Updated: Jul 18, 2018
We have five busy boys in our home. Two of them are doing preschool with mommy. Preschool is my absolute favorite age to school! I love, love teaching the fundamentals. Preschool really is a time of wonder! It's the time when we see our littles transition from needing us for everything to becoming confident, capable little people with their own ideas and thoughts about themselves and the world around them. I love this stage of development.
Watching my babies learn to do some things for themselves is awesome! Much of this is innate. They will learn things like walking or sitting up without much assistance because they were created to do so. On the other hand, some things are only truly learned through exposure to these topics. The Alphabet is one of those things. My two year old will not learn his abc's without being exposed to the concept of letters. My four year old will not learn to read fluently without learning that each letter makes a sound. So, I endeavor to expose my preschoolers to these and many other relevant topics through our homeschool.
Learning Truly Is Fun!
I love school and learning. I love getting the supplies together, writing my boys names on their school name plate, preparing their school boxes and setting up their learning areas. Making worksheets and coloring pages and selecting our school books is a source of joy for me. Planning what we will learn for the school year and how I want to teach it to my little ones is one of the best parts of homeschooling to me. I know what some of you may be thinking. Can you homeschool preschoolers? Yes, you can! Preschool is a very important process in developing a solid learning foundation. When we begin this process at home, we are homeschooling.
This year I am also homeschooling my nephew for preschool. He is such a cute little guy and a delight to have join our boys in our homeschooling adventures. So, I now have three preschoolers, a first grader and a third grader in our homeschool. It's great to see them learning and having fun together. I've created a schedule I use 4 days of the week to school the preschoolers. I am the type that likes to have structure, but still needs the freedom to switch it up when I feel the need to. I write our curriculum and am sure to include the areas I feel are most important right now for the little guys. The boys are 2.5, 4 and 5 next month. I sometimes include the other boys in lessons that teach topics relevant to them. Teaching them together has been a pretty effective way to make the most of our teaching time.
Here are some tips to help teach multiple littles while doing preschool at home:
I have embraced a layered learning approach to schooling. The boys have a range of mastery level of some of the learning topics we cover. To still include all of them in a lesson, I introduce the topic for the one who still needs work in a specific area, then have those who have mastered the basic level take the next learning step. For example, we love playing Alphabet Bingo in our school. I will play the game with the preschoolers with different expectations to actually earn their points. The two year old will have to name the letter, the four year old will have to name the letter and the sound. When we include the older boys, the five year old will have to name the letter, the sound and a word that starts with that letter. The seven year old will have to give the name, sound, word that starts with that letter and use the word in a sentence. This way, each of the boys are playing and learning at the same time. We are practicing the information we learned in our lessons in a fun way. The boys love it. Now, I have to admit, this makes our Alphabet bingo games last a while. And, it's well worth every minute. The knowledge the little ones are soaking up from the big boys is creating a well they will draw from now and in their future learning. This layered learning approach can be applied to any subject in your preschool teachings.
#2-Use Children's Books As A Part Of Our Curriculum
The boys really enjoy story time. We have story time every day during our preschool learning. We will read books from our home library and from the local libraries. We go to the library and pick out books to read once a week. For us, Library day is scheduled on Tuesdays. I direct them to the section they can choose from and each little picks one or two books for the week. We used to pick out crazy amounts of books for the week. This inevitably lead me to engage in a book hunt every time we headed back to the library. It got so bad I had so many fines for late returns because no one knew where their books were. They love to pick up their books and "read" around the house. Unfortunately, I had to put a stop to this. They can pick up to two books and they MUST remain in our homeschool room. I put some books from our homeschool library in their bedrooms so they can still grab a book and read whenever they want. I'm happy to report that we have no late fees and all books are accounted for with this method. :)
We read each book together during school time. I create learning sessions while reading each book. We can stay on one book for up to 30 minutes if it has a lot of preschool learning areas. Each page is a new learning adventure. During story time I use the children's books to address such topics as, numbers, letters, sounds of things (letters, animals, cars/trucks, etc.), colors, shapes, counting, sequencing, rhyming, predicting, comprehension, memorization, spatial reasoning, civility, sharing, habitats, life cycles, favorite things, etc. The boys are actively engaged in the learning process and loving it. Story time is my favorite time of our school day.
#3- Self-paced Learning
None of the boys have learned the same information at the same time during any of our school years. The boys are different in many ways, including their learning pace and styles. With the older two boys, I used to expect the 5.5 year old to learn what the 7 year old learned when he was a specific age. I quickly realized that they have different aptitudes for different subjects. Once I learned this with the older two, it has been so much more fun to teach the younger ones. I am not holding them up to Isaac or Levi's learning timetable. They each have their own and that is how it should be for any healthy learning environment. I learn what each child likes and use that area to get them excited about school. Allowing them the freedom to grow as God designed for them is such a place of peace for all of us.
I looove children's educational videos for the boys. I know some people are not keen on using technology with little ones. I have found it to be a very effective tool in our preschool learning. I incorporate at least two children's educational videos in each school day. I usually show under 5 minutes of each video during the school day. This is probably the boys favorite part of the day. They love the songs! They end up singing them well after we have finished our classroom learning time. The boys want to watch the videos over and over. This repetition is so important for mastery of some topics. And, it is presented in an entertaining manner that hold's the boys attention. My favorite children's educational videos are the Leap Frog videos. The have a Letter Factory one that teaches letter sounds. This video was a popular request in our house last summer. I got it from the library and renewed it as long as I could. This video is the reason my 4 and 5.5 year olds know their letter sounds. I'm thinking about just buying some of them. Barney is another favorite. Some people cringe at the name, but don't knock it if it works. It does work. The videos teach on a variety of preschool learning areas we cover in our preschool learning time.
YouTube has some really awesome channels I have subscribed to as a supplement to our curriculum. Have Fun Teaching, Simple Songs, The Learning Station and ABC KidsTV are wonderful resources for short videos that teach preschool topics. I let the boys watch educational children's TV shows when they want some TV time. Word World, Leap Frog, Super Why, Octonauts, Wild Kratts, Sherriff Callie, Daniel Tigers Neighborhood and Sid the Science Kid are my go to shows for them. Each of these shows has a specific area that enhances what I teach them during school time.
#5-Small Teaching Blocks With Lots of Playtime
The little guys can only stay focused for so long before they need to play. It is wired into them to have that playtime. I make sure to give lots of play breaks from focused learning times. Our school room has their academic books and toys. I really do not have much trouble getting the little ones to focus for the 30 minute teaching blocks because they know play time is coming up. They learn a lot through play itself so I encourage them to go play. I was shocked the first few times one or all of them decided to keep working on the lesson instead of going to the toy bins. What I discovered was that our lesson times are also play times to them as well. They actually have fun during school. I was giddy inside! It is like one of the best feelings in the world to know your babies want to learn. They even ask to do school lessons when our school day is over, on the weekends, when I'm cleaning or trying to get a nap! I will tell them to grab a book and read that wherever we are instead of going to the school room and pulling out a lesson. It usually satisfies the craving for time with mommy and school time.
Oscar working on his ABC's.