Teaching Mulitiple Ages/Abilities/Stages

July 26, 2007 at 10:33 am (Uncategorized)

JR asks:

My three kids are spaced almost the same as your three. Any advice on how to manage and DO fun things/school things/project with three different abilities, learning styles and developmental stages?

Well, this is a great question and one that I have struggled with a lot having kids that are 3, 6 and (almost) 13.  Here are some things I do.

When it comes to crafts and projects around the house:

1.  Let everyone work to their own ability.  I always include all my kids when we do a project, but I don’t expect the 3 year old to perform like the (almost) 13 year old or the 6 year old.  One example of this in when we Mummified Barbie’s.  I really did not think my 3 year old would want to mummify his GI Joe I bought at the thrift store.  I explained to him when we started that if he didn’t want to do it he could keep his GI Joe the way it was and play with it.  I even told him that once it was "Mummified" it would be hard and he probably would not want to play with it.  Well, he saw the other kids dipping and wrapping their Barbie’s/GI Joe’s and wanted to do his.  You know what?  He loves that silly mummy!  LOL  Much to my surprise eh frequently carries it around and plays with it.  he loves to show it to people when they come over.  He is proud of his mummy.  Now what I expected, but a fine outcome indeed!

2. Have alternate activities for the younger ones.  I usually have color books, puzzles, markers, stickers, etc. That way when my 3 year old tires of what we are doing I can hand him something on his own level that will keep him entertained and at the table with us.

3. Let the little ones wander in and out.  I don’t require my kids under 6 to stay "on task"  I invite them to do what we are doing, but if they want to wander in and out I let them.  If they start a project and don’t finish it I usually finish it for them.  That way they can be proud of their finished project because they did put some effort into it, even though they didn’t do it all.

4. Set aside some time to do activities aimed more specifically at the youngest child’s abilities. This is probably the one I struggle with the most.  My 3 year old is so happy doing what the older kids are doing I don’t always remember to do things just for him.  But, I do try every so often to pull out a a really simple craft for him (The older kids are welcome to join in!) and I try to get out the felt board stories on a semi-regular basis.  I let him pick a book at bedtime every night and I try to play whatever he is in to with him a little each day.  (Right now it is building rocket ships out of blocks!  LOL)

5. Let the older ones help the younger ones. This is HUGE!  I remember when I was pregnant with my 2nd child saying something to my husband about not knowing how I would do all the things with #2 that I had done with #1.  He replied "You won’t have to.  The older sibling will do a lot of it for you!"  Wow, was he right!  I am amazed how much my older 2 kids like to teach their younger brother.  When I need a chance to work with one of the older kids one on one I can almost always count on the other sibling taking the 3 year old and doing something with him.  It is a lifesaver for me!  It is also so cool to see things he know and realize his siblings taught him that!  (He currently knows the entire Spiderman theme song and it was taught to him by his big brother!  LOL  I would have never taught it to him, but he sure is cute singing it!)

6. Realize that some days just go CrAzY!   – Contrary to what you may think from reading my blog, some days are just awful!  I have admitted before that I am a cup half full kind of person!  I usually don’t blog about the days we are all crabby, fighting and nothing I do makes anyone happy!  LOL But there are days were nothing goes right and we are all mad at each other and we just have to stop and go to our separate corners and try again the next day.  That’s okay!  We are all human we get cranky, we make mistakes.  When these days happen I usually just put everything away and forget about school for that day.  Maybe we would go to the park.  Maybe they all need rest so we watch a movie.  Maybe we all need space so we go do our own things.  Don’t get upset with yourself when you have a bad day.  Trust me, we all have them!

When it comes to field trips:

I find that field trips can be a real challenge with a wide age span.  Here are some things I have done that are helpful.

1. realize you cannot do everything that is available for every age.  Sometimes I see a great field trip posted for ages 6 -11.  I usually have to tell myself "Bummer" because if we all can’t do it, no one can!

2.  Team up with other Mom’s. Let them take your kid on the field trip and offer to stay home with any of her kids that are too small.

3. If the field trip is really "can’t miss" plan ahead  – See if Dad can take off to help or get another teen homeschooler to watch your younger kids.  I have done both of these things and some of the field trips that would have been impossible for me to do with 3 kids alone were great with a little help.

4. If you are going on a planned field trip through your homeschool group ask if strollers are okay.  I hate showing up with a sleeping little one (After having driven around the block for an hour to get to sleep!  LOL) only to find out I must wake him up taking him out of the stroller!

I hope this helps answer your question JR.  Thanks for asking!

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