Do you teach the younger after you finish with the older ones, or first thing in the morning while the older ones do chores or read?
This is something that will largely have to be determined by your own family dynamics. In general, I would say it’s probably best
to do some special things with the little fellows first filling up their love buckets while the olders do their morning chores, grooming, or subjects they don’t need your help with (copywork, memorization, etc). It might help if you can get a routine going- something I was absolutely terrible at doing, so this is somewhat of a do as I say, not as I did.
Here’s what I mean-
-Set things up so that the older children know what they are supposed to do as far as morning chores and grooming.
-One or two school subjects they should begin with and do independently
-Then set out something a little different a few mornings to keep things varied:
- A poem ready to listen to outloud from libravox, and a direction to sketch a picture of something the poem makes them think of.
- A map of somewhere they’ve been reading about for them to label, colour, trace. Or a map card for Geosafari.
- Set the microscope up with a glass side already for them to look at and ask them to sketch what they see.
- A Bible verse to look up, and then copy.
- A math page with just 5 problems on it for them to do.
- A science experiment they can do independently. I have a shared a few on the blog, as well as links to other sites you might find helpful.
While the older children are doing their chores and morning grooming (teeth, hair, getting dressed)- which may well be something you have to supervise and oversee and remind them to continue diligently- do something with the youngers. Feed them, play with them, get them dressed, snuggle, read, romp.
Then, just before the older children are ready to do schoolwork with your closer involvement, get the youngers set up as much as you can with something else- blocks to stack, seashells and pinecones to sort, balls to roll (give them some empty water bottles to knock down with the ball).
I’m not saying this will work beautifully and without a hitch. It won’t. There will be interruptions, lack of cooperation, whining, stubbornness, laziness- and the children might misbehave, too. But it will go better than it might if you don’t have some sort of plans in place, and overtime, if you are steady in your efforts, things will improve. It takes time, and remember to keep an eye on things. Do not expect what you don’t inspect.
You can also rotate the older children so that one of them is playing with the younger children while you are doing something with the other older children/child. I did this for a time when our youngest two were a baby and toddler who were into everything. It helped a lot if I actually assigned the older children specific things to do with their younger siblings- and these assignments were based on the older children’s abilities and talents.
Examples: One child was asked to sing one or two folk songs with the littles (Old McDonald, Hokey Pokey, Itsy Bitsy Spider), another to color or string beads on pipe cleaners (easier than stringing on string), two were sent to take the little ones out in the backyard, another child might read a book or play ring around the rosey. I have at least 101 things you or your older children can do with younger children in the index card files category on the blog.
In addition, try varying the lessons so that you alternate topics that require intense mom with scholar time with things you can all do together- hymns, folk songs, nature walks, listening to poetry or classical music, picture study, Bible stories.
Slow and steady progress, that’s the goal.