- Sheri


Can you give Sheri some mentoring advice for the CM style?

Please send your answer to: mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

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