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Scheduling 3 Children


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#1 Momof3plus

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 06:25 AM

What would you all recommend for scheduling 3 children ages 7, 6 and 4 years old?

Do you prefer to teach one child at a time whilst the others play together or alternate, teaching one child a subject then letting them play and switching to teaching another child, back and forth like this?

Currently we all sit together for religious memory work and a read aloud before the younger two go off and either play or do reading eggs together, whilst I teach the eldest.

I don’t really require much from my younger two, well, the youngest one is allowed to just play and the 6 year old I will probably start to teach him more formally in the next couple of months, that’s why I’m thinking about schedules/routine.

But I’m feeling really guilty as I’ve always been very averse to screen time and online learning (reading eggs) but I’m finding that it helps keeps my younger two busy whilst I teach the eldest. I don’t want to push them out, I’d really like them to be in the same room. But I find my eldest gets super distracted with them around. Plus I’m also feeling bad for my son that maybe I’m pushing him too much.

Currently he does 20 mins maths, 20mins reading with me, he’s just finished phonics pathways, 5-10mins of FLL, 15mins of sequential spelling which we’ve just started and he’s loving thankfully! Plus he does 15 mins of handwriting.
That’s all his daily work.

Then as a family group we do SOTW once a week and I’m loosely following BFSU but more like a unit study once a week and I incorporate our art into this. We do a family map drill x3 week and once a week we do a Charlotte Mason elementary years Geography, which is basically just like a read aloud with questions at the end.

I keep telling myself that they’d have a lot less playtime if they were in school but I feel like I’m neglecting my younger two and pushing my eldest. My husband thinks I’m crazy - that 1-1.5hrs of play/learning time without me (for the younger two) is fine because if they were in school they’d be without me all day anyway. Am I just guilt tripping myself for no reason?!

Also, how would you schedule things once I start teaching my 6 year old as well.

Sorry for the long essay 😐
Xxxx

#2 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 06:55 AM

Mine are 11, 9, 6, and 3.  The three oldest are school-age, but my 6 year old is really just now ready for school-y stuff that the two older were ready for at 4, so:

 

Calendar time all together

11 and 9 do math at the same time.  I answer 11 year old's questions as he works independently and I give a lesson and then sit with 9 year old.  

11 and 9 year old also do LA together.  6 year old sits at the table with us and does her handwriting sheet.  

11 and 9 year old then have some assigned reading and writing.  During that time, I do one on one with the 6 year old for reading and math.  

Lunch time audio book all together.  

If 6 year old wants additional work, I have some cutting workbooks, additional handwriting workbooks, coloring pages, etc.  She also "helps" with teaching 3 year old to recognize letters, numbers, and counting.  He is more like the older kids in that he is ready for some "school" quite early and enjoys being part of the gang.  :-)  

 


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#3 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 06:58 AM

To address some of the things in your OP:

 

- learning to play alone is a skill that needs to be developed.  So is learning to work with distractions.  I can remember my (then 8yo) ds using one hand to hold back the (then 1.5yo) who had climbed up on the table and was trying to get to ds's math, while still continuing to write down answers with the other hand.  I'm not saying its ideal, but there are distractions at home as well as in public school, and concentration in spite of that is a skill to hone.  

 

- Magic School Bus is a really great show that all three of your kids could enjoy together or that you can use *without guilt* while working with the eldest.

 

 


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#4 wendyroo

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 09:32 AM

My kids are 8 (3rd grade), 6 (1st grade) and 4 (pre-K)...with a tagalong 2 year old to keep thing interesting.   :lol:

 

My kids are early risers, so they all do an hour of free reading (audiobooks for the 4 year old) in their rooms before breakfast.  During breakfast I read aloud, we practice their Spanish vocab, we watch CNN10, and then they watch a short video in Spanish.

 

Right after breakfast, the 6 and 8 year olds tidy their places at the table, brush their teeth and then start their independent work: piano practice, handwriting, xtramath, duolingo, and assigned reading and narrating (the 6 year old reads aloud and orally narrates, the 8 year old reads to himself and writes/types his narrations).

 

While they work on independent work, I help the younger kids start their days.  I help them tidy theirs dishes and brush their teeth.  The 2 year old then looks at books on the potty while I do 10-15 minutes of preschool work with the 4 year old.  This includes a bit of phonics or math plus some cutting or pencil practice.

 

My goal is for everyone to be finishing up around the same time.  The younger two then go off to play while I start helping the older two with more teacher intensive schooling.  We start with science or history just because those are the only subjects they do together, so it makes sense to do them at a transition time before either gets immersed in another activity. 

 

For the rest of morning school time, the three of us sit at the table with them each working on whatever is on their list and me bouncing back and forth teaching/helping/assigning a couple problems and then checking in.  My 8 year old does problem solving and Spanish every day, and then alternates either writing + Python + grammar or memorization + spelling + typing.  My 6 year old does problem solving and drawing/art every day, and then alternates either spelling + typing or writing + Code.org.

 

Their last subject of the day is always math, and that happens right after lunch once the younger kids are in their rooms for nap or rest time.

 

Overall the workload boils down to N minutes of language arts, N minutes of math, N minutes of Spanish, and N minutes of "other" (history/science/art/computer/piano).  For my 3rd grader, N = ~45.  For my 1st grader, N = ~30.  "School" happens 4 days a week, but some type of math, reading, and unschool-y content learning get done pretty much every day of the week.

 

As for worrying about your younger kids playing by themselves too much, my kids spend more time than that playing by themselves or with siblings, and I think that is very valuable for them.  When people talk about learning through play, I don't think they mean a whole bunch of playing with adults.  I hardly ever play with my kids - I read to them, cook with them, do chores with them, go for walks with them, do crafts with them, etc - but every day they also play on their own for chunks of time.  I find that to be the beauty of homeschooling, we have LOTS and LOTS of time to fit in all sorts of valuable activities.

 

Wendy 


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#5 desertflower

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 10:56 AM

Mine are 8, 7 ,and 5. I teach one child in a closed room while the other 2 play together in another room.

Art, science, geography are often taught together.

While the youngest is in gymnastics, i teach them both.

I wouldn't feel guilty. I think you still have more time with your kids now than if they were to go to public school.

It does feel like i have less time with my youngest than when my oldest was 4 or 5. But that is just the nature of the game. The more kids i have the less time i have for each one. At least that is how i felt.

The schedule is the same once your 6 yo is ready. I also include lessons with my 5 yo because she feels left out. It's usually just 15 to 30 mins.

Magna tiles and legos keep them busy while i teach one child.

Hope this helps. It may not be the best way of using my time, but it is what works. Because my older two are on way different levels and my middle child often felt stupid if she can't keep up, so that is why i teach them separately.

#6 kiwik

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 01:50 PM

Did your parents play with you all the time as a kid or did you spend hours playing by yourself or with other children. I think entertaining and playing with kids is a new thing now we don't have to spend hours doing household tasks. Playing with kids is good but them playing by themselves is good too.
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#7 nixpix5

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 02:44 PM

I have 3 ages 8,6 and 6 and even though the twins are the same age they are both in different curriculums and at different places academically.

We start our morning together for bible study, history and literature reading. After that two of them will start on independent work in language arts and I give lessons to one. Then we rotate. After we have gone through LA rotation I then go through math lesson rotation.

There was a learning curve to it before they were used to it. The idea is to be consistent and calm in the midst of them learning the routine. Even my little guy with ASD has no issue with our schedule and independent time now that he gets expectations.

In the afternoon we tend to do things all together. We may do our science reading and experiments, do a history craft, do our art time and so forth.

I just make sure my curriculum options have a good mix of one on one teaching as well as some workbook time as well. This has made it possible for us to do this schedule successfully.

ETA: even if you aren't officially homeschooling the 4 yr old you can make them part of the rotation. Maybe their "lesson" time looks like you reading them a book, playing magnetiles and rolling marbles down them, playing a game to learn letter sounds and so forth. This gets them interested and into a routine for when that transition to "big kid" work happens.

Edited by nixpix5, 07 January 2018 - 02:47 PM.

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#8 fralala

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 02:59 PM

No suggestions, just coming clean here:

 

I am a member of the Pushed My Oldest Too Hard Club and also the Younger Kids Had Increasingly Large Amounts of Screentime Club, and what you are doing does not yet make you valid for membership yet, with the note that of course all are welcome. (We have an offshoot for Feeding the Baby Foods I Never Would Have Thought I'd Ever Even Permit in My House to Keep Him Happy Anonymous, but I'm not saying I'm a member of that.)

 

In other words, I am inclined to the "guilt tripping yourself for no reason" side of things. And if your kids seem reasonably happy with the set-up most of the time, enjoy it. The fact that you are stressing about your kids spending too much time doing Reading Eggs (!) should tell you that you are a conscientious parent indeed. (I have 2 who learned to read from that program, by the way. Time well spent!)


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#9 barnwife

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 04:59 PM

Well, ours our 7.5, almost 6, 4.5, and 1.

We do morning time together (religion, poetry/art/music appreciation/telling jokes/nursery rhymes loop, history/science/fairy tale loop, and quality literature).

Then the 4 yo does his reading, with the 2 oldest tagging along (he watches Word World or Super Why). Oldest then does a phonics lesson, followed my copywork and maths.

I do not require anything formal until they turn 6. Those not being directly taught run off and...entertain themselves, with the goal being them not needing to talk to me at all during such times. So once DD turns 6, she will have her phonics time immediately after oldest, before we start table time.


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#10 Spudater

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 05:57 PM

No suggestions, just coming clean here:

I am a member of the Pushed My Oldest Too Hard Club and also the Younger Kids Had Increasingly Large Amounts of Screentime Club, and what you are doing does not yet make you valid for membership yet, with the note that of course all are welcome. (We have an offshoot for Feeding the Baby Foods I Never Would Have Thought I'd Ever Even Permit in My House to Keep Him Happy Anonymous, but I'm not saying I'm a member of that.)

In other words, I am inclined to the "guilt tripping yourself for no reason" side of things. And if your kids seem reasonably happy with the set-up most of the time, enjoy it. The fact that you are stressing about your kids spending too much time doing Reading Eggs (!) should tell you that you are a conscientious parent indeed. (I have 2 who learned to read from that program, by the way. Time well spent!)


When does this club meet? Should I bring wine? ;)
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#11 reign

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 06:49 PM

I think that it is a posative for the younger kids to amuse themselves for an hour or two everyday.
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#12 LMD

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 02:56 AM

Firstly mama, you're doing a great job!
Fralala is right!

Secondly, independent play is good for the kids. Really really good, it sets up their little brains to be creative and critical thinkers - it is their most important work. Set em up with a shelf of things they can do independently - puzzles, lego, playdough etc. Turf them outside! Don't feel guilty - this is a GIFT to them. My 4 year old gets a lot of this gift and I do feel guilty sometimes - his life looks very different from my oldest's at 4, which has both positives and negatives.
Tackling disruptive littles while teaching young-not-yet-independent students is just hard work, you're not doing anything wrong, it's just not ever going to go smoothly! Embrace the chaos, be consistent, and things will look different one day.

Thirdly, you'll be okay with scheduling, you get better at it as time goes on. I tend to do 3 blocks of work - morning time, skills, content. Each block is between 1 & 3 hrs (for me! Not for all my kids!) And for the skills block I tend to work subject by subject from youngest to oldest (as in, maths for 7y/o, maths for 10y/o, maths for 12y/o) - with my older two completing independent work while I'm teaching someone else. Morning time is important to me because it keeps us connected as a family learning together, and we do some fun stuff!

Edited by LMD, 08 January 2018 - 02:59 AM.

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#13 Momof3plus

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 08:51 AM

Thank you so much ladies for putting my mind at ease! So the hubby was right! Darn....hmm should I tell him 😆

You’re all so right about independent play being an opportunity for learning and growth. I dish this advise out to others all the time but somehow I always question my own set up! Newbie nerves I guess.

Well, today was the first day back after a long Christmas break and it went well 😄.

I’ll stick to this plan for the time being and by the time the 6yr old is ready in a few months, the 7yr old will be able to do more independent work I’m hoping.

I really value all your opinions and suggestion, thank you everyone.
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#14 nwahomeschoolmom

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 03:35 PM

You sound like a great mom!  But I get the stress totally.  I have a 5.5 year old and a 4 month old so I don't have the same situation since the baby is still young, so I don't have tons of advice to offer.  How do you have your toys laid out for the 4 year old?  I know the montessori style is like a bookshelf with a lot of self-learning/self-correcting toys? Could the 4 and 6 year old build with duplos, playdoh, or color until you have time to work with each of them?   We do no screen time in my house (now he gets some on the weekends), so I get thats it hard but possible to stick to it.  In any case, an hour/hour and a half is not long at all for them to entertain themselves and play together.  


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#15 Evanthe

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:31 AM

My kids are 16, 14, 12, 10 and 2.  I combine mine.  That's the only way I've been able to run this circus over the last 10 years.  My 16 and 14 year-old have always worked together as "classmates" (he's actually almost 15. they're 14 months apart).  My 12 year-old and 10 year-old are also combined.

 

The high schoolers do their own math.  The middle schoolers have their own math and language arts.

 

I always work with the youngest kids first, if they need me for something.

 

If my kids were 7, 6 and 4...I would probably work with them as a "class" with everything except math/LA.  I would let 4 year-old join in for art, science, etc (if he wants to and can listen).

 

Not sure if any of that helped...  And we are having a horrendous time with our 2 year-old.  We had to get him his own "schoolbooks", because he won't leave the older kids alone.  I'm good at combining, but I really can't combine someone in diapers with someone taking Driver's Ed.   :tongue_smilie:


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#16 Trilliumlady

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 11:20 AM

I’ll give you my schedule just as more food for thought. Usually we are able to stay pretty closely to it but definitely not always. I have a dd9 in fourth, ds8 in second and ds5 in Kish.

8:00 to 8:30 we all read the Bible and then some read aloud time. Hopefully starting bible time a bit earlier so we get more read aloud time.
8:30 to 9:30 math time. I do 20 minutes of Essential Math with ds5 while the other two start (and hopefully stay focused on) their CLE. When I’m done with ds5 he goes to look at books or plays while I do lesson with other two and try to keep them on track. Whatever they don’t get done by 930 is “homework.”
930 to 1000: handwriting for all three, using Pentime for all three.
1000 to 1015 technically, though often is goes to 1030 because I get distracted: break and snack
1015 to 1115 alternate science and history on WTM schedule: this they do together with ds5 listening or tagging along as he wants, I don’t require him to be attentive at all but he usually is. We are using STOW and RSO chemistry.
This is where it gets more messy and things aren’t followed quite so well, unfortunately.
1115 to 1145 is supposed to be grammar, FLL for the older two.
1145 to 1215 silent reading from books I have picked out that follow our history. I do a reading lesson for ds5 in this time using 100 Easy Lessons and then hopefully have time to listen to the other two read to me one at a time. This reading instruction needs to be changed somehow but I am tabling that till next year when they are a bit older.....
1215 to 100 lunch
100 to 200 language arts, where I take turns working with them on WWE lesson while they are doing individual work on spelling, explode the code, and anything they haven’t gotten done yet.
200 on, reading, sometimes if I’m lucky an art lesson, piano practice, play etc.
Basically, when I’m working with one the other is working on their own work. DS5 has some of his own work but not too much. Hope this might be of some help.
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#17 Rach

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 11:35 AM

I have a 10 yo (4th), 8yo (2nd), and 5 yo (k).

For the last 5 years we have done morning time first with all of the kids. Up until this year the youngest then played while I worked with the other two. He stayed in the room unless he got too rowdy, then was sent to his room. That rarely had to happen unless someone was having a hard time with a concept and needed more quiet.

My oldest is my most independent, so he gets stared on what he can while I work with the middle. Then she gets to her independent work and he gets one on one time with me.

Adding in the 5 year old this year has been challenging. I think we have finally figured out a routine that works. He wakes up earlier than the other two, so we get all his seat work done, then do morning time, then I finish with the other two.

I try to minimize screens but there are times that’s what it takes. For the most part the youngest knows that while the other kids are doing school he needs to play with Legos, cars, or look at books. Sometimes I’ll get out play dough too. His independence isn’t something that just happened though, it’s something we worked on over time.
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#18 Linz1084

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 11:35 AM

I'm in the same boat!!!  6, 5, 4 and a 10 month old!

 

Right now we do morning time together, then I'm finding it works best to rotate kids.  20 mins with my 4yo, 40 mins to do math and reading each with my other kids.  They do copywork and handwriting by themselves.  I really keep it as minimal as possible.  Because someone always needs something - food, diaper change, baby won't nap, etc.  We have time on our side.  

 

In the afternoon I read our content lesson - right now we're doing beautiful feet history for 3 weeks, then we'll switch our block schedule and do a mystery science for 2-3 weeks.  We do notebook pages where they draw a picture and narrate to me.

 

It definitely feels like a dance.  Some days I do a lot with one child and the next day I balance it out by doing more with another.

The beauty of it is that they DO have each other to play with while I'm busy with the baby or doing school with another.  I love that they're learning to play independently and also deepening their friendship as brothers (some days).  I understand the guilt - but I think there are positives to the way things are set up also.  Hugs mama!


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#19 Momof3plus

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 05:41 PM

Thank you everyone. Xx
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#20 2_girls_mommy

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 05:55 PM

The last time I had a 4 yr old (she was a niece I kept full time Mon-Fri and did preschool work with,) my older kids were 4th and 6th grades, and my baby was born in that year.  Our schedule was something like this: 

 

Start the day with a Bible Story and coloring page for 4 yr old and some preschool workbook pages from Rod and Staff ABC workbooks. Older kids were expected to listen to the Bible story, even if it was a young version.  That way she got attention first. When she was 3 and not doing "school" yet, we started the day with singing preschool songs with her with children's CDs, doing some movement altogether, and practiced things like colors for a few minutes with her before I started work with the olders. 

 

Next she had a shelf of preschool educational activities she was allowed to do while I got them started on morning work. This was strictly bookwork time for them, not discussion or projects subjects. They would get a quick grammar or math lesson then do their work and I bounced between the older kids while she played and switched between toys. Once they were on paperwork she and I would do some light housekeeping together to spend some more time with her, and for my morning housework to get done. Then I usually took them all outside for a bit. The 6th grader probably stayed in and worked on schoolwork. After lunch and outside time we would all settle in for read aloud time. They all got out coloring books or craft projects. The preschooler often got out a bin of toys like Barbie dolls or something. Then I read to the older girls while they worked. I tried to have some books in the mix that interested her. We did memorywork altogether. A 4 yr old can memorize the presidents and the books of the Bible with older kids. And we looked at art works and learned about them.  By the end I always had a picture book like Dr. Seuss to end with before she went down for naptime. She went to another room. While she rested I could then do a longer study period with olders. We used that time to do things we did together but that were too big for a 4 yr old like outlining a section of a history book that needed focus. 

 

If I wanted the kids to do an art project, we all did it together in the morning, including the little. If we were doing a unit study that included bats, I read Stellaluna to all of them, even though it was aimed at the preschooler, and they painted a picture of bats using whatever technique we were into. While they worked I read books at the older kids' levels. I like to combine everyone when possible. Sure the younger isn't getting the science so much, but the olders enjoy the the preschool picture story books as much as a preschooler.  At some point in later afternoons I would work on letters and sounds one on one with the preschooler for a few minutes while the olders did their silent reading or at the library for an outing.

 

When the baby came, things were shaken up for awhile, lol.  We broke from a lot of read alouds and projects for awhile. The mornings were more a whirl of getting the olders on the have to school subjects and babycare. The 4 yr old loved to help with baths. Then for reading time it definitely wasn't as long. But we would still do things like read a book about Audobon and then I would send the olders out to look for birds and draw them. They all did that together while I nursed or whatever. There was just less of that kind of thing for a few months. 

 


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#21 2_girls_mommy

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:30 PM

ps I agree with your dh. Independent playtime is great!


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