One of the things that has been different about this school year is having both students who need to really work and concentrate and a preschooler! In previous years we have just done difficult work while the youngest ones were napping and there was rarely more than 15-20 minutes of that kind of work anyway. With both of the big children being out of preschool and into regular elementary school work there has been an increase in the kind of lessons in which they need to listen and pay close attention. Rather difficult when the Bull is trying to show everyone his latest drawing of a pile of snakes on his magna-doodle! He is much more active than the others were at this age and when you add in a noisy wiggly seven-month old things can get really distracting!
So what do we do?
I haven’t found any one solution yet. Some days Bull can really entertain himself for a long time and some days “Bull needs Mommy to ‘old ‘im”. I try to work with him in his preschool books first, then send him into the playroom to play for a bit (now that J is a bit older I sometimes put J on the floor in there to “play with” trucks or whatever too). Sometimes Bull sits at the table and practices cutting and gluing in an old notebook. Yesterday I gave him some round stickers to put in his notebook and showed him how to draw flowers around them.
The thing that has helped the most is to change the way we do school, I no longer expect that we will get all of one day’s assignments done in one sitting from 9am to 10:30am. Instead we spend 20-30 minutes “doing school” then an equal (or even slightly longer) amount of time doing jobs or playing (preferably outside). Then another segment of school, another segment of jobs or play and so on until lunch.
This method accomplishes several things: it keeps Bull from feeling ignored, it gives me a set time to go put on a load of laundry or something similar, the breaks generally fall when the bigger two are getting wiggly anyway, and it gives an incentive – “You need to do Math and Phonics before you can go back outside”. Working towards a goal is always better than working for working’s sake.
As for what Bull does in school: We are working through this set of Preschool books. Currently we are on Book C. We are also using the Preschool Workbook Published by Mead which I like for it’s simple drawings (it is all black and white) and multiple approaches to pre-reading and pre-math skills.
Generally we do 2 pages in Book C (“my green goolbook”) and two or three pages from the Mead workbook (“my yellow goolbook”) It takes ten-twenty minutes and he’s really ready to move on at that point to something else, preferably noisier and more active!