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Old 07-01-2013, 10:10 AM   #1
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How do you homeschool with a busy house

After being really unimpressed by my kids last few years of school I am taking a hard look at homeschooling.

My kids do really well one on one.
The problem I can't work out is that I have 4 kids 18 mos - 8 years.
Please tell me how your day looks.


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Old 07-01-2013, 10:57 AM   #2
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Re: How do you homeschool with a busy house

It looks a bit like chaos at the moment. I will say that homeschooling with an 18 mo old is pretty much always going to look like chaos. We're at a point right now that we could establish a solid routine and stick to it pretty well with my youngest being almost 3 but once Lilah is here and gets to be about 12 mo I KNOW that it will go to a bit of chaos again. Toddlers in my experience are quite unstoppable. But don't let that discourage you.

First I encourage my oldest - who is doing 3rd grade this year and will be 8 in October - to do as much as possible independently. He can do his grammar and math on his own and comes to me for maybe one or two questions a day on these. He also does his reading on his own. Sometimes I make his reading cover history/social studies/science topics and so he does a lot of that on his own as well.

My first grader needs a little more of my attention but he and I can finish his school work in about 1.5hrs. The kindy and preschooler work alongside us so I can monitor what they're doing. I bought them each their own math workbooks this year so they do a couple of pages of that and then if I am not at a point where I can move them into another activity they get out these giant generic preschool workbooks I bought years ago and are free to color, doodle, etc in those - and they feel like they are doing school. That is the important part.

I keep trying to figure out what would be the ideal routine to our school days but so far no two days look the same. One day we work at the dining room table, the next we're sprawled all over the living room. It does NOT ever look like a traditional school day though. That much is absolutely certain. Some days we start at 8:30 and we're done by 10 and others we start at 2 and finish at 4:30. As long as it gets done I'm not terribly picky on when.
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:44 AM   #3
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Re: How do you homeschool with a busy house

For kids your kids' ages, school can be very relaxed. I would put some focus on math and langauge arts (be it learning to read for those that need that or moving into grammar and spelling for those who read well). I would pick a fairly simple history and science for all the kids to be combined in... even those too little for school can sit in and listen to a story.

For the littlest one, many moms find that if they have a box of toys/activities that only come out during school time it occupies them and they are able to work with the olders with a little less distraction. Activities in a bag are good ideas as well (google them.. like preschool activities in a bag). Often things like play-doh, do a dots, coloring pages, shape patterns, etc will occupy them and give you some time. Also if you aren't completely opposed to the idea.. the TV can be your best friend. There are always educational programs on during the day.. PBS, NickJR, DisneyJR, and videos like LeapFrog will entertain the littles and sneak in some learning for them besides.

One thing to keep in mind, homeschooling does not have to look like school.. my kids learn best when it doesn't look at all like school.
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:26 PM   #4
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Re: How do you homeschool with a busy house

This was my first year, so I am not the most experienced, but I had two younger non school aged kids running around to occupy. For the most part, I tried to have some things that my 3 (now 4) year old could do that were similar to my 5 (now 6) year old. Coloring pages, easy handwriting pages, the $1 workbooks from Target, plus play doh, markers and paper, and library books kept her busy. For my 2 year old, I let him do some of the same things. He liked sitting on my lap or climbing up my back while Ava did school. He just wanted to see what was going on. It was a bit of an adjustment, but he learned to wait and not interrupt. Once Ava was settled with what she was doing, if she seemed to be getting frustrated with her younger siblings' interruptions, I would let her go sit in a different room to do her work. If they were playing in the living room, she could go to the kitchen. I also tried to get most of our work done while Sesame Street was on. School really doesn't take as long as you might think...45 minutes was about it per day for us. I think it will be a bit longer this year, but probably only by 20 or 30 minutes.

Anyway, your kids will certainly adjust and you will be able to figure out what works for you! And the beauty of homeschool is that if you are all having a grumpy day and no one will co-operate, you can read together and go bake something together and call it a day. Or just skip it all together. You can be so flexible. Another idea is maybe doing school while your 18 month old naps.
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:47 PM   #5
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Re: How do you homeschool with a busy house

I am HSing my 4 (will be 5 next month) and my 6 y/o kids, and I also have a 2 y/o and a 3 mo old.

My days are hectic.

I've honestly adjusted by slowing down and relaxing my expectations.

Like today, my older ones are sick, so we're doing - nothing. All day.

When things get out of control, we get out of the house. We go to the kid's museum, the park, the zoo, anywhere but inside these 4 walls.

Other times, we'll have a few weeks where things go smoothly.

Ideally, school for us is from wake up to about noon. We do as much as we reasonably can in that time frame. The rest of the day is playing, snuggling, discussing concepts, spending time together, etc.

As I've adjusted more of my own expectations, I've found that HSing works just fine, if I LET it work the way it does. So, instead of trying ti do public school at my kitchen table, we actually learn the way we want, and how we are able to learn, without regard to what the public school system wants "learning" to look like. We're no unschoolers, we have curriculum we're using. But we aren't so stiff that we can't relax and do school, too.

I often engage the 2 y/o during school time by letting her sit with us, talking to her as if she can understand the concepts, letting her have her own worksheets/pencils/crayons, letting her play with blocks or legos, etc. It helps, but we still have our days or weeks where it just doesn't go as we'd like.

And I'm becoming more and more okay with that as time goes on. We're finding our niche. I've learning HSing is more of a journey, than an end decision.
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Old 07-07-2013, 09:17 PM   #6
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Re: How do you homeschool with a busy house

I would just go for it.

I only have three. But, yeah it's a little chaotic with a 18 month old. BUT, as others have said it really only takes a couple of hours at these ages. So...on days my toddler just doesn't want to co-operate, we just wait till dad gets home, let dad play with toddler and I do school with DD. What ever ALL of them can do, we let ALL of them do it-IE we do a box curriculum, so sometimes it would say make cookies today (helps with fine motor skills AKA writing), and ALL of them made cookies, not just my oldest DD.

I don't have a set schedule either, just do it when we can, as long as it gets done, and even at our lackadaisical schedule, and starting 2 months later then every one else in our area, we were done EARLY for the year! lol At these ages it isn't that hard.

And as a friend of mine brought up once, when I was upset about my parents going crazy about us homeschooling, it's just one year...really what is a year in the over all life of a person. So really what do you have to lose? When she said it like that, really by the time the kids graduate, one year (especially early year, like K-3rd grade) isn't going to be that significant over all. So if it doesn't work out you could always just send then back next year. But, more then likely you will be fine and all of you will love it.

Personally I heard a lot of horror stories how the first year was soooo hard, etc. This was our first year, and I thought it was super easy. Love it more then ever. So you may be like me and the first year be awesome, but don't lose heart if it is just a adjustment year where you just learn how YOUR family will school.

For me, it may of been easier cause I was anticipating it being hard, and was ready to just roll with the punches, but there really wasn't any punches, that I found for us.
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Old 07-08-2013, 12:51 PM   #7
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Re: How do you homeschool with a busy house

I have a 10yo and 5yo that are HS and then 4 daycare kids b/w 17mo and 22mo and a newbie starting in Sept. (Dear God, I just typed that out and it looked frightening! )

Our school day starts at 9 with group Bible story, Saint of the Day and Memory work. Then at 9:30 the kids break off with DD doing independent work and DS doing his reading with me. Then DS is free for a while and DD does her writing with me (just starting WWE, so I think she'll need the one-on-one for a while). I've tried to allow extra time so that if I need to rock a lo or change a diaper then I can do that. The benefit of having more than one is that they can entertain themselves for a little bit. Following writing, we'll do history or geography together. Lunch then naps for the babies. During naptime I'll work one on one with each for math and then with DD on French, Latin or Greek-depending on the day. Basically we are scheduled 9-2:30, but each child will only be doing "school" for 3 hours a day and we'll fill in the blank times with outside play, nature walks, cooking skills, and TumbleBooks.
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Old 07-08-2013, 06:43 PM   #8
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Re: How do you homeschool with a busy house

We also have 4 kids age 18 months-8 years. We use Christian Light Education for math, language arts, and reading, and Sonlight books for social studies, science, and Bible, so it is very easy for me. CLE is awesome, I can't praise it enough. From a distance, it looks like boring workbooks, but when in use, I can't really describe it, just check out the reviews at It requires virtually no planning on my part, we all sit at the table together and the 3-year-old has their own CLE "workbooks" to do, and the 18-month-old just kind of meanders around and plays with his own toys at our feet.

It's doable because everything is taught in very small chunks and then the kids do work on their own, with me right there. I can help one person for 5 minutes, then another for 5 minutes, then go back to the first one, and they still "get" it. It's very spiral. And then in the afternoon, we finish anything from the morning and then sit around reading the Sonlight books together, which are so interesting and educational that it doesn't feel like "school work."

We all wake around 7:00, eat breakfast, unload the dishwasher, start some laundry, and get ready for the day. Kids do their own chores, play, and I check my email. We start school at 9:00am, it takes maybe 2 hours in the morning, then lunch at 11:00, naps and quiet time after that, then start up again around 1:00 for another 1-2 hours in the afternoon. Then we have a snack around 2:30/3:00 and then we all do the day's housework together (30 minutes or so) and fold laundry and put it away. Then we can play together until 5:00, and then the kids play by themselves while I make supper. Then supper at 6:00, then I clean up and start the dishwasher while DH gives the kid baths, we play together some more, pick up, and everyone is in bed by 8:00.

Some afternoons I have to take ODS to guitar lessons or ODD to dance class, and Wednesday evenings during the school year is a church thing, and usually once a week we just all go to the children's museum for the morning.

Last edited by Melinda29; 07-09-2013 at 08:00 AM.
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Old 07-08-2013, 11:20 PM   #9
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Re: How do you homeschool with a busy house

It is getting easier as they get older! My kids are now 10, 8, and 5... My 10 year old is able to do most of his math, phonics, handwriting, grammar on his own- takes about 45 minutes for him to do it all. The 8 year old does the same things, plus her science supplement for My Father's World, and it takes her about the same time, with a bit more supervision from me. The 5 year old is just starting Kindy work- combo of Math U See, Explode the Code (beginner books), My Father's World K, and Five in Row- she needs the most help, but has the "least" to "do"- takes about the same amount of time.

My older two are using My Father's World for the other parts of their education- they work together, and our time with that is about an hour or less most days.

All in all we are done with "school" by lunch time most days.

One key I have found is doing the "reading" aloud I have to do during breakfast and snack time- this keeps their mouths busy and they are able to pay attention more as we eat and discuss what we are reading.

When they were younger, (esp. when baby was growing and I was working with the older 2), I used the morning nap time to get a bit more focused time with the oldest as he was doing more "work". As baby grew, we again did work right after breakfast, when baby's tummy was full and she was more likely to stay busy with some toys or the most favorite thing- water- we have a small water table that would keep her busy for at least 30 minutes- she would be wet, but that was a small inconvenience for peace .
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Old 07-09-2013, 03:31 PM   #10
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Re: How do you homeschool with a busy house

LOL Water table! I use the bathtub!

I put 18 month old and 3 year old in the tub (not completely full only a few inches, and yes I know you can drown in a few inches, but if one fell and couldn't get up, the other would be yelling, and I can see/hear them from where we do "school". They mainly sit and splash each other, and pour the water in and out of water toys. And literally that can keep them happy for HOURS! That was always one of my resorts when we were desperate to get work done and 3 and 18 month old didn't want to cooperate that day! lol

We do school in the master bedroom of the house-so having it's own bathroom is a major plus for using the master bedroom as the "class" room! lol Some people thought we were crazy for giving up the master bedroom and using one of the "kid" rooms as our bedroom. But, yeah, I didn't tell them the bonus of doing school in the master bedroom, and it having it's own bathroom, is keeping the two littles completely distracted while we do school! And I didn't even think of that bonus when we chose it to use as the classroom, but boy when I discovered that little's made school soo much easier! lol When I chose the master bedroom as the classroom, I was just thinking of size to store books, and school curriculum, and having a toilet right there so that they weren't traipsing too far from school work to get out of doing school work, and me having to go round them up, kind of keeping tally of how long they have been in the bathroom, etc. But, then when I found the magic of using the oh the beauty! lol

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