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View Full Version : Two kids - neither can work independently



dottieanna29
01-27-2011, 10:02 AM
I'm wondering if anyone has any creative ideas for doing school with two kids when neither is doing much (anything) independently.

Next fall I'm planning to start doing some things with my youngest (she will be 4). She already knows letters and sounds (thanks to LeapFrog) and numbers/counting to 10. Most of it is going to be games with maybe HWT Prek and Funnix (FREE) phonics program added in. I'm thinking of doing some FIAR-style book units as well (I have a ton of free ones from all over the place) with both of them. DS is doing AAS, ETC, MEP (although I think we are switching to MM) - he can read at a Green Eggs and Ham level and is about 1st grade level in Math (could start MM with 2A if we had ever covered place value). We will do science, history/social studies, art/music, etc. together.

Working at the same time doesn't work. DS will want to do dd's work, answer the questions for her, not pay attention to his own stuff, etc. DD steals his papers, grabs the markers, screams randomly.

Possibilities:
Alternate throughout the day. Do 15 minutes with ds, then 15 minutes with dd. The problem is finding something to amuse them on their "off" 15 minutes and getting them back in when it's their turn again.

I saw on another forum about working with them on different days. We do main subjects (math, reading) in the morning and our group subjects in the afternoon so this could work. Word with ds Tuesday and Thursday mornings, dd Wednesday and Friday (or something like that). We don't school Monday because I'm doing laundry and trying to restore the house to something resembling order after the weekend.

Try to work with them together but find a way to separate them so they aren't distracting each other/stealing each others work. We have no choice but to work in the same room so I'm not sure. We do have two small folding tables that we work at so I could theoretically have them facing different directions. It would be hard for me to watch both of them but I guess it could be done.

Any suggestions or comments? I've considered taking some time off but both love "doing school" and would just watch way too much tv without it plus I think I'd have the same problems if I waited until they were 6 and 8 years old.

Edited to add: I can pretty much do whatever I want since I live in NJ. There is no reporting, no testing, no portfolio, no set number of days, nothing at all that needs to be done.

Teri
01-27-2011, 10:17 AM
Since they are both so young, do you really need a separate curriculum for your daughter? I didn't really work with my girls when they were that age. If they were interested in "doing school", I would include them in the things that they could be included in (like listening to read-alouds, science experiments, coloring pages) and then I would work with Joseph for math. I didn't have separate 4 year old designated math time. I did buy the Saxon math manipulative set and let them play with it on their own, without instruction.

dbmamaz
01-27-2011, 10:22 AM
Of course mine are older, but one thing you can do is give the other one something high interest (but maybe lower value) to do while you work with one. Like educational tv shows or computer games, or leap frog games, or something like that. You could probably even get more than 15 minutes out of it. You can play games where you give the younger one a handicap - for example, play candy land but the older one has to roll two dice and add the numbers instead of using the color dice.

Topsy
01-27-2011, 10:27 AM
I wondered if you had considered an independently-geared curriculum for at least one of the kiddos? Time4Learning was a big help for us in that area. My youngest had a VERY hard time working independently until T4L came along - - then he was totally happy to work on his math and language arts while I did something else with his older brother. Just a thought...

StartingOver
01-27-2011, 11:02 AM
The only way I get anything done with a 4.6 year old and a 3.10 year old. Is to have the exact same thing for both kids. LOL Emma does the same sheets of handwriting by coloring all over them, as Quince is doing his. They do math together, Saxon 1 and Saxon K. They both sit while I read aloud. Quince does his OPGTR on one white board, then I do Emma's on another. She thinks she is the same age as her big brother. So we include her as if she is.

Good luck........ this would have never worked with my older set though. We had to do 15 minute increments.

KristinK
01-27-2011, 11:46 AM
I would definately pick stuff that the 4yr old can just do on her own. at that age they really don't *need* a real curriculum of any kind (IMO). You can just give her new colouring sheets, or cut/paste work, etc that she CAN do on her own. (even if it's just cutting a pile of magazines into strips!). beading, gluing buttons to paper in patterns, etc. There's alot of stuff that she could do on her own, while you're at your son's side to actually help him.

Aside from that, part of what I do, when I need to work with my 7yr old, I time it so that the 3&5yr olds are on the computer. They can entertain themselves without me, and it's not just zoning out to tv. And I can focus on helping the 7yr old (who then gets her computer time when her work is done, and I can focus on the other 2). Can your 4yr old do some computer stuff on her own (like Starfall)?

good luck! figuring out how to juggle the kids is HARD!

zette
01-27-2011, 12:07 PM
How about books on tape or some similar thing that reads stories to your 4 yo?

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-27-2011, 12:33 PM
Working at the same time doesn't work. DS will want to do dd's work, answer the questions for her, not pay attention to his own stuff, etc. DD steals his papers, grabs the markers, screams randomly.

My kids are the same way. I just can't have them doing math or writing together--both need one-on-one attention for those subjects and they are both easily distracted. Starting this month, I've had one sit on the couch with a stack of books while I work with the other at the dining room table. If my son disrupts us, I give him a time out (which is makes the disruption longer, but will hopefully teach him to leave us alone). They can do all the other subjects together, which is feasable because they are only 18 months apart in age.

dottieanna29
01-27-2011, 12:51 PM
Thank you for all the replies. I had a really long response to everyone typed out and then our cable modem went down thanks to the snow.

Jana and Monkeymama - How do you handle the transitions? Do you set a timer so they know how much "free" time they have? Any hints on making the transition back to work (or off the computer/tv/leapster) easier? Did switching every 15 minutes work well once it was routine? or was it still hard to get them back?

StartingOver
01-27-2011, 01:29 PM
Dorothy, the kids know clearly that they have time limits. They know they can go back to their previous activity after they finish reading, phonics, math, etc. We don't set a timer, as the 15 minutes isn't always exact. When we are having fun with something educational, I never stop for the clock. Sometimes we run over a bit. If there is an issue getting back on task, then they just get less free time. So mine are usually very eager to get finished.

raegan
01-27-2011, 10:49 PM
I don't have much for you, no btdt, but as i looked thought a lot of workbox setups, i noticed a number of pics/setups had the kids physically separated by the workboxes/towers so they'd stay out of siblings' biznizz. I thought that was a pretty good idea...but mine aren't going to be independent for a long time, so I sort of just filed that away for future reference if needed, yk?

Busygoddess
01-27-2011, 11:38 PM
If you have to have them in the same room, working at the same time, you could try giving htem each a desk or even a TV tray to work at. That way, they don't have ot be right next ot each other. There's also the option of using the dining room table, one at each end. You could even cut a tri-fold display board in half, give one child the top half & the other the bottom half. They could have them set up on the table, so they can't see each other (less distractions). You could even attach a pencil case to each, to hold their basic supplies. A checklist of assignments for the day could be attached. You could use chalkboard paint or a self-adhesive chalkboard, to give them each their own chalkboard. Basically, giving each their own little area, even though they're in the same room. This would be especially helpful if both are working on different things at the same time & you need to go back & forth between them.

My son can do some of his work independently, but only a few subjects. So, I work with my daughter while my son is doing his computer time, his quiet reading time, or watching an educational show. Maybe you could trade off - one watches an educational show or does educational computer time (Starfall, PBS, etc.) and you work with the other. After 30 min, they switch. I find 30 min easier than 15, especially when involving tv or dvds. Most shows are 30 minutes long, not 15. So, you can tell them "You can watch 1 episode, then it's time for Math." That way, when the episode is done, they know it's time for Math. Timers work for a lot of kids, too "You can play on PBS until the timer goes off, then it's time for reading."

Just some random ideas.

Stella M
01-28-2011, 01:12 AM
We alternated for book work and tried to do a lot of interest-type learning together the rest of the time. I'd forgotten how tricky it is to have more than one non-independent learner. I'm trying to remember how we alternated - I seem to remember younger dd watching Playschool. Oh yeah, now I remember. We used TV :( Educational stuff. Of course! I think I fed the baby then too to keep him quiet. I don't really know. It's all a blur. Take heart - it gets way easier once one child is reading a little.

dottieanna29
01-28-2011, 08:30 AM
Thanks everyone. Lots of ideas.

Part of the problem is anything one of them is doing while not doing school - television, computer, toys - is also of extreme interest to the other one. But, if the television watcher is in their room and the school-worker is at the kitchen table it could work. We even have a bunch of stuff dvr'd so even if I'm not paying attention to the one 1/2 hour show limit - it will automatically stop when it's done. I kind of dread using tv like this but when we are not getting any school done they end up watching way too often anyway. At least this way, they're doing school too.

I think doing as much as we can together (read aloud, fiar-type picture book activities, history, science, art, music, etc.), then alternating by 1/2 hour dvr'd shows with one in the bedroom watching while the other works with me at the kitchen table - might be our best plan at least for now. And, at least for ds, if he doesn't cooperate on getting his work done in that 1/2 hour he can lose computer time later on. DD's "work" is pretty much going to be optional just to give her some one-on-one time, get her used to doing stuff and keep her from just watching the tv all day long.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-28-2011, 09:07 AM
Jana and Monkeymama - How do you handle the transitions? Do you set a timer so they know how much "free" time they have? Any hints on making the transition back to work (or off the computer/tv/leapster) easier? Did switching every 15 minutes work well once it was routine? or was it still hard to get them back?

I don't use a timer because the lesson may take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes (daughter can get on a roll and doesn't want to stop sometimes!). It is usually not a problem getting the other one to transition to work time if they have been reading on the couch. I find it is much harder to transition from playing or computer games. I find it's easier when both kids are in "school mode." If one kid is doing something fun, the other resents having to do school work first. Oh, and I also try to have the materials (math workbook, writing paper, etc.) for the second kid already set up when it's time to transition so that we can jump right in as soon as the first kids is done.

Our morning routine typically is: table work with each kid back to back, then do one thing with them together (e.g. history story, science picture book, a chapter of a read aloud), then take a long break. Sometimes I read to them while they have snacks or eat lunch (captive audience!). Repeat in the afternoon.

MamaTea
02-01-2011, 10:54 PM
My boys are first and second grade (12 months apart in age). We do a few things together when the day starts out (one of the reasons its so nice having them close in age) but when we get to writing or math or reading we have to split up. They are so competitive we were getting nothing done. So we finish our "together school time" and then we move on to separate time. We switch back and forth each day on who starts seperate time first. Whoever isn't having school at that moment is upstairs doing whatever - within reason. We have do our school stuff in the lower level of our home. :) Whoever starts school first gets all their work done with me (whatever it happens to be that day, and however long it takes...ten minutes or two hours) and then the other child has their school. Sometimes we will stop and have lunch in between, depending on what time it is or how long things are taking. I find separating them has really helped the stress in the house, and they are concentrating much more on what they are doing! :)

KristinK
02-02-2011, 01:27 PM
ooh I'm liking the idea of the trifold-display separators...

Dorothy I know what you mean about the "other stuff" being so distracting for the kid doing work. We're seemingly constantly battling that, as everyone wants to watch everyone else have computer time, etc. Drives me batty to see them all watching each other. One thing that helps is that the one on the computer wears headphones, so there's no audio distraction for those that are working. I keep struggling to set up a computer space that is still under my supervision, but not easily "watchable" by the other kids.

BrendaE
02-08-2011, 09:30 PM
ooh I'm liking the idea of the trifold-display separators...

Dorothy I know what you mean about the "other stuff" being so distracting for the kid doing work. We're seemingly constantly battling that, as everyone wants to watch everyone else have computer time, etc. Drives me batty to see them all watching each other. One thing that helps is that the one on the computer wears headphones, so there's no audio distraction for those that are working. I keep struggling to set up a computer space that is still under my supervision, but not easily "watchable" by the other kids.



Ive seen people buy those trifold poster boards, let the kids decorate it with their names and their own pictures and art etc... they are big enough to block out the view of the tv from the dining room table too. Then when everything is over they are simply folded up and put away... these people kept theirs between the fridge and the counter/cabinets.

Kylie
02-09-2011, 06:09 AM
I think you need to cut yourself some slack, using the computer and educational tv as a filler isn't going to be happening forever.

My kiddos can not sit near each other and it has taken us 3 years to find some kind of workable day and now I have 2 year old wanting to do school!

I set him up with some Montessori type tray activites that are completely independent bar removing the lid from the glue etc. This normally keeps him going for roughly an hour which is about the same time it takes my son to complete his independent work and the same I need to spend with my daughter doing her work.

Of course my dd always wants to do the toddlers activities and she can, AFTER her work is done.

I always keep my eye out for independent learning tools, we have learning stiles do you guys have those things....I'm sure you would over there, these are great.

At the end of the day you need to do what you need to do and this time next things will probably be looking a lot differently

dottieanna29
02-09-2011, 07:10 AM
I love the idea of the tri-fold separators but our table is literally so small it would leave no room to do work. We have an extremely small kitchen nook set. We don't ever actually eat at it. It serves as a desk for my laptop and any paperwork I'm working on and that pretty much takes up all the space. My laptop literally takes up 1/2 of it.

Kylie - I think I need to remember that this is a temporary phase and I should be taking the time to enjoy it instead of finding ways around it. I've decided to add more fun pre-school type stuff in for my dd and allow my son to participate too. Some fun, directed time with them both should make his sit-down work go easier for all of us. And, I need to relax. He's only 5, he's working ahead of where he'd be in ps (which is not even there yet), there's no rush.

What are learning stiles?

Kylie
02-14-2011, 04:26 PM
http://www.funstartforkids.com/tilesystems There are a few brands around, I have Learning Ladder ones, but these will give you an idea.