Ok. So I am a teacher. Currently at home with four children aged 2, 4, 6 and 7. We are in between schools so I am home educating. But it's really hard.
My two eldest have been very much ahead at their private school. I feel like I am letting them down. My 4 year old finds reading and writing hard and I so want to be able to immerse myself with her. But how can you do it when they all have such different needs?
They do reading eggs, maths whizz, love horrible history and various education sites. But when it comes to other things we just wander and then end up do
Sorry. Too early.
Doing nothing. They also do kumon. But when it comes to writing I have no ideas which is not good being a teacher. It is the age difference that causes me to falter.
I know everyone says to just go with the flow and learn as we live. But I would like something more structured. They were pushed at school and need that or they end up on cheese strings!!!!
Does anyone have any tips or sources which provide some kind of lesson plans/structures?
My husband thinks it should be easy to teach them all as I am used to it. But at school you brainstorm as a team, only have a set age usually and have lots of resources and children to bounce ideas off each other. Help!!
How long a period are you talking about?
Advice for a few weeks would be different from advice for a few months.
We are waiting for a school place which I really hope will come up around September time. Obviously it won't happen overnight for all of them. So there could be another half year at home possibly.
To expand, we have been offered a place at a school with a poor reputation and lots of advice to wait for an alternative. All the waiting lists in the area are long. But we will wait.
If your two eldest are already very much ahead, is there really a need to keep up the pace in the standard curriculum areas? Might it be more fun to take the opportunity to branch out into topics they wouldn't have been able to do so readily at school, where the differences between them will be less important and where they won't need so much pushing because they've chosen to do it for themselves?
For example, maybe they would like to immerse themselves in art, or take up a new language or musical instrument. You could all go on some museum or zoo visits, or go along to historical sites where each child could be learning different things from the visit. You could go on some nature walks and see what you find. These activities don't always have to involve a high level of planning on your part in order for the children to learn from them. Home education can look very different to school. In particular you can allow for more serendipity because you don't have to worry that complete chaos will descend if you don't have everyone engaged in an activity at the same time. It's OK if only one or two of your children take an interest in the beetle they've just found while others are sweeping the path with a branch or collecting stones.
Summer is just around the corner, so getting out will be easier and more fun than it has been. Many families are feeling rather cooped up and frustrated at the moment!
If you are keen to keep your 4yo engaged with reading, what about reading aloud to the whole family or enjoying audiobooks together while they are drawing, using Lego or curling up to listen? You could keep the focus on her needs by leaning towards whichever stories you think will appeal to her.
I would agree with Saracen-perhaps work on a project that interests them and bring in the practical e.g. gardening and cooking would bring in science and maths and more besides.
You could have a rethink if it goes on beyond September.
Enjoy books with all of them, but especially the 4 yr old.
We do formal work first thing in the morn on whatever we happen to be intersted in currrently and this is where I worm in Maths and English daily in a more curriculum style. Then the day just flows into what ever crops up, for example a tv program sparking a discussion, a question sparking a demonstration from me, a problem occuring for which I send them to the net to find a solution, a trip out leading to ideas for future trips. We pick a termly or weekly topic (or rather a topic which is finished when it is finished) and I create a mind map of ideas of what to do or research and what resources we need. It is a good way of making a topic cross curricular, and in your case differentiated by age. Each day I tick some things of the mind map that we cover or add a new branch to explore as I also react to what the child wants/enjoys/needs help with.
With one to one support, the children can achieve as much in an hour as they do in a whole day at school. Therefore don't panic that you are not pushing them enough. With good home schooling, they will start to push themselves - they will want to learn and they will do it for themselves.
Have you read How children learn at home by Alan Thomas? Really worth it and very useful for getting a window into other home Ed families.
I think HE is probably harder for a teacher than for anyone else, because teachers are enculturated into the idea that education is something you do to other people rather than something that people do for themselves. I mean this in a kindly supportive way - I'm thinking it's probably harder for you to let go of trying to keep a cohort paddling along in roughly the same direction than it is for someone whose main experience of spending lots of time with a group of differently-aged children is with their own pre-schoolers, where we are all much better at letting go of the idea that there need to be external stimuli for learning to happen.
THere are some good ideas from Saracen upthread.
In your shoes, I'd also have the older children making treasure hunts for the 4 year old (while you make one for the older children, with alternating clues). In our house, there are always puzzle clues, maths clues (with solutions and wrong solutions on pieces of paper blutacked to the kitchen cupboards/drawers, and the next clue is hidden in the drawer/cupbaord behind the right answer), clues in foreign languages (google translate - and I get the child(ren) to listen to the google translate bot reading it out in the foreign language, then have a stab at pronouncing it themselves before reading the English translation). You can have trivia clues where the answer is somewhere in the Usborne encyopedia of you-name-it.
We tend to bake a batch of cookies/similar treat first, then while they are in the oven, the treasure hunt gets created. Then, astonishing, voila, the final clue leads to the prize of... the thing everyone just baked. It's a total swizz as prizes go but I'm still getting away with it!
THe biggest thing is to remember that education product is necessary when you have a class of 30, because you can't have a conversation with each child to establish what they understand, so you really need written evidence. With four children, you can just talk with them - they'll tell you what they know, what they want to know, what they don't understand. Lots of your learning (even all of it?) can happen through "purposive conversation" within a family. A story that is made up and told to a sibling is just as valuable as one that gets written down in an exercise book, for example.
Just wanted to say thank you so much for such wonderful replies. Thanks for taking the time to help me. Some fabulous ideas for me to try. We are getting there slowly but some valid points made about relaxing the curriculum side of things slightly. Thanks again.
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