|Homeschool Picnic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
When I began homeschooling I had a 5th grader, a kindergartener (who was scheduled for major surgery), an 18 month old, and I was expecting baby #4.
I was on bed rest, I couldn't walk, and my older son needed to catch up in a few areas (math in particular).
So how did I survive?
The key to my homeschooling survival was three fold.
- I had the heart and attitude that no-one was going to be more invested in my children's success than I was.
- I took the time to create a plan.
- I found successful homeschool moms and asked a lot of questions and implemented their methods that were successful.
When you school around toddlers and infants you have to be dedicated. There is no other way to describe it. It is exhausting to chase little ones and teach algebra simultaneously.
The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you are committed to "Stick and Stay". Our kids desperately need to see us model a 'never quit' attitude. The great news is that, with a few adjustments, it is absolutely possible to do a great job!
If a plan is going to succeed, there must first be a plan; a goal. It was here in my life's story that my husband and I focused and formed our foundational goals; our Mission Statement if you will. I would encourage you to do the same. Our goals were simple.
- Pass on our faith
- Teach our kids basic math facts
- Foster a love of reading while exposing our kids to great literature
- Begin the lifelong journey of becoming an excellent writer and communicator.
I would never have survived that first year of homeschooling had I not taken the time to seek advice and ask for help. Some people have a really hard time asking for guidance, not me. I knew I was a good teacher, but I also knew my house was a mess and I had no idea how to teach with little ones around.
Here's what I gleaned from experts.
- Organization: I actually had a new friend come and help me organize my home. She taught me how to clear and organize clutter. She taught me how to store things into clear bins. She taught me that taking the time to organize my home, even above the time I took to teach would save me countless hours. Fast forward to today. This was the smartest thing I ever did. It took me about 3 weeks to completely clean. purge, and organize my home yet I have been able to maintain it for over a decade.
- Toddlers crave routine (actually we all do, but toddlers thrive when they can anticipate the next thing). One of the moms I "interviewed" encouraged me to schedule my toddlers into manageable time-chunks. It can best be compared to kindergarten "stations". I established a cycle of activities that followed this order: eat, quiet activity, busy activity.
- If I could give any advice it would be to glean this "quiet-time"/controlled environment mentality. I used a high chair, a car seat, a booster seat, a playpen, a crib and a gated area for quiet time activity centers. I chose activities that were age appropriate and safe and gave the toddler their own space. I honestly did not let them "roam"- that's when they would get into trouble. Sometimes they were in the same room and even at or near the same table; other times I had them "play" in the next room or in their room. This was something I trained into their day. I began with 5 minute intervals and slowly worked up to 30-45 minutes. It worked beautifully with all my little ones.
Toddlers crave consistency. Toddlers will thrive under a schedule of rotation of activities. Toddlers need to have set boundaries, for their own development and safety, as well as the sanity of your homeschool environment.
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