I had one of those moments this past week.
I was at a homeschool meeting when the speaker began discussing how to structure your day if you are homeschooling more than one child. My ears perked up naturally because I have more than one child to homeschool and I have been tweaking our schedule lately. She explained that it is a natural inclination to structure your school day around your oldest child. However, her advice was to structure your homeschool day around your youngest child (even, and especially if they are not yet school aged). In other words, you meet the youngest child's needs first. This is a family activity and the whole family should be involved. If I spend the whole day shooing John away from school, or just giving him busy work and not giving him my attention, then I am creating a negative association with school. Guess what I had been doing all this time? When it is his time to start school in a few months, he won't want to have anything to do with it.
Wallowing in what is going wrong is so unproductive. Thankfully the meeting is held in Barnes and Noble so I could run two aisles over to get some solutions. Here is what we have changed.....
- We start each morning with play-dough. It is John's favorite activity, and it will strengthen the girls motor skills as well. We do it until John is bored, which is usually about 30 minutes.
- We do our joint learning classes like history and science first so that John can participate as long as he wants to.
- While Chloe reads to me, Emma and John do math, or vice versa. Emma is doing her math and John helps her count out her manipulatives or he comes over and laces cards with me.
- After lunch we sit down to have craft time before we restart school.
- I have special sticker books for John and some pattern manipulatives that we work on together. The difference now is that instead of having him do his work on his own quietly, I make him a part of everything. He is in the "attention rotation".