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  1. #1

    Default Struggling with 2 kids close in age

    I get my niece during the day to homeschool along with my daughter. They are 5 and 6. We started kindergarten in July. I thought since they are close in age I would teach them together. However, my niece is struggling with the reading lessons. So, I have started doing the lesson with my daughter before my niece arrives then I do a lesson with my niece. I need some ideas for keeping my daughter busy while I am teaching my niece. We live in Florida and do our lessons outside. So my daughter could run around the yard and play but she just wants to be nearby. I wonder if I should give her some type of extra school work or just let her play. We have tried coloring, play dough, and sticker book. These worked but she is tired of them. I am going to try painting this week. Maybe I will get really energetic and make an obstacle course. But I would love to hear suggestions on how to balance multiple kids.

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    My oldest three kids were stair steps, they are 21, 19 and 18 now but when they were 8, 6 and 5, we homeschooled outdoors a lot as well. Do you have play equipment in your yard? What about a sandbox? Ride-on toys or bikes? Jump ropes? Balls? Hula hoops? Bubbles? Sensory boxes? Messy art or science kits? Is there an area where she can pretend to play house or garden? A mud kitchen was a wonderful place when my big kids were that age. We lived on a tropical island when they were all that young (Okinawa, Japan) so sprinklers and wading pools and other types of water play were an option pretty much year round. Washing the house and/or windows and their ride on toys with the hose and some old rags was always a favorite activity of my kids when they were that young. Of course, it didn't get very clean but it would entertain them for hours sometimes.

    Another suggestion would be to let her boredom teach her to entertain herself quietly. Five years old is definitely not too young to learn to entertain her self while you work with her cousin. Letting her learn to entertain herself instead of always providing her with something to do will help both you and her in the long haul. You can suggest options to her if she is intruding on her cousin's lesson but let her find something to do. Don't find it for her.

    Finally, if she is the type that enjoys school work, buy her a few workbooks or print out worksheets that she can work on at her leisure. I wouldn't assign her extra school work, but if she enjoys school lessons and would willingly do more, give her some worksheets that are review so that you don't have to actively teach her anything to be able to complete them on her own. My second oldest daughter, who is now 13, loves reading and school and was quite precocious from a young age. She actually asked for more workbooks for her 6th birthday lol. Some kids are like that and if your daughter likes that sort of thing, by all means get her some things to work on during her "independent work time". It may take a little training if she is used to having your attention whenever she wants it but it is worth it to have a child who can spend 20 - 30 minutes or so at this age doing something quietly and independently.

    As a last resort, I'm not above giving them an educational app to play or video to watch if I really need to get something done without interruption. There are a plethora of apps and videos available today for young kids that are meant to teach one thing or another.

    One last thing, and I promise this really is the last thing lol, I would make sure your niece gets to do some of these fun activities too. Your daughter should not be penalized for being a quick learner with extra work and your niece shouldn't be made to feel like she doesn't get to do fun stuff like her cousin does because she is a slower learner. Try to keep it balanced and lessons short because they are still just little in the grand scheme of things.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Arrived RTB's Avatar
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    Feb 2012


    My two are close in age, and I agree with what MHA said.

    My ds required more focused reading help, leaving my dd to be on her own while I worked with him. For her, unsupervised activity always ended badly (for example at 4 she somehow scaled our 6 ft wall and jumped into the neighbor's yard to play) - so I used a fair amount of educational apps (Starfall was my favorite), and some fun activity books that I would pick up at the local teacher store or Barnes and Nobel. I also was happy to let her watch most PBS kid shows. She also listened to audio books - sometimes that combined with a hands on activity worked well. So, was screen time ideal, no, but it is what worked at the time.
    DS 15, DD 13
    Year 9

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Struggling with 2 kids close in age