I have a 6 year old starting 1st grade this fall, a 4 year old starting preschool, a 3 year old, that doesn’t nap anymore, observing and doing some preschool activities, and then a brand new baby due April 15. How do you create a consistent daily schedule with so many different ages?
Following! We have 4 kids and I would love advice in this area.
First, work into it gradually. Set some “anchors” in your day–meal times, rest time (my kids did a rest time well after the time they stopped napping), read-alouds, etc… A daily “routine” if you will so that kids know what to expect next.
Then think about how to do school: 6 and 3 yo can play while you work one on one with the 4 year-old. etc…
I would set up some structured things for the kids to do while you work one on one with another child. You can have bins of educational toys and also just “play” items that you rotate every 20 minutes or so for a basic routine for little ones, and mix in some outside play for everyone when possible–that might be another “anchor” in your day.
I found that working with my younger first helped fill her “love tank” so that she was more willing to play when I worked with my oldest.
Neither Pre-K nor 1st grade will take that long–start with one subject at a time and gradually build up to your full routine. This will help you see what works and what doesn’t as far as keeping the others busy while you school.
I found in the elementary years that even with only 2 years, our routine shifted and changed each year–so don’t be afraid to experiment until you hit on the right combination of things that works. That’s where starting gradually with just one or two subjects and ramping up over several weeks really helped us to see what would work out.
Mainly…have fun! These are busy days but enjoy your little ones. Let the structure of a routine bring some peace and regularity to your day but not to the point of adding stress…if that makes sense.
Thank you! Great advice! My oldest likes a more structured school day but I know with a new baby and a 3 year old we need to be flexible. Thank you for your tips.
Merry has great suggestions. Just what I was thinking as well - but she put it into words much better than I was. I have a 9, 7, 5, 3, and 1 yr old - so usually my 1 yr old just has to sit on my lap and play with toys while I help lol. I will get a student started on Math - then help the next in line etc. Sometimes if the older students are able to work on there own on, say, math or spelling - I will get them started and then help the younger two with their work. If the older ones need help I will try and save that time for computer time or worksheets for my younger ones. It is a balancing act!
For ex: this morning I had my two older students work on math, while I had my younger ones work on music. Then my younger ones started working on math while my older ones did music and vocabulary and spelling. When my youngest was done with music - then they did phonics. With those subjects complete we all did science together! Phew!
So - for me - I try to say - ok these are the subjects for the morning - and these are the subjects for the afternoon - and then I try to organize it so everyone is busy and maximizing time and getting things done. And leaving time for me to help as well. This doesn’t always work perfectly - but it is working pretty wel while teaching the kids patience lol
It really is a matter of adjusting as you go until you find what works and what doesn’t. I have a 8, 4, 2, 10 months old twins, and a baby due in May. Some things can make school much harder than it has to be, and others can help and make it run smoothly. For me, I have found that being organized and having a place for everything has been a big help. I have the 8yo’s work in workboxes. My preschoolers’s books are on a bookshelf so that I can distribute to them the papers so that they are not touching everything, making a mess. The twins have a pack and play that I put then into with some toys. I try and care for them first, but I also don’t let them rule the day or drive us crazy. So, we wake up, I feed and change them into clean diapers and clothes. I make breakfast for everyone else, and I take it easy as I do all this. I really try not to stress about schedule, but as long as we are starting school by 9 or 9:30 I’m good with that. It can be tough getting to the point where your children are doing productive things while you are busy, but that’s really important too. It was way easier for me to be divided into 3, doing everything for everyone but with 5 it became almost impossible. So I learned to orient them by saying have you made your bed? Are your clothes all picked up? Make sure there is nothing in the floor in the living room. For my oldest I made simple chores for every morning, like feed pets, and put dishes away. I ask everyday have you done it? And then I start expecting her to do it on her own without reminders. It’s easy to loose track of who is where and what they’re doing. They all have a thing they want to do.
I think these things are more helpful than finding a schedule for school that works. Because nothing will work unless these things are working.
When the twins were newborns, I had a changing station (diapers, wipes) in a small basket in the school room. I had a swing in the room as well. I tried to arrange everything in a way that it did not interfere with walking through or anything. Because that can cause stress too after a while.
After a while, I also bought a box for each child’s papers. This way when I can and feel energized I will put everything in a binder and won’t be worried about babies ripping papers or losing them because they sat too long on the desk/table. Anyway, this is a long reply, but it was so hard to figure this all out on my own. I didn’t know how hard it was going to be. I needed to be better prepared.
Awesome info! I wanted to ask you about rotating between play toys and educational toys. Can you share any places you’ve found that offers good info about educational toys. My little one is starting in the Montessori pre-schoolers soon, so I’ve been reading lots off www.montessoritoys.com, but I want to stay open to different sources and keep a good mix of things. Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!!
Timberdoodle carries a lot of fun items, you might check them. When my kids were very little, my husband had just become disabled, and we had no spare income, so it’s not an area I explored a lot store-wise. I used what we were given and what I could find at garage sales or used curriculum sales. www.paulasarchives.com has good ideas for toddlers/preschoolers that use every day items. When my daughter was 3, one of her favorite things to do was to stand on a chair at a sink half-filled with water, and stir with spoons and pour between bowls. Simple things like dried beans and dump trucks can be really fun for dumping, moving, making roadways–and if you have a long low bin to contain it, even better (or do it on a floor that can be easily swept). Most things are educational in some way for little ones–various types of blocks and building toys (stacking cups and duplos for little ones), puzzles, math manipulatives of all kinds, dolls, I always had a dress-up box (a doctor kit and one of dad’s old shirts provided lots of fun, or a fireman hat and a truck with some plastic ladders), Fisher Price Little People–I remember one of my kids at 1.5 or 2 was fascinated for a couple of days with an empty 2-liter bottle. My son at 18 months loved lining duplos up in a toy wagon. I would start with what you have and think about how you could rotate those items. Then add on things as you see something that meets a different area of learning or as you see trends (we have lots of one type of toy but not many of an other), or as you see things your kids tend to really enjoy.