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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Little Advice

A homeschooling mother of 15 children did us all a favor when she decided to write this.

If you have young children and are homeschooling and/or thinking of homeschooling, you will probably appreciate her advice as much as I did!

Here is an excerpt from her post on homeschooling with young children:

When I decided to keep my first daughter home, my first inclination was not to formally "do" anything--just live life and let her develop and see how things went. But a well-meaning relative, one who already was sure I had jumped off the dock and was headed for the abyss, insisted on buying my first year's curriculum.

When the box came I was excited. I loved flipping through the colorful texts and wanted to get started right away.

It wasn't long before I was quite frustrated. The babies kept getting into everything or crying or the phone would ring. Worst of all, my daughter hated the materials and didn't catch on like she was supposed to. What an awful mess it was!

Then I would get pregnant and sick, and the whole thing would seem to shut down for a while, except that it was in these times that things actually progressed. The children would then have fun just drawing and playing legos and exploring. Since I was pretty sedentary, I would read novels aloud to them--Little House on the Prairie, Old Yeller, and the like. It was during these times that I would research and find out that I could relax.

And so I would like to offer some simple suggestions for those with many children up to age 7:

  • Don't be afraid. You taught your child how to walk and talk, and reading isn't that complicated. Take the pressure off and you will do much better.
  • Have these supplies on hand: Paper, scissors, glue, crayons, a cheap watercolor set (these items will cost you less than ten dollars during the "back to school" sales), some home-made salt dough, some picture books from the library or thrift store and a good set of phonics flash cards and number cards.
  • Invest in a child gate. This is good to keep the kids "corraled" so that the mess they make is localized, instead of letting them have free reign over the whole house so that you never feel as though you can get anything accomplished!
  • Keep food simple. We used to eat just two different breakfasts and lunches every day. The kids never got tired of them--and I always knew what to fix!
  • Have a stash of snacks for yourself. I learned this after I went through a time of being about 10lbs underweight. I would feed the kids and then forget to eat!
  • A good book to have on hand that will teach you how to teach reading is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. My kids usually get tired of this book by lesson 50, but it lays a great foundation for more advanced reading.
  • Don't have a schedule, follow a routine. Prioritize--what are the most important things that need to be accomplished? First, people need to be fed three squares a day. They need to be clean and rested. They need clean dishes and clothes. They need to be loved and listened to. Only after these basics are accomplished should anything else be added. It doesn't matter that Suzie Q. runs all over town and volunteers at church--you are not responsible for her. God has given you your family and that is all you have to do for now. The outward-focused life is for another season.
  • Have paper, pencils and crayons always available, with parameters set up to prevent waste. One way I have done this is to tear my sheets of paper into quarters, and in this way if they make one scribble and decide to move on, the whole sheet is not wasted.
  • Save the messier supplies for "special" times. This preserves you and your house.
  • Have daily "quiet time" after lunch and clean up--do this for your marriage as well as your own health.
  • Keep media to a minimum. I don't allow computer time to children this age at all. Television (they don't watch cable or networks) is only for special times.
  • Read aloud daily, if at all possible. Even if it is the same book over and over. I think I have Green Eggs and Ham memorized almost completely.
  • Answering questions is about the best thing you can do. You are the walking book that a child refers to whenever he is puzzled. Count it as a privilege!
  • Use the necessary errands of life as learning experiences. Tell them stories about your childhood and God and sing together in the car. Teach them how to behave in public. Explain things to them as you are doing them so that they will feel included and important to you.
  • Teach them how to tie, whistle, blow bubbles, hopscotch, ride a bike, fold a towel. These are both fun and inexpensive activities and help them to develop the fine motor skills necessary for all the other stuff.
If you just live and love your child, he will gain a much better education than he could ever receive during these years in some institutional setting or with some formal curriculum at home. It's not "parental perfection" but loving response that is key here.


  1. Obviously I don't have kids this age, but I have a sister who does. So I love storing up this information for when she homeschools them and then when I do the same one day.
    In other words- I loved this post! Thanks!

  2. Hi there.I louuurve this!Sometimes I forget the important issues, especially when other friends tell me how aamzing their children are!Or I feel like I haven't given them enough to do when they've spent the whole day 'building', learning to share, play peacefully..Thank you.Simple is best indeed.

  3. I loved this:) I was homeschooled and while I'm a few years away from homeschooling my daughter, I'm still thinking about it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yep, that's pretty much what it's like with lots of littles. It's so nice to see other ideas on the matter. I am always in need of new tricks.


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