Keeping Preschoolers Busy

This is kind of a homeschooling week here at The Sargeant’s Arrows as we are on week seven of the second year of our homeschooling journey. I’m finally feeling like we’re getting into a smooth and regular routine now.

The kids wake up and know what most of the day will hold for them. For some reason that just makes things run a little more smoothly when they know what to expect. Especially for my oldest.

I think we had such a routine and schedule down when he was an only child that he just thrives with knowing what to expect.

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Something that has really helped us this year is him having his own planner, similar to my lesson planner.  We actually just kind of stumbled on this idea when we were given planners by our charter for each of the kids. His was custom made by his charter, but here is a similar one.

Each week, I write down all of his assignments and any extra activities we may have that week.  I let him know this is the work I expect to have done before we can do the fun things at the end of the week and on the weekend. 

In addition to him being able to know in advance what’s happening, I think it also teaches him to be able to self-manage. And so far, he’s been able to regulate his work on his own fairly well. We usually need some reminding of the stakes, but all in all, he does well with this approach. 

It’s also helped us to tackle some of the fighting and arguing over “How much more do I have left?” complaints. And he’s become very independent with his work and coming to me when he really needs help. It’s been a great lesson for the both of us!

I’ve even noticed that the independence the planner has given my oldest has given me time to work with my youngest, so win-win!

But now on to what I really wanted to talk about today, helping out those homeschooling mommas with non-school-aged littles while they continue to encourage and support their bigger kiddos.

The first thing I would suggest is to include your preschooler in the lessons as much as you can! Those little sponges pick up so much information this way! 

For example, we start our day off with a devotional that we work through all week long with different hands-on activities to really drive the point home! My three year old loves doing the activities just as much as my big boys do! And surprisingly, she’s learning and interacting right along with them!

Also, we do science experiments and field trips instead of just reading a science text book.  This is a great opportunity for my daughter to help us out and get her hands dirty too!

I’ve even noticed the boys trying to teach small concepts to her. Aw, the sweetness!

Not only does this make her feel like a big kid, but it also cements the concepts in the boys’ minds as well, which just makes my heart happy!

When you include them in these hands-on activities even if you think they’re too young to understand or do them correctly, they’re just so excited to be a part of it that they tend to follow the instructions a little better than they probably would normally.  So don’t worry how it turns out, they’ll be ecstatic either way!  

Another idea that we use often is to have a couple workbooks, coloring books, or dry erase tracing books, like this or this, that can only be used during the time that big brothers are doing school work.

My daughter sits at the table with us and “works” on her books while I help brothers, but typically I find moments where I can interact and help her as well.  By keeping these books ONLY for school time, it keeps them exciting and she doesn’t get bored with them as quickly as something she has access too all the time.  It also makes her feel super special because she thinks she has her own school books too! And is super excited when Dad gets home to show him!

Another fun idea is to have busy bags ready to go! Again, hold onto these for them only to do while you need to work with an older kiddo, and probably not every day! Make a rotation of different activities for them!  It makes it that much more special for them! 

Some fun ideas for busy bags:

  1. Wiffle ball with pipe cleaners. They can see if they can get a certain color into all the holes. Or count how many can fit inside the ball.

  2. Popsicle sticks with velcro on the ends. They can put them together to make shapes, letters, or anything else they can imagine! I find they tend to do better with some direction on what to make though.

  3. A piece of ribbon with a button sewn onto the ends and felt shapes of differing colors. They can practice their buttoning skills by feeding the button through a hole cut into the middle of the shapes. This is great for those fine motor skills!

One of our other favorite busy ideas so mom can get things done too is paint in a zip lock bag! 

Finger painting without the mess! 

Seriously, this is amazing! I actually did it with my oldest when I needed just a few minutes to get a task done and it has brought so much sanity to this momma with all three kiddos, let me tell you! 

Couple tips for that activity:

  1. Make sure to get washable paint! Sometimes those little finger nails are a little too sharp on the plastic zip lock bag and can break open. Don’t worry, this has only happened to me once!  

Which leads me to another tip…

2.  Make sure you cut their nails first! See tip 1!

3.  Use a good zip lock bag!

4.  Use masking tape or packing tape to at least tape the zip lock area shut! Mine would have totally opened and emptied the bag themselves if I didn’t do this! 

5.  I would also tape all 4 sides down to a window (super fun for them) or a plastic table mat or even cardboard.

6. Have them draw letters or shapes or mix the colors. So many endless ideas for them!

(Last minute number 7: Don’t do this near carpet! Enough said)

And lastly, include them in reading together! Even if the book has no pictures and they totally have no idea what’s going on!

Mine loves to sit and cuddle with everyone else on the couch while we read! Sometimes she gets a little antsy, but I just let her decide if she’ll sit with us or not and she usually wants to! By hearing you read, even without understanding what it is you’re reading, they are picking up on so much more which will in turn help them when they are ready to start learning to read on their own! You can even have your older kiddos read to the preschool kiddos! This is also great for both of them and we’ve done this numerous times. The sibling bonding during that time is so joyous to see!

I hope this article has been helpful to you!

Let me know in the comments what you do to keep your preschooler occupied! 

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