Jan 10, 2011

How to Teach Five Little Kids without Losing Your Mind

We are back in school after our four week break that really lasted nearly six weeks. In my our defence, we did do some schoolwork in the form of Christmas fun and some TOS reviews that we had to work on. So we didn't spend six weeks in total sloth. It does feel good to get back into the routine, even if that routine is different than it was before we took our break. I officially started Kevin (the boy I babysit) in preschool, so now I have five "full time" students and Gracie enjoying some Totschool fun. Juggling the three youngest students has not been as difficult as I thought.
I actually get asked A LOT by people just how I teach so many young kids all at the same time, so I am going to share my secrets...
The first one is... workboxes. They are truly wonderful. If you have read my post on workboxes, you know I don't "follow the book", but tweak our boxes to fit my needs. And, naturally, that changes from time to time.
The second secret is... taking turns. I am continually reminding small people that they need to wait until I am finished with the child at hand before I can help them. This is a hard lesson, but patience, is, after all, a virtue. I have also perfected the technique of thirty-second grading. I can look at a finished project, assess, and say, "Oh, good job! Now put it away and do your next box." in thirty seconds or less. :) Well, maybe not that fast, but quickly enough that the child I am helping doesn't mind the pause.
The third secret is... group work. If we can do it all together at the same time, we do. Kaytie and Nate have always worked together, and I'm now including Daniel and Abbie into the same science read-alouds and we all do handwriting as a group. Daniel and Abbie do Bible together, and I'm expecting to be able to do more and more together as they get older. We also have a Circle Time where we sing, "exercise" and do all of our "good citizenship" activities.
The final secret is... juggling. :) I have learned to load the workboxes in such a way that all of the independent work is at the front. That way I have more time to work with Kevin and Gracie while Daniel and Abbie are coloring and Kaytie and Nate are reading, working on maps, and/or their Bible memory verses. Then, hopefully, by the time Daniel and Abbie need me, Kevin is finished, or ready to color. And by the time Kaytie and Nate need me, the little kids are all ready to go play. On a good day, that is how it works.


One More Equals Four said...

Workboxes are such a blessing! They have made a HUGE difference. I will say, at times I still struggle juggling three and having a toddler BUT part of that is because of our tutorial set up there is very little we can do as group work, therefore EVERYTHING is individual and sometimes I just feel like I need a clone. Hope your start up is smooth. We got a mini break today because of snow. Played part of the day and worked part of the day. I was secretly hoping for a snow day from tutorial tomorrow but it doesn't look too likely, shucks!

tracy said...

I use a lot of worksheets off the internet, there are so many out there free to print out and use they make it so much easier.

Kattie said...

Wow, you do balance a lot!! I am looking forward to planning tot school/preschool activities for my little ones this fall. I will definately check out your workboxes and any other tips you share :)


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