Trying to figure out how to occupy two little ones while trying to get almost anything done around the house is a challenge! Rarely do we find an activity or a task which occupies a toddler’s attention for more than a few minutes at a time. But oh, when we do find something! It is such a blessing to our entire family. I thought I would share some of the simple things I am doing currently to “do” preschool planning while we are also doing homeschool.
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I am not a fan of worksheets. I don’t really give them to my kids, even my elementary age kids. In fact, my kids probably would like them more than I do, if I would dole them out. But reliance on worksheets to keep little hands busy, especially preschool hands busy, is just not worth my time and effort. Two to five minutes of attention is not what I am looking for when I am looking for an activity for my little ones.
Thus, I have created a collection of go-to activities. They only come out at specific times and for specific purposes. Every family is different, but these are the things that work for us.
- Melissa and Doug clock
- Story blocks
- simple building blocks (soft blocks, geometric, Mega)
- tees and something to hammer them into and/or balls to balance on them
- teddy bear manipulatives and a hundred number chart
- pattern blocks
- kitchen toys (these have lasted through 4 little ones)
My distaste for worksheets does not mean I do not use printable materials. In fact, I have found there are a couple of go-to bloggers that make it possible for me to keep my kids occupied happily. These are the ones I look forward to seeing in my inbox. I always check out their emails because they are always coming up with WONDERFUL activities for my entire brood.
By the way, I use all the printables I get from these sources in two primary ways:
- I laminate them and use them again and again (more of my homeschool printing hacks can be found here). OR
- I slide them into this writing station. I used this more with my (now older) girls who were more interested in writing than my current flock of preschoolers. It will again have a prominent place in our preschool because it cuts down on paper usage while giving them practice in scribbling.
A Dedicated Preschool Time
This is the hardest part to figure out when homeschooling elementary aged (or older) kids alongside preschoolers. And this is the place where I struggle the most. Lately, my dedicated preschool time is what I am calling “Naptime Preschool.” I am going to be writing more about what I am put into naptime preschool soon, but as a general outline it has 3 components:
- a dedicated one-on-one time with mama and kid
- a super short allotment of time
- age- and stage-appropriate content
If there is one thing that is true of almost every preschooler I have met it is this: they want to do what the big kids are doing! They want attention in the same measure the big kids are getting. And they want to be involved!
We try our best to include the little ones in our homeschool in the places where it is appropriate. Our little ones are interested, especially in our poetry and Bible study times in the day. During those times, they are encouraged to answer questions, sing songs with us, “recite” poetry, take turns. All the things the big kids do, they get to do, too.
Since our homeschool tends to be literature-intensive, we read aloud A LOT! We do a rotation schedule in our homeschool routine, so I make sure our little ones are part of that rotation. I make sure they get time with great picture books and board books during the course of our homeschooling day. Our homeschool readers (age 7 and 8, currently) are also a big help in this as they are always willing to read with their younger siblings.
There is one more thing I am doing with our little ones that is working. We are doing LONG topical units using preschool Gathering placemats I make for each unit. As we work through units, I will make them available to you.
But we do have a FREE set of Preschool Gathering placemats for you now. Start implementing the simplest of preschool activities using our Gathering placemats and you will hopefully see the joy in your little ones’ eyes as they have a dedicated preschool time with you.
You can get the FREE set when you subscribe to our Saturday Stroll emails. Which you can do right here:
Real Life Means This
Back in the halcyon days of only two kids and a little bit more energy, I wrote somewhat extensively about our preschool days. Those posts can be found here on this site under the heading Growing Up >. I wrote back then about Baby Days, One Year Old Preschool, Tot School For Twos, and more!
My dream has always been to get back to those posts and update. To add more to them. But life with 4 little ones has me busier than all those dreams. I currently find myself in the trenches on a daily basis, trying to make this household run smoothly. That doesn’t always lead to being able to write about how we make it go.
If you are looking for more ideas about how we make sure our little ones are occupied and happy during our homeschooling, please follow me on Instagram or Facebook. There, I try to give the ideas as they come to me in social-media sized bites.