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The Boyer Blog: Include Your Toddler in School Time

Monday, July 28, 2008

Include Your Toddler in School Time

Usually toddlers want to do school like the older kids are doing, so start young, when they have that desire! It’s such a temptation to send the little ones away so you can concentrate on the other kids you’re teaching math to, but as much as possible, let them be present. You will be so surprised by what they will learn simply by being there while you teach the older ones. I remember three-year-old Matt joining us while I was teaching his brothers and sisters anatomy. I got him an anatomy coloring book, and while I was working with them he was coloring in his “uh-atomy book!” And he just thought he was a big guy! He would even color the pictures to try to gross out his sister at lunchtime!

Another time I was teaching math facts. “Nine times four is thirty-six,” and I did it in a sing-songy way. While Josh tried to remember what it was, Carrie, the three-year-old, popped up and said, “Thirty-six!” as if she was finishing the song. They will pick up so much just from being present. We do train them to have school-time voices. Otherwise, what happens is pure chaos! (Though if you came to our house you would see that it’s never truly quiet.) The older kids have to learn to put up with a little bit of distraction from the younger kids, and the younger kids have to learn to use their school-time voices, for which we reward them. In our home it takes us about two and a half hours to do school—this last year that meant seven children. I spend special time with my preschoolers about halfway through while the older kids have snack—my little guys look forward to that time with mom in between. I also spend time with them as soon as I finish with the older kids.

Text Box: SCHOOLBOX IDEAS: LACE-AND-TRACE SHAPES LEARNING PUZZLES FLANNEL GRAPHS PLAYDOUGH & TOOLS BLOCK SETS SHAPE SORTERS DRY-ERASE/CHALK BOARDS SPECIAL MARKERS & PAPER MAGNETIC LETTERS SPECIAL BIBLE TAPES EDUCATIONAL VIDEO POPSICLE STICKS GEOBOARD TANGRAMS BUTTON SORTING PAPER-PUNCH PICTURES INKPAD PICTURES WET CHALK DRAWING FRUIT & VEGETABLE PRINTS SEWING CARDS PAPER DOLLSAnother thing we’ve done is to allow the older children to teach the younger children as a reward for finishing their schoolwork in a timely way. For instance, Laura loves doing art projects with the little ones. So she will do her math diligently (she does not like math), then be rewarded by doing art projects with the little guys, which is really good for both of them.

You can also include the little ones in things like nature walks, science experiments, anything you’re teaching the older ones that is hands-on. Let your little ones listen to you as you read history stories or biographies to the older kids. Our two- and three-year-olds love to listen to history books, biographies, and nature stories. I’ve found that it’s my little ones who require most of my time—my preschoolers, toddlers, and the ones who are learning to read. The other kids pretty much just need help when they get stuck on something.

What has really been a lifesaver for me was getting a big box and putting in that box, things that I save just for school time for the preschoolers like lace-and-trace shapes, learning puzzles that are appropriate for their age (Matt, now 21, still loves puzzles. He learned his states and capitals at a very early age just by putting our puzzles together); flannel graphs with Bible figures or counting objects, playdough, rolling pins, plastic knives, molds (worth the mess for the time it keeps them occupied!); block sets, shape sorters, dry erase boards, special markers and paper, magnetic letters, chalkboards, special Bible tapes such as Your Story Hour or Uncle Rick CD's and, very occasionally, a short educational video (be careful of using videos as a babysitter; it is not a profitable use of their time), popsicle sticks, geoboard, tangrams, button sorting, paper-punch pictures, inkpad pictures, wet chalk drawing, fruit and vegetable prints, sewing cards, paper dolls (One year my second son, who lives life with his hands, made a paper doll family for his sister. He took pictures of our family, cut ovals out of wood, and glued the faces to the dolls! My girls still use these family dolls, passed down to all the kids through the years. They play-out situations in our family, which is not always good! It really shows us what they’re picking up!). The possibilities are endless, and they’re learning without even knowing it! The trick is to not let them do these things any time they want—save it all for school time. Of course attention spans vary. Some children will do things like this for a long time, and others need more activities changed frequently. Keep changing the activity before they get tired of it so they look forward to it the next time you bring it out.

...from the booklet, Home Educating with Babies and Toddlers and Loving it. by Marilyn Boyer

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Blogger Felicity said...

Oh I really need some refreshing ideas like this! I love the idea of 'school-time voices'.

August 27, 2010 at 11:25 AM  

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