Sometimes, you wonder if it will all get done when you have smaller children. It will all get done. It just might take you a long, long time.
Now, I'm not going to lie to you. Sometimes it feels as though the little ones are out to sabotage your beautiful plans for a learning-filled homeschool day. It's almost as though the tiny children are colluding together and timing their poopie diapers for *just that moment* an older child is about to grasp a concept. Their screamy-grumpy times are also out-of-sync enough so that there is no way you can coordinate a quiet moment. These little kids are strategists, all right. Consider the evidence:
Exhibit A: The Woodjie Pumpkin. Sure, J looks awfully cute in the picture. Happy, even. That's because I've given in and given the child EVERYTHING he wanted. All the toys are strewn across the floor, snacks have been doled out and I've read him three books. Thanks, Mom.
One way our homeschool works is by appeasing the barbarians and giving them bribes to be quiet. The books. The snacks. I've even gone so far as to give crayons and paper. Yes, I have.
Exhibit B: The Girl. This one is more sinister in her approach. Bribes do not work on this one. She is more manipulative in her attack on homeschooling. Oh, she'll be so good-natured and quiet and sweet. Can she have a cuddle? Mmm.. A bottle? Mmm... Snuggle me one more minute. You don't *really* need to teach those multiplication tables today, do you? I'm only young for a little while, Mom!
Yes, it's true. Some days we will get quite a bit done and I'll be astounded at the quiet. Other days you might as well be happy with a half-hour here and there. Most of the time, however, I've employed a method that homeschool moms have used throughout the ages. It's called, "teach when everyone is calm."
It sounds simple, and it is if you don't let things like laundry and housework detour you. It involves training your homeschoolers to do worksheets and other problems while you are attending the smaller children. It also involves teaching your homeschoolers to drop everything and listen to you give instruction when you have a free moment. Your homeschoolers presumably will learn to switch gears more effectively as you employ this method in your school.
In public schools, switching from one activity to another like that is called "transition." It's actually a skill they teach their special-needs kids in the classroom. Lunch is over, and now it's time for math. Math is over, and now it's time for reading.
In our homeschool, it's a little more complicated than that. Math isn't over, but put down those worksheets a second while I teach you your Social Studies. When you get a chance, I want you to do pages 19 and 20 in your Social Studies book. But now that I have a free minute, let's talk about your mathematics. Ok, now it's time for you to finish your math and Social Studies while I attend your brother.
I'm back. It's English time! You can do that other stuff later. Whoops, I'm leaving halfway through the lesson for a sec, but go do your math and Social Studies while I get S a bottle...
Eventually it all *does* get done.