We don’t have any toddlers or preschoolers in our home anymore, but there was a time not that long ago that I tried to teach my kindergartner and first grader while having two and three year old boys running around.
With little ones in the house, teaching older children can be a challenge. I wanted to share a few different strategies we used back then.
1. We kept it simple. We used the CC memory work CDs, a math program, and a phonics reading book. We just played, read books, and learned through life. I grabbed learning opportunities where I could (educational shows, while running errands, doing chores, answering the questions kids always ask).
2. I assigned one of the school-age kids to do an activity with the little ones while I worked with the other school-aged child. The main goal of this was to keep kids occupied so I could focus on one child, but the side benefit was that the little ones learned too. (I used this almost every day for a few years.)
Some ideas we used with success:
- flashcards to teach colors, shapes, numbers, letters, months of the year
- having all the kids collect items around the house that began with a certain letter or were all the same “type” – shape, color, etc
- doing a floor puzzle (This was one of our favorites.)
- playing with play dough (now we use modeling clay since our home is gluten-free)
- using paint with water books (q-tips are great for these instead of paint brushes)
- reading easy books to the little ones
- assigning a particular type of toy to play with (not saying “go play with your brother” but saying, “Why don’t you boys set up the car mat and play cars?”
3. We did school work in little chunks. My little guys would sometimes play fine by themselves for 15 minutes. If that was the case, we’d quick get some schooling in while they were having fun.
4. I used the high chair when needed. I would put a little one in the high chair and give them one simple puzzle (like this) at a time. It got to the point that I could get 20 minutes of learning in with the big two while Isaiah did puzzles (and Gideon was napping). I had a large collection of puzzles to keep passing to him.
5. We read a lot. I read books to the kids as much as I could. Everyone wanted to get in on the reading and curl up on my lap. I do have to say though that I couldn’t do this activity in the afternoon. Inevitably, I would fall asleep in the middle of reading out loud.
6. We didn’t leave the house very often. I definitely found that the more errands we ran and the more play dates we had, the less learning time we had. Being home just helped us get more done.
Do you have toddlers or preschoolers now? What tips or advice would you share with others in this stage of life?