It wasn’t until 2020 that we had even considered homeschooling and I’m no veteran, nor do I have all the answers. But I have discovered how each of our children learn differently. It’s been eye opening and what else I’ve noticed is how much the younger siblings want to participate in all the things too. Free, creative play is definitely at the core of learning for children, especially the younger ones. But I don’t want to discourage their excitement for participating in what their older siblings are doing. So I’m going to share some advice for homeschooling with younger siblings that has worked for us and what some other homeschool moms had to say!
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Tips for Homeschooling with Younger Siblings
I talked to a few homeschool moms and asked their advice for homeschooling with younger siblings. This is what I got:
- Spend time with the younger ones first. Have one-on-one time with them so they’re needs are met first. They’ll be more likely to play alone afterwards.
- Allow the younger siblings to participate in the homeschool day. Have them join for any crafts, activities, and reading.
- Get outside! It’s refreshing for everyone to get outside and play, but it really helps the younger siblings to play on their own while formal lessons are still being completed.
- Be sure to acknowledge the younger siblings when they need some attention. A few minutes of taking a break from the older ones to play with the younger ones really makes a difference.
- When we need to we save the harder work that needs parent attention for during nap or quiet time.
- Have special toys or books that are only used during homeschool times.
- Older siblings are a huge help! If you have more than one older child, allow one of them to play with the younger ones while you work one-on-one with the other and then switch.
PIN FOR LATER
Invitation to Play Areas
As I mentioned before, free, creative play is the core of learning in the younger years. I love this quote and cling to it frequently,
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”-Fred Rogers
So as much as, the younger siblings want to play, let them, encourage them to do so. Some ways I’ve implemented this in our home is having a safe space close to where we are doing our formal homeschool lessons. Using an “invitation to play” is a great way to allow play to happen naturally for the little ones. So what is an invitation to play? Well, it’s simply laying items out for your child to discover on their own. These things could be books, puzzles, loose parts, etc. Remember not to overwhelm the younger ones with too much stuff. Simply select a few items to lay out for them to find and explore.
For example, in our homeschool room I’ve included a sensory table from IKEA. It’s multifunctional as in it can be a table or you can also remove the tops to reveal two separate bins that can be used in multiple ways. I also have a cube storage shelf. In each cubby, I’ve placed 1-2 items. Here’s a run down of what’s currently on the shelves:
- Shape Sorter
- Stacking Rings
- Wooden Rainbow
- Stacking Cups
- Wooden Cars (linking something similar, because I can’t find our exact ones)
- 2 Board Books
Another helpful idea for this space is to rotate these play items, I haven’t done this yet, but I’m planning to. Get a few storage totes and place different toy items in each tote. Label totes “Week 1”, “Week 2”, etc. Rotate the toys each week. This keeps them interested and engaged in what they’re playing with.
Pretend Play Areas
Having an area for pretend play is another great option. This would include things like a play kitchen, store, baby dolls, and dress up. Pretend play is important as it helps children learn about the world and it’s essential to their development.
You don’t have to include all of those listed, but if you already have dress up things or a play kitchen just make an area for that close to where school takes place in your home.
Create Theme Weeks
Additionally, you could setup a theme for the younger siblings each week. Study a new animal, the human body, cooking, the 50 states. The possibilities are endless. There’s so much to explore and be creative with! Include books, loose parts, themed toys, sensory items like playdough, kinetic sand, rice, beans, water beads (choose what is age appropriate for your child). If you haven’t tried my easy no cook playdough recipe, you need to! We love it here and it’s so easy to make!
Resources for Homeschooling Younger Siblings
Another idea, if you’re younger ones are interested in having their own school supplies I encourage you to make a special box or space for their own “school books” that they can do along side their older siblings. Be sure to include pencils, crayons, and a notebook. Here are some of our favorite resources for the preschool age:
- Busy Bee Binder
- Morning Menu Bundle (this is a top seller!)
- Days of the Week Bundle
- Morning Time Tracing
- Letter Formation Cards
- Number Formation Cards
- Alphabet Flashcards
- Preschool Journal
Last Advice for Homeschooling with Younger Siblings
Just remember it doesn’t have to be fancy or Pinterest worthy, what matters is that it works for you and your family. Above all, the important thing is to just let them play and have fun and be sure to include them! And I have to leave you with some of my favorite books that have blessed me in this journey of homeschooling! Don’t worry they’re easy reads and you’re sure to enjoy them!
If you’re looking for some homeschool room organization, I just added some new items to LTK!