Five Ways to Include Preschoolers in your Homeschool Day
Sometimes our best laid plans to include the precious little ones we have into our homeschool day can fall apart with one simple interruption. The phone rings, the dog carries off a shoe, the middle schooler calls you from the other room for help with a math problem. In a matter of minutes, your homeschool can turn to bedlam. You come back to find the unsupervised toddler in the middle of a puddle of spilled milk, at a wall with a crayon making you a “pretty picture” or in the bathroom floating his toy in the toilet.
What is a Mama to Do?
Over the years I have searched for some answers on how to successfully integrate little ones into the homeschool and have tried out several things that have worked for our family.
- Embrace the younger ones first thing in the morning – Simply acknowledging that the little ones are present and welcome goes a long way to setting the tone for a positive day. Take off that teacher’s hat for a few moments and get down on their level. Give a little hug, a “good morning”, and an “I love you.” In our home this usually involves a few snuggles on the couch before breakfast after Mama’s quiet time.
- Include them in your “together time” – We have Bible time, history and science altogether each day. I draw my preschooler into this time by giving her table activities to keep her busy. Worksheets, coloring books and rolling play-dough are some activities that work well for us. It also becomes a great training time for her to learn to keep her seat. I explain that she can join us for this special time, but she is not allowed to interrupt with talking unless mom is asking questions of everyone. If she gets antsy, I take her on my lap and continue with my reading. Start with short increments of time and eventually you will have them able to sit for longer periods of time.
- Create an activity bin for use only during school time – I put things that are educational and fun in this bin and place it in her room. I send her there to play when I need some uninterrupted one-on-one time with my older kids. She can listen to music, rehearse her AWANA memory verses, play a matching game or play with pop beads. If you have younger kids, you may only be able to leave them in a room for 5 minutes alone to start with. You can start by leaving the door open so that you can glance in occasionally and make sure they are not being destructive or making a mess.
- Change the environment – When little ones get loud or demanding, sometimes all it takes is to change the environment and attitudes change. We have been known to take our reading outside onto our driveway. I give my preschooler some sidewalk chalk or a riding toy and we continue with our subjects in the great outdoors.
- Enlist your preschooler as Mama’s little helper – Basic tasks such as wiping the table with a sponge, watering plants with supervision, emptying trash cans and wrapping leftovers in foil can be a great bonding experience as well as an opportunity for little ones to learn skills that require coordination and following directions.
Viewing your little ones as assets rather than interruptions to your homeschool day can go a long way to keeping a mother’s attitude one that honors the Lord. Providing meaningful activities to occupy your preschooler can head off some of the inevitable messes that inattention creates. Have a plan and schedule your preschool into the homeschool plan. Have older siblings take a turn playing with the preschooler or teach them the ABC’s while you have one-on-one time with another child. A happy, busy preschooler is less likely to interfere with homeschooling when they are included in the plan. Embrace this special time because the years pass quickly. Let’s make the most of the time God gives us with these precious little ones.