Occupying many little ones

Using MFW Preschool & Pre-K Packages, as well as occupying babies and toddlers while teaching
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Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:23 pm

Occupying many little ones

Unread post by jwood »

Keeping everyone out of trouble
momof7 wrote:At the MACHE conference I heard David Hazell tell about his MFW Program. I have 7 children in all, and I needed something easier than what I had been doing, especially as the little ones get past babyhood. It sounded good to me! I need a guide to keep us moving on some kind of track, and lesson plans to keep us moving.

I am worried about the 2 and 4 year-old running around getting into trouble while I'm working with the older children. I also have a 6 year-old who has cerebral palsy, but he has a PCA to help him.

I think this program would work well with a simple schedule, making sure the tots get their time, too.
I think MFW will be very refreshing to you.

If you haven't heard, "occupying preschoolers while teaching others", you can get one from MFW.

One of my favorite things about the program is the time spent doing it ...not much involved =)

Elissa Baker
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Unread post by Elissa Baker »

Mom of 7,

I have no doubt that you will fall in love with MFW like the rest of us. It is so great to have a well balanced, fun, interesting, Bible based curriculum that does NOT bog down Mom (or the students)!

I have never heard David speak but I would like to listen to his tape about occupying preschoolers. Anyhow, I have 3 young ones and it is definitely a training process for me keeping them occupied.

Here are some examples of what we did. This year we had a fairly large school room so it helped to keep them confined to this room, not having the freedom to go about the house. They are not allowed to bring in "toys" but have a big selection of quiet learning toys, Lauri puzzles, books, etc. They are supposed to play quietly and not do too much talking (this is hardest for the 2yo.) This of course doesn't happen overnight, so expect interruptions while training. The young ones are encouraged to listen when we are reading a science or history book, but they don't have to. I also copy extra coloring pages so they can join in w/ the older ones too. They have free access to their own schoolbox and coloring books, paper, etc. too.

For Bible time they are all required to sit quietly and listen/participate.

The *fun* part is when you have a baby!! This makes things a lot harder (mostly noise-wise). But the baby stage goes by so fast that before we know it the baby will be getting trained and taught our rules also.

So, I don't think it's possible to expect NO interruptions, but it IS possible to eliminate many of them by teaching/training/disciplining our children early on, and providing quiet toys/projects for them. And follow through with your expectations! That's Mom's tough part, being diligent.

With all that I surely don't have it all figured out, and different things work for different people, but I am eager to receive from other's experience and learn better ways of doing things. I had better get one of those recordings of Davids, they sound great!

Last edited by Elissa Baker on Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by momof7 »

Wow! Thanks for all the help and encouragement. It is so nice to find other people who are as excited about homeschooling as I am. My cousin and I were starting to feel weird, being excited about Ancient History books and classical music and cloth diapers.
7 children, ages 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13.
6 yo has CP,
12 yo has LD.
6 boys and 1 girl.
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 6:18 pm
Location: Nevada

Unread post by InfertilityMom »


Our family's much smaller, but I also have 2 little ones to try to keep busy during classtime. The 3 1/2 year old also has her own box of school supplies, basket of crafts and workbooks (someone her gave me the wonderful idea of picking these up at a dollar store), along with puzzles and the preschool Lauri toys. We also have a little play store/kitchen in the corner of the room and she can make meals for her baby dolls or go "shopping" while we are schooling. She's my busy one and there are days she manages to distribute most of the contents of her bedroom or the game shelf all over the house during one school morning, but most days she's content to be included in our school day. Playing classical or instrumental praise music while we work sometimes keeps the room a little calmer, but I often forget to turn it on until the day's over.

The baby sits on my lap and nurses, or is usually content to sit in the saucer or lay on a blanket and watch as during the times I need to be more hands-on. Ruthi also enjoys playing with her "real baby" so the two little ones can sometimes entertain one another for a few minutes if Joshua needs more attention. Jeremiah is just about to start crawling though, so this might add a very interesting new twist to our days! I need to get David's tape - didn't even know that resource existed! :)
Jenni Saake, Nevada
after 10 years and 10 losses:
ds J. born 12/99 and dd R. 1/03, 1850s to Modern Times
ds J-Bear 1/06 finishing up K, looking toward 1st in early 2012
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Keeping active little ones occupied

Unread post by Heidi »

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 1:38 pm
Hang in there.

Here some things I did for my two active little ones.

Year 1 - When I started over three years ago now, my oldest was 6 1/2, my middle child 3 1/2 and my baby almost 8 months. They were just adopted - yes, all of them at once! No one spoke English!

I homeschooled my oldest from pre-school up through end of K work - had not heard of MFW yet - during baby's nap time. When he was up - we did music and Bible time (I made this his special Mommy snuggling time - to this day he snuggles with me during Bible time). I let my very active toddler play underfoot - she joined in with all games and activities. I even let her have "computer time" with jump start toddler, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Dr. Seuss's ABC.

Year 2 - Oldest now 7 1/2, middle 4 1/2, and 1 1/2! Gosh they grew quick!

I had my middle child play with my toddler and have their snack while I did homeschool with my oldest doing MFW-1. Then I reversed this having my oldest play with the toddler having a snack while doing pre-school games, then she started MFW-K half-way through and toys with my middle child.

I will be honest, the first three days of this my toddler cried - he hates change. But, after the first week - he looked forward to playing with his sister then brother - it became their special time. They really bonded through this.

Year 3- Oldest now 8 1/2, middle child 5 1/2 and baby now 2 1/2 - where does the time fly anyway!

This was last year. I repeated the same as year 2 it worked so well for us! Only my oldest did Adventures and my middle did MFW-1 and joined in for Adventures while toddler watched music DVD's - his passion. He absolutely loves ballet and dance - he has watched about 3 versions Nutcracker every week since last year, Romeo & Juliet, The Dream, many classics others like Music Man, Sound of Music, etc. - He has them all memorized too!

Year 4 - this year. Oldest now almost 10, middle child almost 7 and youngest almost 4.

We follow ECC schedule while youngest does "computer time" - with jump start toddler, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Dr. Seuss's ABC, Pre-K toys, and has started on his letters with MFW-K except for all the worksheets (he is delayed in fine motor skills - but advanced elsewise).

Here is how I do both -while middle does Russian - oldest is doing English, then vice versa; while middle does ...

...then, while middle does phonics, older does book basket then vice versa only older does spelling; etc. I do this because my middle daughter is ADHD and requires her own space to get anything done. I also do it, so that I can work with youngest in five-ten minute spurts then let him do it while staying near middle daughter to keep her on task. We do Bible altogether first, then conclude altogether with the geography or science, then music or art (or we are off to OT T and TH).

Right now, we are on "winter break" since I do school in reverse here in FL.

I hope these ideas will help spur your own.

Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:01 pm
What worked really great for us -

While child number #1 is working with you on her individual math and language - have child #2 take a "break" and with your child #3 - your 5 year old - by reading to him, "teaching" him things (the things Toni suggest are great [see below] and child #2 could do this for her little brother) she knows that serve to be reinforcement for her and educational for him, make a snack and play.

Then reverse this and let your child #1 do the same while you do math and language with child #2.
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Unread post by Toni@homezcool4us »

Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 11:39 pm

-Arrange race car patterns (by color, by size, by favorite, etc.)
-Listen to a short story and have him retell in his own words
-sort laundry (by color)
-Label things in the house (give him 10 letter cards and tell him to go through the house and find an object to mark with each card, ie. c=couch, r=radio)
-Require him to sit in on a particular brief lesson. Do you have the COME LOOK WITH ME books? I might require him to do that (he will benefit from beginning to develop the habit of sitting still for brief periods of time)
-Write the numbers 1-12 in an egg carton. Have him put the correct number of beans in each well.
-finger paint with chocolate pudding.
-play with water in the kitchen sink
-educational video and/or game (Primary Games.com has a curriculum guide)

As for the 2yo, I schedule each of my three older to "play" with our 13mo during school time. When I'm working with one student, another is playing with the baby while someone is at book basket, etc.
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How can I make this work?

Unread post by Toni@homezcool4us »

salmy wrote:I have admittedly taken on far too much. All of these choices are important, and I am unable to change any of them! So, I must persevere and find a way to make this work. Here is what I'm up against:
DH has a crazy schedule.
I am HSing DD for K.
I am watching a 2 year old boy M-F 8-2:30.
My own 2 little guys are not quite 3 and just 1.

DD's prime learning time is in the morning around 9. It is CRAZY around here at that time! I can have DS1 sitting at the table with us, but I can not focus on DD. She can not focus on learning.

We have tried doing school in the afternoon, but that has not worked well - she still naps, I wake her up after an hour and she is a pill!!! I am praying for encouragement. I fought for the privilege to HS her. I am confident that HS is the best option for her, but I can't find how to fit it into our day.
A few ideas. My friend used to put her 1yo on independent play time in his crib in two 30 minute time frames. She also used a video for her 3yo while she worked with her older child. You might be able to grab another 30 minutes by giving lunch to the others while you and dd do school, then her lunch could follow.

Btw, my dh has Thursday-Friday off and his schedule changes every 3 months. His most recent start time was 4:30am. Now he has staggered start times. :O
A proud adoptive mom of 4 children,
I invite you to join me THE WISE WOMAN BUILDS HER HOUSE
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Hi Salmy,

Unread post by my3boys »

I do home daycare as well as homeschool - the children are now turning 3, but I've had them since they were 6months old. Every week I have moments of wanting to quit, but like you I have made a commitment to their parents as well as to my husband to watch these kids until they go to school (which will be next year). My oldest ds is in third/fourth grade and my younger 2 are doing K.

For K we have split the day into two parts - circle time and reading lessons. For circle time I include all the youngers and do calendar, 100 chart/number cup, show the flashcard,sing songs and read very simple stories on the theme of the week. We make this time very pre-school friendly - for example for sssun, we sang 'Mister Sun' and 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider' and read simple picture books from the library about the sun (or even just with a sun somewhere in the story) - for moon we read stories about going to bed and played a game where they pretended to go to sleep and wake up again. This time takes 15-20 min.

Then after lunch I put everyone down for a rest time - they watch TV (with pillows and blankets) if they don't nap. This is when I take my K children (one at a time) into the adjoining room and do the reading lesson. I try to keep the lessons really short (like 15m a day) and don't require them to do all the writing.

When they were younger, I would use the highchair/excersaucer/TV/food to keep the little ones occupied for a few minutes - whatever worked at each stage they were at. Another thing that I have found to work is to set up a table outside and school while the others play in the yard - the open space makes it seem less noisy then in the house (we live in Canada though, so I can only do that for about 2 months a year).

Also if my oldest is upset that he is missing out on a movie or something that the others are doing I will give him time to watch it when his school is done. It is difficult though. My oldest ds has just had to learn to work through the chaos around him and my 7yo is doing K with my 5yo because he has been unable to learn amongst all the distraction until now. Just keep in mind that it won't always be like this, as the kids get older it will get easier (and quieter). Also, if you can't get through it this year, it will not hurt your dd to be a year behind her ps peers.
Mom to 3 busy boys ages 11, 8, and 6
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How do you do it?!

Unread post by gratitude »

brinaf wrote:I have a 7 1/2 year old girl and an almost 5 year old boy...and a 3 year old and a 2 year old. is it really hard combining a kindergarten curriculum with the adventures curriculum? And I was thinking about getting the preschool stuff for my two youngest to play around with. Advise? VERY new to this, I know the Lord will not give me more than I can handle...but how do you do it? Thank You!
Hi & Welcome!
I wish I had found MFW for my first curriculum. It has made home schooling so easy, compared to the other curriculums we tried.

I can answer a little on the little ones during school hours (My kids are almost 7, 5, 3, 1).

The CD by David Hazel on Occupying Preschoolers while Homeschooling Older Children was very helpful to me. I listened to it a month ago, and it really helped my attitude. He reminded me that it wasn't as much about keeping them occupied as finding ways to include them in school. Great insight that helped me do a better job with my biggest home school challenge.

The toys MFW sells have been helpful for my ds 5 & dd 3, whose school takes far less time than ds 6. I have found it helps to have a lot of things to rotate. Some of the things they do during school time,, that alternate basically every day, are the following: play with MFW toys, do puzzles at the kitchen table while my oldest does school work, play with other learning toys I have, play with non-learning toys, color, play-do, draw, cut with scissors (they love scissors and cutting / great for fine motor skills too!), play in the backyard (a bit hard since we don't have a fence), play with legos, occupy the baby (once in a great while), and then there are the other type of days where they - need a video because nothing else works, drag all of their toys out of the toy closet, empty the dress up box everywhere, and switch toys every 3 - 5 minutes. On the second type of days they probably need attention, and one day I am sure I will learn to take a break to provide a change of scene. I will add too if I keep their emotional tanks filled, and tummies, school goes much more smoothly than if I fail to give them the time they need and deserve.

Last thing these MFW forums are wonderful. I am learning so much about the curriculum from reading them, and the ladies are so encouraging!
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Occupying Preschoolers, Toddlers, & Babies?

Unread post by lisaha »

gratitude wrote:I listened to David Hazel's CD on occupying preschoolers, toddlers, & babies while teaching a older child (in my case age 7). It helped me a lot to listen to it, especially with my attitude.

Yet I am still wondering: What do you do to occupy preschoolers, toddlers, & babies during school time? It was my biggest home school challenge last school year, and I would love to hear every ones ideas. I want to meet my preschoolers, toddlers & babies needs. I do find it challenging to meet their needs during the hours we do school.
Last year we did Adventures. We had an 8 year old, 6 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old and 1 year old.

would set my 1st and 3rd graders up with math, then change diapers and clothes. I would cuddle and play with them until math was done, then give the older 2 thier LA's and spelling, go back and play with the younger children, setting them up with fun toys and giving them lots of attention, occasionally interrupted with a question or two from the older two. Then I would listen to Abby do her reading, ask her a few questions while Joshua played with the younger 3. Then I would do Joshua's reading and questions with him while Abby played with the younger 3. (Abby often did pre-school activities with James while Toby (3) colored and Levi cuddled next to me and listened to Joshua's reading)

Snack time for all! By then the 1 year old was tired and often went in the swing and we would start Bible, Social and if planned, science. The 2 and 4 year old would bring trucks and tractors in the livingroom and would listen (even asking questions at times! :)) They would run in and out of the room while we did this. The 4 year old often wanted to join in with any fun projects we did in Adventures too. Last we would do any art projects that went with Adventures or music.

We have to do health in MN, so we would either read a book about a health topic, have them run when ants get in their pants and they can't focus, or set up a fun game of soccer, dancing, biking ex... in the late afternoon after quiet/nap time for everyone so I could do house work and exercise from 1-3pm! :)
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Re: Occupying Preschoolers, Toddlers, & Babies?

Unread post by doubleportion »

Just some ideas from our preschool/toddler experience. I got two plastic bins from walmart for book basket library books. When we go to the library I would also be sure to pick out some books for my 3 yr old. The library books and any book basket books we own would go into the children's bins. Then when dd did book basket then ds would get out his book basket books and look through them too.

We included my ds in a number of the activities including music and art. I would simplify the art project so he could glue or color a similar project. I was amazed at what he could do with that glue stick! He loved listening to the music. Now that we are in CTG he still enjoys being included in the art projects and music. He just painted with watercolor the other day along side his sister to the Vivaldi music we are studying.

I purchased the toddler package last year for him. We would work together on some of the toys at first and then later he would ask if he could get them out by himself. I have a small plastic table and chairs in the school room for him to "do school". I have a four drawer plastic rolling cart from Walmart that I placed his preschool toys, zipper bagged items with chunky pencils or crayons in etc. I created the bottom shelf of the school room book shelf with a small drawer set for his puzzles and for his other books that don't go in the book basket. He loves having his own school things and can choose to join us in the school room or play across the hall in his room.

We often save the stuff that needs uninterrupted time with Mom for nap time and try and have dd do independent things or things that everyone can be a part of in the morning. Listening to David speak at convention on that topic Occupying Toddlers etc changed my view point tremendously and encouraged me to include my little guy whenever possible instead of shooing him away. There are still days when dd has to lock herself in her room to get her math done without constant interruptions from her brother 8O But that is life with little ones, which she understands. :)

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Re: Occupying Preschoolers, Toddlers, & Babies?

Unread post by tiffany »

My 3 year old is my most active toddler to date. So school has been interesting for us. Sitting down does not seem to be something he is interested in. :) I am thankful he is still napping! My kids take turns playing with him. (translate- protecting him from harm and keeping our house from destruction.) We have frequent makeup and toiletry messes. This partly comes from having a teenage daughter as well. Also, he is an escape artist. He will try to leave the house and can undo all the locks now. I do miss him during the school day though and would like to find ways to keep him near me during a portion of the day.

I do still rock him at nap and bedtime so we get our cuddle time in, but he doesn't enjoy reading books and doing puzzles together like he used to. He does like moving, so I might need to get up and dance to a Wiggles video with him or put on some of our old Kindermusik CD's. I always like to hear how others manage this.
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Re: Occupying Preschoolers, Toddlers, & Babies?

Unread post by gratitude »

These answers so far are helpful! I hope to hear even more stories & ideas. It helps me to think through the multi-age school at home.

I started off with my first real go at curriculum last August and was amazed. I realized quickly that my thought of home schooling as 'tutor' time wasn't going to work. I also realized all of my years of teaching piano to kids one - on - one with their moms helping siblings was a luxury. I think I was wanting to 'tutor' for homeschooling. Between David's CD & these posts I am realizing that I really have a four kid school, and 2 of them are too young for school! My response is Help. Truthfully though I really want to be able to help all of my kids reach their potentials, and give each of my younger kids enough cuddle time (well all of them, my ds 7 still wants time cuddling too, but my little ones 'really' need it).

I obviously need to encourage more independent school time for my oldest two, and focus more on my younger two. I have come a long ways since last September, but still have a ways to go. I do include the older 3 in science & art projects. The LA / math time was getting better at the end of the year. It seems after a few days of it though the 5 & 3 are ready for the structured learning time to end.

When they are all school age I can see that I will be able to put in my mind the idea of a one room school house. For now though I really do want them all to benefit from the joys of home schooling, and its advantages.

I guess a side note in my situation is the two boys energy levels are challenging with or without homeschooling. What do others do to help their boys channel all that wonderful energy?

I look forward to any more ideas & stories others may have.
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Re: Occupying Preschoolers, Toddlers, & Babies?

Unread post by lisaha »

I have a very energetic boy who is 7! (Also one who is 3, but he doesn't do books work yet! :))

For my 7 year old, I keep his writing work short. We do more oral anwsers with him, but still incorperate writing, but last year at 6 he did 1 too 2 sectences at a time or he would be mentally not there anymore! LOL! With math, I would assign one math page a day, if it was a longer lesson, I would assign 1/2 of it, telling him if he gets it all right he could skip the other half, but if he got some wrong he would have to do the whole page! This worked WONDERS! :) I'm going to use some dry erase boards with colored markers to shake up his math facts some! :)

I also have a snack break mid morning, and if he is not working fast enough bc he was goofing off, then he misses snack break bc he needed that time to get caught up (he learned fast to pay attention bc I stuck with it!)

When he is mentally out to lunch, it's time for him to go run up and down the hallway, around the basement or to the mailbox to get the mail, this works well! :) Sometimes it's just time to put something away until daddy gets home to help and move onto another subject. It's ok if he is hopping around while he reads and skipping around the room while he is narrating as long as he is doing the work! :)
Lisa M
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Re: Occupying Preschoolers, Toddlers, & Babies?

Unread post by Lisa M »

It seems like forever ago, but really it was only 6-8 years ago that I had really little ones. So here's a few quick ideas that I used off and on:

I had a general "schedule" for babies and toddlers that included quiet time - as much as 1 hour twice a day. I would schedule school time around this (kids learned to stay on a blanket or in a playpen/crib with items if four corners of their spot. They would play with, read, rest with these items.) This is balanced with interactive, very busy, running around times.

I had an older sibling take a turn reading to the busy toddler.

I used pre-bagged activities that didn't necessarily have to be "educational", such as dark paper and construction paper crayons: a simple outline coloring page with some black paper, clothes pins, a towel, and toothpicks (they poke holes in the outline to create a hole punched picture for their window), beads and string, lace up cards, etc. Basically, anything that they thought was special and fun and might keep their interest for 5-15 minutes. A favorite was a 32oz yogurt container and lid, with a slot cut in to it. We had a broken game of "Connect Four", so I used the checkers to go into the slot. They LOVED plopping those checkers into that container!

Another fun one was home made goop in a double bagged ziplock baggie. The goop was just flour, water, and food coloring until it made a soft paste they could write in with their finger.

Finally, keep in mind how truly LITTLE school you need to do with a first or second grader. So don't over do the school. There is plenty of time to fill in the holes later.

I also wish I had learned early on that I am a mother of four children, I live rural and spend much time driving to activities, and I will NOT be able to do the most perfect, teacher based curriculums out there, because there is only one me, many children, and limited time. An only child or family with two kids can put much more individual tutoring time into their homeschool. I finally learned that I can't, and my children are gaining other beneficial attributes by being in a larger family. God will work his plan for my children in spite of me:-)
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Re: Occupying Preschoolers, Toddlers, & Babies?

Unread post by gratitude »

lisaha wrote:I have a very energetic boy who is 7! (Also one who is 3, but he doesn't do books work yet! :))
Oh Thank you! Yes, my days are very much the same! I need to implement some of your great ideas to make them smoother. You do know what I am talking about. 10 a.m. is often the moment the only word I can say is, "shoes". Everyone knows this means time for the backyard and the swings. By 10 he has already been cooped up too long. I can not even begin to imagine what a school building would do to his imagination, ideas, & energy that God Blessed him with. It doesn't make school easy though. :)
Lisa M wrote:I also wish I had learned early on that I am a mother of four children, I live rural and spend much time driving to activities, and I will NOT be able to do the most perfect, teacher based curriculums out there, because there is only one me, many children, and limited time. An only child or family with two kids can put much more individual tutoring time into their homeschool. I finally learned that I can't, and my children are gaining other beneficial attributes by being in a larger family. God will work his plan for my children in spite of me:-)
Thank you Lisa! I really needed to hear this (quote above). I grew up as an 'onlie', and I wanted my kids to have the joy of siblings. The truth of what you are saying is only beginning to dawn on me. Thank you!
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Re: Occupying Preschoolers, Toddlers, & Babies?

Unread post by trinabambina »

I have an 8yo dd in ECC, a 6yo very active boy and a 5yo very demanding boy....makes for some very interesting days of school, let me tell you!!

Something that I have been doing with the boys that seems to be working well so far...I made up index cards using simple words/colors that the boys can read/understand. All of the cards that they need to do with me are in purple (my fave color), and then one boy's cards are written in orange, one in green. My 6 yo keeps his cards in a file box, though I am pretty tired of cleaning it up every time he spills it, so we may need to find another solution; the 5 yo keeps his in a pocket notebook where I also put pages from the cuisinaire book or other pages that I want him to do with me.

The cards have the boys school work written on them: Math with Mommy, Reading with Mommy, book basket, game, puzzle. art, etc....The boys get to choose what they want to do next, except for the Mommy cards, which I call them for, when I have a break with one of the other kids. We are trying to learn that when Mommy is working with someone, then we need to do our next card and not to interrupt...it is slow coming, but I am seeing that they are starting to get it. When they finish the card then they turn it over so they know it is done.

We all do Bible, science and history together as well as the read-alouds - really, anything that I can make work for everyone, I do.

Hope this helps! Really, just remember to pray and ask God to show you what HE wants you to do with your kiddos on that day...it seems too simple, but it works!! Fancy that!
Last edited by trinabambina on Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Occupying Preschoolers, Toddlers, & Babies?

Unread post by gratitude »

trinabambina wrote: Hope this helps! Really, just remember to pray and ask God to show you what HE wants you to do with your kiddos on that day...it seems to simple, but it works!! Fancy that!
What a great reminder to lean on God, and not on my own understanding! He led us to MFW, and it is exactly what my kids needed. I am sure you are right that He also knows what they need each day, and each moment. I think I will remember to pray and ask Him what they need today. Thank you.
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Day 1 = Good, Day 2 = Okay, Day 3 = almost disaster

Unread post by jasntas »

Mom2theteam wrote:Well, we started our MFW K on Monday. I knew there would be days it would be challenging with the other kids. The oldest is just over 5 and he has 4 younger siblings. He and the almost 3 year old twins do everything together. So, figuring out how to get them to do something else while I teach him is going to be tricky. I plan to have them sit in as much as they can. My plan is to have school during the 7mos old twin's morning nap, 9:30-11am. Anyway, so Monday went really well. The kids all did well. Yesterday, not as good, but still fine. Today, not so well. :~

The toddlers didn't sit well at all. Right away they started wiggling, climbing on the table (which isn't allowed anyway), getting up, and just generally disrupting. I quickly went through the Bible portion of the Creation lesson and moved onto coloring the number. Of course, they all wanted the same crayons out of the bin, the ones with Spiderman on the wrapper. Those will be disappearing since they couldn't share them. ;) After that was over, I proceeded to teach the ABC portion of the lesson to the 5 year old. I laid out 2 separate beach towels on the floor and set the 2 year olds up with some Lauri toys on their towels to keep them occupied. Of course, they soon started "Mommy, help," "He took my toy," and on it went. They didn't stay on their towels. One of them had an accident. And then of course, there was my 5 year old. He did pretty well, but feels left out when he doesn't get to play with the "toys." :~ Sometime during this, my 7 month olds woke early from naps. They were content in their cribs for a few minutes, but then started crying. It was one thing after another with the other 3 and the 7 mos olds had to cry for a few minutes and I felt badly. (But, that isn't uncommon. When you have 5 kids 5 and under, sometimes they have to wait.) We did end up finishing the lesson, but it was hectic. I was seriously feeling stressed by the end of it and I put a movie on for the kids. :~

I know I shouldn't be feeling discouraged over one day, but I am. It is just so tough to get anything done with 5 kids 5 and under. But, I'm going to keep plugging along. Like everything else, I know it will take time to teach them how to act and what is expected. This is what I want. This is what I feel God is calling us to. We need the structure and I think my older son is ready to learn in a more structured way. I want the toddlers to learn to sit and play quietly by themselves. It's one of the reasons I think this will be great for them. So, tomorrow is a new day. We will keep going because anything worth doing takes effort and my kids are worth it. I'm off to read about occupying preschoolers in the archives. If anyone has any words of encouragement or advice I would greatly appreciate it.
Just a quick note.

Hang in there. It will take some time to get into a routine. It's an adjustment for ALL of you. It takes me about a month to get into a routine after summer break with only 2 (and no toddlers or babies). We take Marie's advice and add subjects in a little at a time. Since it's K, maybe only do school 2 to 3 days a week and work up from there.

I'll pray for direction for you. Take care. HTH
Tammie - Wife to James for 27 years
Mom to Justin (15) and Carissa (12)
ADV & K 2009-2010 . . . RTR (again) & WHL 2016-2017
The days of a mother are long but the years are short.

Re: Day 1 = Good, Day 2 = Okay, Day 3 = almost disaster

Unread post by cbollin »

I see you're off to read the preschool archives....

Sounds normal to me. I like how David Hazell describes it in his seminar about Occupying Toddlers:

School day #1 is the worst day in the preschoolers life. Fun Mommy is gone.

anyway, if you haven't heard his talk, buy the CD from MFW, or there are ways to hear it via online stream...
I think this works? take the hour to listen to it..... it will encourage you. it is a very good version of the talk and David was rockin' that day.
be prepared to laugh hard in the first few minutes.

well, all teachers go through days like this and yes, it is part of the normal learning curve both for students and teachers.

some simple tips? it won't solve everything....
If your budget allows, get each child his/her own set of cool school supplies. Somethings don't have to be shared and that is one that isn't worth the battle in my personal opinion.

I found it helpful to start your attention with teaching the Preschoolers. allow the Kindy kid to play with them during that time. then, the little ones have had their mommy time tank filled for 10-15 minutes and the older one might be more willing to do stuff with you and let the other ones have their stuff for a bit.
in my house, it helped me

start everyone with a song/prayer/circle time. the wee sing cd is good for this. (yes, even my oldest who is 6 years older than youngest!)
do a story with everyone
play time

maybe the little ones wonder off a bit or climb the table (mine did that)
work a little bit with Kindy kid

set a timer for 15-20 minutes and let 3 y.o know that everyone will work with their ABC's now.....
oldest in the MFW K and can listen in
then others can have their lace and link letters

you'll do great as you find the way that structure and security and new routines fit in your life.
and be forewarned.... it changes. :)

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Re: Day 1 = Good, Day 2 = Okay, Day 3 = almost disaster

Unread post by TriciaMR »


{Hugs} Sorry for the rough day... Even my 6 yo boys have trouble playing "quietly" some days when I'm working with my oldest... You wouldn't believe how often they still get sent to their room to quiet down. (No toys allowed in the room, just books.)

It is tough to teach twins they don't have to be doing the exact same thing as the other, or have the exact same toy, but eventually they get it... most days... You might tell your 5 yo that after you are finished, he'll get 20 minutes to play with the toddler toys. My oldest (who is 10) loves sitting in on some of the 1st grade stuff, even now, because we did a different 1st grade program. So, I let her play with the pattern blocks, and look at the Come Look With Me books and listen in on the music.

My guys were (are still) small for their age, so we were able to use pack-n-plays for quite a while (and they weren't climbers, either - whew!), but I know not everyone can or likes to use those, but if it is an option for you to get 20 minutes of constructive time... Also, make sure you spend time with the 3 yo's before you do time with your 5 yo. Do an activity with them or read a story to them, so maybe the won't demand so much of you once you focus on the 5yo.

And I won't tell you how many times I've had to stop and clean up a bathroom because someone "missed"... Talk about adding to your day and disrupting your teaching. (Glad my husband was able to put tile down in the bathrooms before we got to that point...)

Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
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Re: Day 1 = Good, Day 2 = Okay, Day 3 = almost disaster

Unread post by gratitude »

Encouragement.. Encouragement... Encouragement!!

You will get through this season of life. It does get easier, even though I am the first to say I still want it to go even more smoothly! ;)

My kids are 7 (1st),5 (K),3, & 1. There was a season when I had 4 kids 5 & under so I have an idea of what your day was like today. It sounds about right though for a third day of something new with young children; especially home schooling. The good news is they will learn how to do this with time. :)

It gets easier as the oldest is able to do more, and more independently. The first 6 weeks of my oldest being 5 I tried to do 5 days of school for 1 -2 hours a day. Ambitious. Disastrous.

When my second turned 5 I started doing MFW K 3 days a week, then 4, now 5 mostly. I am taking it really slowly. If it takes 1 1/2 years it is OK with me. I do about 20 minutes a day at the most. I stretch out the assignments. I am amazed though at this rate we may actually complete it in one year with 2 months off last summer.

So the things my 5, 3, & 1 year old do during my oldest school time:
1. The best is when they play together. I teach my ds5 when my oldest is doing his bible notebook (drawing) and math assignment independently. Will the 3 year olds play together?
2. My 1 year old is usually down for nap, except for Bible time, when she is usually on my lap or nearby crawling.
3. Puzzles are great at the same table.
4. Drawing is great at the same table.
5. Lauri toys usually work about once a month for a week.
6. Snack time is great for all 3 of the youngest during my oldest school time at the same table.
7. Play-doh at the same table is great.
8. Do you see a theme? Anything I can get them to do at the same table helps a lot. Then they feel like they are part of school. Of course for reading out-loud & Bible they are on the couch next to me or on my lap. For science or hands on activities the oldest 3 participate. For the first 10 days of K I did copy the numbers and such and had all 3 of my oldest do it so everyone felt a part of it.

Now when my oldest was 6 it was a bit harder, but I used the same ideas above.
When my oldest was 5 we truthfully ended up not doing much more than math that year. I had too many young kids. I also read A LOT of Bible to him from A Beka that year. School that year was during youngest nap time and in the evening when dad was home. It was still a lot like life had been prior to age 5; most of our time outside.

God Called Me to this too! It is a big plus that you have that conviction. It helped me immensely in setting us up. It took time. It took a lot of time. I think of the first year of home schooling being a lot about learning how to integrate a new type of learning into our home. Once I learned to take it very slowly and to integrate the idea slowly and take a lot of months to move into daily seat work it went a lot better.

The hardest part for me has been the fact my oldest is very bright. He started figuring out reading on his own at age 3. Due to the number of young ones I still don't feel like I have had the time or energy to fully help him meet his potential. He is currently figuring out multiplication on his own and negative numbers while I teach the first part Singapore 1B. I don't want him though to miss any steps in the foundation. Yet I keep reminding myself that as I turn my curriculum over to God daily he is helping me take it slowly enough that it works. Peace in our home school and character and attitude and Bible seems more important then anything else. I also keep reminding myself that we have plenty of time, and the older he becomes the more he is able to do, and the more I am able to help him start to reach his potential. My second could also do more academically intellectually but not emotionally. 20 minutes a day is perfect, he can't always even do that much at age 5.

I hope something I said was encouraging. It will get easier. I wish I had remembered, and would still remember, how much my kids still need so much other types of learning and exercise outside of academics. I am constantly working on my own attitude with all of this, and finding balance. After all they are still young kids and need A LOT of play time and outdoor time and mommy hugs and kisses and everything else like that.

God Bless you! You can DO IT!! :-)
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Re: Day 1 = Good, Day 2 = Okay, Day 3 = almost disaster

Unread post by mamacastle2 »

((Hugs)) Blessings and prayers, too. I don't have 5 under 5, but I have 3 under 5 and I know it's hard. It's stressful and aggravating and downright horrible at times. (Just being honest here.) But the *good* news is it's also fun and silly and downright heartwarming at times. So it's okay to feel discouraged over a bad day. Something that keeps me going: an afternoon rest after lunch where I lie down with my 2yo and 4 month old. I know you're doing work during the little ones' downtime, so you've seriously gotta find some downtime for yourself to regroup. Sometimes I make myself an ice coffee or a hot cup of tea and just de-stress that way, which might work better for you since your kiddos are too young to be unsupervised for a half hour's rest.

I'm thankful that I live in south Florida because I can school outside for most of the year. Right now it's absolutely beautiful here, perfect backyard playground weather. So my little kiddos can be outside with all their energy while my older ones sit on the porch or on the picnic table and do some stuff. I always found it hard to just give my kids the Lauri toys and expect them to play by themselves. That works for 5 minutes, then it's "Mommy this" and "Mommy that" and I can't teach and play and referee and discipline all at the same time all the time. I use the Lauri toys for preschool time where I play with the preschoolers, not for time where they play by themselves. You might try to pour a half hour's time into the 3yo's first with preschool time. Play with them, do puzzles with them, read specific books to them, play playdough, ring around the rosie, London Bridge, etc. Of course, the 5yo will play along and probably the 7mo's too, but let the 3yo's know this is "their" special preschool time. (I do this with my 2yo, and last year with my then 3yo, and plan to do it again next year with my will be 1.5 yo.) I try to pour out this specific time for them and stress how it is their time. Then after that fun time, they are expected to play by themselves for a short amount of time. I've used 1/2 hour of computer time, 1/2 hour TV (not every day), Legos, markers, a blow-up dollar store pool with beans and sand toys or with playdough ("You can't leave the pool!"), stamps, stickers, magnets, small plastic animals, etc. I try to mix it up every day so it is new and fun, and I'm also pretty keen on putting these toys out of reach so they can't just up and play with them by themselves, so they are new and fun every time they use them. If it's possible, you might even try leaving them in their own room in your sight but not right on top of you and your 5yo. (For example, I can sit at the kitchen table with my 2yo in the family room in direct sight but not in the same room.) Do the things with the 5yo that need specific one-on-one time then. Then try and do the other stuff with the 5yo and the 3yo's that don't require the specific one-on-one time. I find that if I put my 2yo on my lap and give him the same worksheet as my 4yo's kindergarten sheet and a pen or a pencil, he'll be quiet enough to let us get through it. I also give him scissors and paper and just let him cut and glue construction paper to his heart's content while we're going over letter sounds and such.

Of course, if your 3yo's are able to give you 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted time with your 5yo, be sure to reward everyone with snack and physical activity. Maybe a good hide-and-seek or game of tag inside if you can't go outside because of weather. Doing school is a change and it's going to take some adjustment time. But I can promise you that it gets easier every year, even if you keep having kids. In a few years, you'll be an expert and schooling with babies and toddlers in the midst. I've never not schooled with a toddler and a baby in the mix, because every time my baby grew into a toddler, I had another baby. So I've had school age, toddler/preschooler, baby since I started. But it's just my norm and what I'm used to and what I've done so it's not a big adjustment any more. It was definitely harder when my oldest was in Kindergarten than it is now with my oldest 2 in 4th and 2nd.

Anyway, I hope something I've written helps. I'll be praying for you as I go about my day tomorrow.

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Mother to DD 10, DS 7, DD 5, DS 3, DD 1
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Re: Day 1 = Good, Day 2 = Okay, Day 3 = almost disaster

Unread post by Mom2theteam »

Thanks everyone for the encouraging words and ideas and especially the prayers. The whole day today ended up being "just one of those days." I'm glad it's over. ;) I'm definitely going to try some of the ideas you ladies mentioned. Tomorrow, we will do preschool stuff first for sure.

Trish, funny you mention the pack and play and small kids. We use exersaucers for containment way past the age limit. Yup, my kids are all really small. The biggest tops out in the 5th percentile. :-) I have no problem with using pack and plays. I think containment is key to safety and sanity in my house. LOL. However, my twins have been able to climb over or out of anything since before they were two. It's made life interesting with nap and bed times. But, we had a gated playroom before me moved a couple months ago. I think I might have my husband put the gate up at the playroom here. It's been a while since I gated them in. We'll see. It's definitely an idea.

Thanks for all the reassurances that this is normal. Even though I figured it was, it's still nice to hear. I have David Hazell's CD. I bought the whole set with my K package. I have listened to one of them and want to listen to that one next. I just don't have much time without kids around to focus on it. I'm going to make that a priority though.

We will keep working at it. I'll experiment with different routines and figure out what works best for us. I'll try not to stress if things don't go as planned. I do have another question though, what if you just don't get it done that day? When do you make it up? Or do you not bother "catching" up and just go forward from there?
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Re: Day 1 = Good, Day 2 = Okay, Day 3 = almost disaster

Unread post by TriciaMR »


I would just do it the next day at this stage. I wouldn't try to double up or catch up. You may eventually have a day where the little ones nap the full time, and the 3 yo's play nice, and the 5 yo can handle 10 more minutes. But really, it's just one day at this point.

Oh yeah, we have a sunken living room with a railing dividing it from the formal dining room. We put a gate up across the opening between the two. I could see and hear the little guys, but be working with the oldest. (Formal dining room, and now sunken living room are the school room.) That was a sanity saver, for sure.

(You know, I want to say Debra Bell wrote in her book that she gated her youngest in her pantry - she could see her in the kitchen, but also knew she was safe.)

Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
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2016-2017 - EXP1850, US1877
2017-2018 - DE, 1850MOD
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