Professionally, I am a pediatric occupational therapist, but right now I am a home school mom. Read how we are coping with this “new normal” here. In trying to keep up some academic rhythm for my first grader, this means keeping my preschooler occupied. I’m following the older one’s schedule and adapting activities for the younger one. Homeschooling multiple kids is the juggling act I didn’t know I’d have to perform! Homeschooling a preschooler is super tough because I don’t necessarily have a curriculum to follow.
Right now we are working with 4 academic blocks of time: math, writing, reading and science/social studies.
Being an OT – I understand the developmental progression of those early years and how it pertains to academic concepts later on. While my 4-year old isn’t ready for the same academic instruction as his brother, he can work on other precursors.
I want to give you a glimpse of what our first week of homeschooling with multiple kids (of different ages) looked like, and how I involved both of my kids. In order to keep my sanity, I kept them both on the same schedule. While #1 worked on his school assignments, this is what I did with #2.
Here are my tips and ideas for homeschooling with multiple kids, particularly homeschooling a preschooler and how to adapt:
My preschooler is working on things like counting, 1:1 correspondence, sequencing and size order. Homeschooling with a preschooler involved first helping setup the schedule each day so we practiced first/middle/last. We organized cars in vehicle bin from large to small. At the beach we made rock cairns stacking top – down. This is all math related. We practiced shapes and counted how many sides each one had and tried to find them throughout the house. One day we sketched a large hopscotch board on the driveway with chalk. My first grader practiced math facts, and the preschooler worked on hopping on one foot, sequencing numbers by counting front/backwards. The mailman even took a turn as he came by on his delivery route.
My preschooler is working on the letters of his name, starting sounds, and rhyming words. I am trying not use work sheets or wipe boards, but multi-sensory, developmentally appropriate manipulatives. I found some alphabet puzzles, flash card sets, a partially used letter sticker pack and construction paper to make pieces that I use with my clients at work. Occupational therapists frequently help teachers implement handwriting curriculum at school, and one that I recommend is called Handwriting Without Tears. Part of their preschool program involves “building” letters with wooden pieces, using play-doh, and a small chalkboard to practice writing letters with. Their website has some downloads and printables for parents to checkout. Activities like tracing, connecting dots, forming lines and drawing shapes are some of the stepping stones to letter formation.
Lucky for me, both of my boys are book obsessed. We found some classic chapter books that I read to both of them. The first grader has reading assignments, and he is happy to read to his brother. As a group we try to identify some of the plot, characters, etc and practice retelling the story. We have totally capitalized on the online story times with our favorite authors. Although I had stocked up with audio books before our library closed, I will look to digital library resources next. Homeschooling a preschooler (really a child of any age), involves lots of reading on my lap!
SCIENCE and SOCIAL STUDIES
I am loving the at home safaris and zoo videos that are shared! When we take nature walks we listen for bird sounds and try to identify plants. We have made maps of the yard, the house and the neighborhood. In preparation for a coastal hike, we referenced the tide charts. My oldest is making a moon journal, so that can be an activity for all of us. Baking and food prep are now regular family activities, so I am capitalizing on that daily too.
Tomorrow my plan is to make some home-made playdoh and make ‘snakes’ to form the ABCs. If he’s getting good with the letters of his name, we will spray shaving cream on a cookie sheet and “write” with our fingers.