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Tips on How to Keep a 3 Year Old Busy WHILE Home Schooling!

This question was recently asked on the AHEA Facebook Page:

Anyone have ideas for learning boxes for an extremely busy 3.5 year old? I have tried some learning box ideas but he's done playing in 10 minutes and isn't interested again.

Answers:

*I think 3.5 year olds are extremely busy and don't have a great concentration span. My best suggestion is to make a LOT of boxes for him, and to keep using new ones. It's best not to repeat them in under 10 days. When the boxes aren't used often, the kids enjoy them longer. (SORRY) I have a Pinterest Board w/ ideas for 3 - 5 year olds (and really believe the time spent making these IS worthwhile and makes Home Schooling easier.) I planned to have 8 to 10 different activities for each morning of Home Schooling. It does take a while to accumulate these activities - but is achievable and worthwhile.

Home School ideas for Boys - many of the ideas are for young boys. Check that out, too.

Sometimes it is thinking outside the box with what we already have - add an empty gift wrap tube or makeshift ramp for little cars to go down... Fill a shallow tub with water (on a couple of bath towels) and have a *car wash* or a *Duplo wash*. Yes, it is more work. Yes, it can make a mess BUT your little ones will love the time and attention. There are TONS of easy learning activities on both the links above. Many are quick and easy to make. I had /have a bookshelf for the best of those activities. OH, and the longer you use them, the more he will learn to *do* them for a set period of time. Put not so fun activities in between fun activities and say this is the next activity - try it for 5 minutes. I am always watching for fun activities to buy, too (on the garage sale Facebook page for our area). Just bought magnetic Fun Faces.

The thing is you must find his interests. My first son was very smart, very busy and nothing calmed him down. Absolutely nothing. I bought him Jumpstart Fractions cause it was on sale. This was intended for use way in the future .....perhaps 11 years old (he was only 4 at the time). He saw it and begged me to put in in the computer. I did. He used this game for two years. I never, ever had a problem with him sitting still again. Listen to your son, you probably know what his interests are. Take those interests and be creative yourself. My second son -it was a car mat and dinky cars, the legos. Btw, those busy kids are usually quite gifted:)

Thanks for the help! I made a large pile of learning "bags" and put them into one big plastic tub. He's been digging through them everyday and picking out something to do. I even found him coloring on his own for quite a long period of time. Before this week, he wasn't interested in colouring for extended periods of time.

*I have a nephew who is 3 and in a Montessori preschool and daycare. He, too, is a busy boy. His favorite activity is "shelf work" checking out some Montessori sites might give you some more ideas. I think having a rebounder is a good idea for all kids to burn off some energy. I got one at a garage sale with my 12 year old in mind.

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What Things Would You Change if You Could Go Back and Start Home Schooling Over?

This was another question asked on the AHEA Facebook Page.
*I would have relaxed more (esp. with younger kids) and just enjoyed learning. It took me so long to realise hiking, baking, and even chores (!!) were learning experiences, too - we didn't have to be doing workbooks at the table to be learning....
*Well since I would have started earlier...lol. I would change the way we learned. I was so worried that I needed it to be just so. I also didn't realize that much of everyday life is where she learned the most.
*I wish I had spent more time on character building.... This blog says a lot of what I am thinking tonight: Beyond the Textbooks
*I would have to agree with both of you; I would definitely have been more relaxed with my firstborn (and first to be homeschooled). I've been way more relaxed with my second (of our two) child and its gone much, much better.
*I actually would have been more rigorous from the start, with more structure.
*I would have quit focusing on others expectations of what learning should look like and trusted my instinct sooner. Instead of worrying about content, I would have focused more on making the process of learning, fun, experiential, and interactive from the beginning. It's so much easier to homeschool when the child is excited about it.
*I wish I had been more patient and relaxed when we first started hs-ing (I was one stressed out mama), but there are also things I wish we had focused a little more on these past few years.
*I'm extremely thankful we started Home Schooling when our oldest started K.
*My biggest regret is not focusing more on character building in the beginning. Also, I wish that I had paid more attention to Charlotte Mason, although I do realize I wasn't ready to adopt her philosophy 5 years ago. Home Schoolng is definitely a journey that is different for everybody
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A few good educational resources!

Well, it is hard to believe I haven't blogged for a while, but life has been extremely busy. I have kept busy home schooling, managed to visit our oldest daughter (and husband AND new baby!) in Germany a few weeks ago, and our 3rd daughter just had an emergency appendectomy that was pretty awful - hospital visits and recovery - as well, as keeping an eye on the new AHEA Facebook page. (The Facebook Page is hopping with links and comments, though!)

Life is kind of slowing down and I am back. smile

I was looking for a baby present and a preschooler / toddler birthday present yesterday and came across two great resources.

The first was a Leapfrog Frig Farm Animal Magnet Set. (I actually saw this on a Facebook Garage Sale Page for our area - that is another tip for the Facebookers! People not on Facebook, keep checking Kijiji and real life garage sales! BUT for those of us on Facebook, the Garage Sale pages for our areas are a great resource. I am loving ours and have found many great house items on great sales, as well as some educational items, too. I bought a used set for $5.) The new set for a baby gift was aroud $23 at the Bargain Shop.

The second resource that I saw and LOVE for little home schoolers was the Leapfrog Letter Factory Phonics. Again, it was at the Bargain Shop - around $27. I shop mostly in rural Alberta, so I had never seen this before other than online. Love it. I think it would be a great educational extra for a little home schooler to help learn the letters of the alphabet with - great as a workboxing extra OR to keep a little one busy while the big kids are homeschooling.

The last item is a KEVA Contraptions set. I saw this at one of the Home School Supply Stores and after a little consideration, I picked up for our household. Our kids are older - our youngest is 14, but I thought it would be a great building set to have in the house. I was right - I've had a few home school events in our house OR babysat for friends and had some kids LOVE building with it.

If you have a resource to share, why not check out the Facebook Page or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.? Happy Home Schooling AND Happy Summer Vacation!

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Another Easy Home School Idea - Using Youtube in Your Home School

This is an idea that I have used in our home school often through the years. *I was just thinking I do a lot of online extras BUT the internet is a tool in our home and home school. I always recommend monitoring it closely. Our computers and laptops are in public areas and I continue limiting and checking how much our daughters use them AND what they are doing on them. That is a parental responsibility in this day and age. *I do trust our children often, but I don't trust their friends usually - parents have different rules, so it is important to keep an eye on even our trusted children. I was reminded of that recently.

BUT using Youtube in our home school has been a valuable tool. I am always looking for tips and links to illustrate what we are learning about.... I often check out Youtube for a video to make a lesson come to life. It works for checking out: animal habitats for science, current news stories, art or paper play techniques, math extras - Doodling in Math Class, anyone? (We love her series on Sprials, Fibonacci and Being a Plant), historical videos (Ancients Behaving Badly - Genghis Khan- there are many other videos, too) and much more.

Here is a link to Using Youtube in Your Home School for even more ideas.

I think the key is to make home schooling work in your home. If you are comfortable with Youtube, it is just one more tool to use!

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One of Our Easiest Home School Extras!

I can't even remember if I have shared about this before, but I was just thinking how well it has gone this year and how much we enjoy it. First of all, I have to say that I have realised through the years that NOT everything educational needs curriculum or *workbooks* to be a great activity or extra. I actually have found discussions to be a great learning activity in our home.

We have done Afternoon Discussions with another Homeschool Family for years. Some families read books or base their discussions off questions, but we have simply watched a TV season episode (while I wrote down questions relating to what we watched) and then I host a discussion with the youth present. It really is such a simple idea, but so effective.

We watched the entire series of Dr. Quinn together a few years ago and had some amazing discussions. There really is nothing like seeing outright racism (Robert Lee and Grace) to get everyone thinking and talking. We also talked about pioneer days, women being doctors when only men were accepted as doctors, purity and waiting for marriage (Dr Quinn and Sully), and so much more.

The next year, we headed into McGyver (to give the boys a break from relationship *talks*! smile). It had a science and creativity flavor. 

For the past 2 years or so, we have been working through Numb3rs. It has a mathematic bent and has been very good for the math phobic youth present. (smile/ sigh)

Last week, we took a departure from watching an episode from a TV season and watched "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler". I had a friend recommend it and I ordered it in through Interlibrary Loan. WOW. What a great movie about real life heroes. Amazing story.

BUT I once again realised how powerful this discussion idea was. . . It really isn't hard writing down questions to discuss - often a movie or episode will have a theme. I try to be sensitive to those who are more shy, but I believe in everyone sharing their thoughts, too. It really was a great discussion and a learning hook for the children present who hadn't studied WW2 yet. (3 families took part and preteens were present.)

*Oh, and when I host a discussion, I always note the date, what we watched and who was present - along with the questions as a record of what we did - as well as any great comments or quotes.

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