A little over a year ago...I was looking at starting to homeschool Asia...and I was frankly like...how the heck am I supposed to do this?!? The twins were 3 1/2 at the time and Skye was 1 1/2. Oh, and I was supposed to be doing 30 hours a week of language study...but that's another story.
And we knew very well what our starting point was...when we still lived in Manila, we may have made it through one Sunday at church in 1.5 years that didn't require us taking out at least one of the kids because they could not sit quietly or sit still. For very long at all.
Even trying to go to a restaurant had to be a carefully planned affair because our 4 little rapscallions couldn't wait and sit still long enough for their food to get there. It was hard and it was stressful and frankly the idea of adding school on top of what we were already facing seemed to be more than we could handle.
I read TONS books and blogs...ALL full of great tips and ideas of how to keep your little ones occupied while you teacher your older kids. And they ALL made it sounds sooo easy.
BUT NOBODY TOLD ME THAT IT WOULD TAKE AN ENTIRE YEAR! Yes, that is right people...an ENTIRE YEAR of slowly training my kids about proper classroom behavior to get to the point that I can actually teach my oldest daughter something without being interrupted about a million times and she can understand and have learned something.
It has taken an entire year of rudely interrupted Cat in the Hat paragraphs for us to get to the point that my kids BEG me to read to them...(now real chapter books) and they sit quietly and draw or color...but for a year, it seemed that me slowly bleeding would be easier than reading. (and apparently more interesting to my children.)
But now...they can sit and listen happily for over an hour straight...and when my voice gives out or I have some other work to do...they beg me to read....JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER! Maybe my kids are just naturally more unruly than other children...(I don't know where they get it from) but it has been a long, uphill battle!
I just want to be honest about homeschooling with a few younger children along for the ride...cuz I have a feeling that there are other moms out there in the same boat that we've been in... Maybe you are pulling your hair out and feeling like the kid that you are actually trying to teach isn't even learning anything...because you are sooo busy breaking up fights/brawls with your other younger kids, trying to keep them from drawing on the furniture, floors and walls, changing diapers, getting snacks, etc.
The thing is...those articles, books, blogs, etc...All have excellent ideas about how to keep your younger children occupied when you are trying to homeschool an older sibling...You know, Simple Steps to Scholarly Sibling Silence for Harmonious Homeschooling (S.S.S.S.S.H.H.)... I have used and continue to use many of their ideas... But the thing they don't say is...at least in some cases...it doesn't happen on the first day...it doesn't even happen during the first week, or month....and frankly... it might just take you an ENTIRE YEAR to train your younger children to play quietly or color quietly or whatever while you are teaching an older one.
It took a ridiculous amount of patience and work and a bit of self-analysis on the state of my own sanity...But it was soooo very worth it.
We are very fortunate that Brian quite often works from home...or is at least in and out all through the day... Our ministry is a little different...and it seems like his schedule changes EVERY day. He helped me sooo much at first and frankly up until the last couple of months.. We started very slowly. And not all of you will have the option to do this...
At first, I started teaching Asia when the other 3 were having naps...or when Brian was around to watch them.
Then, I brought the twins in...They colored, drew, played with stickers, played with pattern blocks, played with Imaginets, or something... They were very loud and EXTREMELY distracting... I thought I was going to go crazy!!! It was super difficult for Asia...who is very easily distracted... It didn't last very long at first-- sometimes only 20 to 30 minutes...and a lot of that time was spent with me dealing with the twins. But eventually...they were able to go longer and longer... I would like to say that they are super quiet and never interrupt my teaching any more...but unfortunately...they are still a work in progress... Some days are better than others...but thankfully, there are now more good days than bad. And now, I'm actually doing a bit of preschool with them and they take part in Asia's Bible, History/Geography and Science class.
During this time Skye would be with us if Brian wasn't home...but if he was home...he kept an eye on her while he worked. She normally played with toys or playdoh or watched a movie(hey...no judging) and ate snack...
But then, Brian had to work outside the home more and more during school time and Skye was with us more and more... Then, after a while she started asking to do school with us even when Daddy was home.
And so it has begun...I can actually teach my kids something...all 4 of them...(Skye does listen and often participates)...and I'm not going crazy... Well, ok...some of you might disagree with me on that. But I am loving teaching them and they love school.
People...don't be discouraged if it takes forever to train your young ones to be quiet while you are teaching an older child... Maybe some peoples kids learn this very quickly...but mine didn't and maybe yours won't...and that's ok. Just keep being consistent... Keep working at it...slowly building up the number of minutes they (and you) can handle...and it will happen...Frankly, I can honestly say if it worked for us it can work for ANYONE. Even if it takes you an ENTIRE YEAR of trial, error and tribulation. And I hope it doesn't!!
Leif, Slater and Skye have now worked up to doing about 1 1/2 hours of "school" everyday...and then, while they have snack and play...I finish up with Asia. I generally try to keep school to about 2 hours...but sometimes we go for 2 1/2 depending on how focused Asia decides to be. :) That amount of time is our "inside" school time...we still have our outside reading time, our outside scientific discovery time...etc.
It still isn't easy...but I have really seen growth! Looking at what was possible for school a year ago (or even three months ago) and what is possible now is super encouraging!
If you're in the thick of it right now, remember...it's worth it! And someday, your kids might even thank you.