Homework time at my home can be loud and chaotic. Very loud and chaotic. Spread all over the first floor. Did I mention loud and chaotic? I am reminded of my homeschooling days, and why I stopped homeschooling. I really struggled with homeschooling my oldest while having babies and taking care of the little ones.
This year I have 4 children in elementary school, and one in high school. Finally, I don’t need to plan activities to keep a toddler or preschooler occupied while I help the older kids with their homework.
I’m still struggling though I’m finding some ways to deal with the chaos. Not every day goes well, though most days are okay. Using timers and homework checklists really help. Here are suggestions to help your homework time be okay, too if you have younger ones still at home.
Keep Little Ones Busy During Homework Time
Send the little ones outside to play.
If you have an enclosed yard, this strategy works really well. If I found the preschooler interrupting a lot while the older ones are doing their homework, I sent him out to play in our yard which has a dirt pile complete with toys. When my daughter was in Kindergarten she would go out with him since she didn’t have much to do.
Special boxes of manipulatives only for homework time
Thanks to my homeschooling days, I still have lots of math manipulatives like Cuisinaire rods, pattern blocks, and linking cubes. I keep these in boxes making it easy to pull out a few activities at homework time and put them away. I have my children use a tray with the manipulatives to keep them visually and physically contained.
Printables and workbooks
I am a big fan of Enchanted Learning. I think I’ve been a member off and on for about 6 to 7 years. Membership runs about $20/year and provides access to lots of great pre-reader and easy reader worksheets and short books. The Dollar Store is another good resource for consumable workbooks, and don’t forget to stock up on crayons during the back to school sales in August.
Make Montessori sensory activities
Montessori activities were a huge hit with my little ones. At the time, I had one of those small Ikea tables and chairs set up in the corner of the dining room. Again, I used a tray to contain the items, and to contain spills if the little ones were doing eye dropper activity.
Sign up for a monthly subscription for an activity box
In September 2012, my 4 year old and I reviewed Education.com’s Wonder Box. Targeted towards the preschool/Kindergarten crowd, the Wonder Box is one way to give your little one something special to do while the big kids are doing their homework. Even though some of the items in the box were consumable, my 4 year old continued to pull out his cape, puppet, and story cards from time to time. You could extend the activities in the Wonder Box by pulling in activities and worksheets on Enchanted Learning.
Elementary age kids usually need to read 10 to 15 minutes each night. Your student can read aloud to his younger siblings for his homework, or you can read to everyone. This helps the younger sibling(s) feel included.
If you keep a craft box handy filled with easy to use supplies or simple kits from the craft store, you’ll be all set for homework time. One of my favorite crafts is rolling out paper on the floor and giving the kids foam stickers and crayons for decorating the paper or creating their own city. Our Michael’s Craft Store carries inexpensive foam craft kits at holiday time. My 4 year old loved the Halloween and Thanksgiving ones.