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Idea's for between Lessons


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My children are 7, 5, and 3. Almost everything we do is very teacher intensive, sometimes there is a little bit at the end of the lessons that they can do on their own. my problem is coming in during those 5 - 15 minutes between them getting done with their alone work and me finishing up with the other child. (This doesn't include my 3 year old. he has a pretty good routine that he established for himself that he goes by in the morning while we do school). What do your kids do during these breaks? How can I better manage them?

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Quick suggestions--



do a chore from a list (sweep kitchen, fresh water to pet, take out bathroom trashes, dust living room tables, etc.)


get a snack

start spelling words

review math fact cards

do the coloring page for SOTW

do copywork sentence

do memory cards

get ready for the next subject by getting out everything she'll need and sharpening her pencil

do nothing--just take a break (bathroom, hang out, let her choose)



chore from list (empty silverware from dishwasher, swiffer a room, etc)

look at a book from a bookbasket

coloring page from SOTW

"write the room" (hang up labels on some of the areas/things in a room, have him copy the label on a paper on a clipboard for writing practice)

Montessori practical life or other activity

pattern blocks--do a small picture card with the blocks, or use a strip of paper to have him start and finish a pattern or add to one

sorting--sort objects on a tray in different ways

100's chart--lots of quick activities for that--put pennies on all the numbers that end in zero, or redo something from the Saxon meeting



I know some kids have a folder of "busy work" that is a little more intentional than just a time-killer. Maybe some word finds or worksheets would be fun, or a message in code that they could come back to.

I had a word wall at one time, and dd would add words to it--adjectives or verbs.

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I keep what we call "waiting patiently" baskets on the shelves in our school area. I put play mobile, blocks, logic puzzles, and other quiet toys in baskets along side a few puzzles and a sensory tub. Everything gets rotated and the kids know not to interrupt me working with another student. If I look up and see one of them playing with the baskets I know they need me and y to get to them soon. Everything I put out is at least quasi-educational so I do not feel as though they are just killing brain cells while they wait.

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I work it a bit differently. I have my 8 year old start independent work (handwriting, spelling, reading) while I do ALL of my K'er's seat work (reading, math, handwriting). I then teach my 8 year old while K'er plays. When lunch comes around, we do that. Then I let 8 year old do more independent work (math, grammar assignments, after I've already taught the lessons earlier) while I read aloud to K'er. K'er is set free for the day, and I swap back to 8 year old to finish anything not done yet that needs me.


I've purposely moved toward curricula where I can teach a short lesson and send child off to work independently on the assignment. I still have subjects that are completely mom-intensive, but they're getting fewer and fewer.


I gave up trying to teach the same subjects at the same time. My K'er has a K attention span, so he works no more than 15 minutes on a subject. My 3rd grader has a much longer attention span, and his subjects are more advanced and take more time. Since my K'er only has about 30 minutes of seat work, it just made sense to focus just on him and get it done first. I have him look at library books as filler when I work with my 3 year old (if he's in a school mood).

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