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How to Keep Siblings Busy & Happy for a Successful Homeschool Day

 

Keep siblings busy and happy!

That’s my #1 tip for successfully homeschooling multiple kids 😉

I’m sharing my secrets for how our homeschool with five boys has not just survived but thrived over the years and how you can homeschool multiple ages, too 🙂

 

Discover how these tips & tricks from a homeschool mom of 5 can help you keep siblings busy & happy so you can enjoy your homeschool day

 

Work Smarter, Not Harder, In Your Homeschool

Tired of feeling like you’re spinning your wheels as you try to homeschool multiple kids?

If you’re like many homeschoolers, you probably feel like you’re never doing enough. And banging your head against the wall in the process!

Have you ever had any of these thoughts and feelings when it comes to trying to homeschool multiple ages?

  • There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I need and want to do.
  • It’s hard to switch between teaching the alphabet to my preschooler and working with my teen on pre-algebra. My brain gets stuck!
  • Just when I think the little ones are busy and I can finally get to work with my tween, the littles are running around and creating a disaster
  • I feel like I’m constantly putting out {homeschool} fires
  • There’s only one of me! I feel like my attention and body are being pulled in a gazillion directions!
  • No one wants to wait or be patient. It’s now or never. And if I lose their attention, they’re off and I have a really hard time getting them back to their work.
  • My kids don’t listen when I say please wait your turn or give me a second to finish this writing assignment with your sister so I can help your brother and then you.
  • Sometimes, I feel like I have a longer line waiting on me for help than the DMV! I’m going to start handing out help tickets to my kids.
  • Why can’t I figure out a system that works? One day, everything is sunshine and roses with work getting done and happy kids. The next day, it’s like WWIII and nothing gets done.

Mama, I’ve been through all these feelings and then some. It’s hard when you’re trying your best, only to feel like you just can’t seem to find a way to make it all jive.

 

Although it can be super frustrating as you attempt to homeschool different ages and stages, you CAN do it! 

Often, it means that you work smarter, not harder. With a bit of planning ahead and prep work, your homeschool with multiple ages can flow. 

After 8+ years of homeschooling my 5 boys, here are my tips for finding your homeschool groove with different ages and stages 🙂

 

Boy playing with Legos and stack of books with red apple on top and color pencils & stack of ABC blocks for ways to keep siblings busy & happy for a successful homeschool day

Smart Ways to Keep Siblings Busy & Happy While You Homeschool

When homeschooling more than one child, it can be hard to find time for one-on-one work with each child.

The best way to make this happen is to keep your other child or children busy while you work with another. And it doesn’t mean that you’re just giving busy work! 

With a few creative ideas and prep work, you’ll have all you need to keep siblings busy and happy while homeschooling other children.

 

1. Set up learning fun activities to keep siblings busy

This first step takes a bit of preparation but it’s well worth it. Of course, you’ll want to consider the ages and stages of the children to keep engaged in meaningful work. 

I shared one of my favorite tips for containing busy toddlers over at My Little Poppies: a cardboard box. This trick is so easy yet so effective! Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your busy little one is safe. (Just make sure to keep that box near your homeschool work area and frequently check on how your lil’  one is doing!)

You can find many more ideas that I’ve used and loved with my boys on my Toddler Time Pinterest board 🙂

This cardboard box trick is actually quite effective for almost any age. Older kids might not want to sit in the box but will find it fun to turn it into a rocket ship, castle, doll house, or other creative structure with a few simple materials like crayons, washable markers, stickers, and stamps.

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A frugal inventor’s box is another fabulous tool that doesn’t take too long to set up but provides hours of learning fun.

Plan other activities that help your child learn while they wait for their turn for your attention. Easy activities can be as simple as forming letters with playdough on printable mats or sorting buttons by color and size.

Older kids can benefit from learning to draw something new or building a model.

Some additional learning fun tools for older kids include:

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2. Wisely use technology to keep siblings busy

While screens can become an issue when overused, technology makes a great tool for your homeschool. Take advantage of educational apps and fun websites that allow your child to learn through games.

Technology often gets a bad rap but it does have its advantages, like:

  • When you don’t have time to prep or plan hands-on activities
  • Keeping siblings busy and engaged in the same room as you work with other children
  • Ability to address different learning styles
  • Teaching different skills, like typing, that your child can use to boost their homeschool work 

Try not to feel guilty if you occasionally use technology to keep siblings busy. As long as you’re monitoring what your kids are doing and keeping them in your homeschool area, some online learning is fine.

Psst! Use headphones to keep the sound of apps and games from bothering the child you are working with 😉

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Young girl holds purple plastic toy camera in front of her face while sitting in a red chair with toys in background and smiling mom helping her kids with homeschool work for amazing ways to keep siblings busy and happy so you can enjoy your homeschool day

3. Have your child draw, read, or write

Prepare mess-free arts and crafts supplies in a storage container.

My boys have used empty shoe boxes and pencil pouches for fun drawing utensils like color pencils, washable markers, Kwik Stix, and crayons. Give your kids these free printable doodle prompts to help them avoid deer-in-headlights, blank paper stare.

If your child is able to read, set up an area for them to read aloud to siblings, stuffed animals, or the family pet. This activity allows them to work on reading skills while you work with another child.

And kids of all ages can enjoy listening to an audiobook!

Another great activity to keep siblings busy is writing. Younger kids use handwriting sheets or simply scribble on a piece of paper. Older kids can benefit from copy work (like these free growth mindset quotes and copywork pages) or creative writing promptscreative writing prompts.

 

4. Put kids to work

Got chores that need to be done? (What homeschool mom doesn’t?!?)

Give your kids easy-to-do tasks that can be done without your constant attention. Create a list of chores that you can assign to keep siblings busy, like sorting laundry, dusting, and emptying trash bins.

Assigning chores does take a bit of prep work. I recommend walking your kids through the chore step-by-step outside of your homeschool time. Make your expectations clear and explain the purpose of the activity.

For example, if I’m working with one of my older boys on math, I’ll have my younger boys (5, 8, 10) sort laundry by family member. I remind the boys that their help frees up my time from chores so that we have more time for family fun 😉 

 

5. Build and use a rotation system

If you have several children, build a rotation system into your homeschool day. Depending on your ages and stages, you can set up homeschool work stations. Kids can rotate between activities while you move between stations giving instructions and help.

Our homeschool thrives with a flexible routine with a built-in rotation system. We all gather for our homeschool morning time. Then, we break into small groups, according to age and stage.

My older boys will start an online program, like VideoText Interactive Math or Mango Languages German. While the older boys are working online, I will work on a small rotation of history, art appreciation, and faith formation. When the older boys are done, the younger boys may watch a documentary or work on a puzzle as I tackle world geography with the older ones. 

This rotation is not carved in stone. I’m all about relaxed flexible planning to meet my boys’ where they are and to maintain my sanity!

 

When you need to keep siblings busy and happy, the main thing is not to give up. Strive to keep your patience and stay creative. You’ll have to try different ideas and activities. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else until you find the right fit for your children and family.

Remember:  you CAN successfully homeschool multiple ages! You’ve got what it takes and you ARE enough 🙂

 

Want to know more about keeping siblings busy & happy so you can enjoy your homeschool day?
Leave your questions in the comments area below!

 

boy playing with toy cars and mom with kids smiling to feature how to keep siblings busy and happy for a successful homeschool day

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