Little brothers … so many thoughts are conjured up with the utterance of that phrase. My daughter could probably entertain you for days with the trials and tribulations she’s endured at the hands of her three – yes three – little brothers. (When I gave birth to her third and final little brother she sighed and said “I guess I’m never getting a sister, am I?”) All in all Teresa has been pretty long suffering to the many antics of the boys, but still there are days when I’m sure she’s daydreaming about another girl in the house, or perhaps being an only on the really challenging days.
While some days are better than others, there have certainly been moments when having that many little ones underfoot makes for a challenging homeschooling experience. The boys are 2, 4, 7 – and in 2nd grade, and then there’s Teresa, in 5th grade at 11 years old. Constant interruptions and background noise (screaming, fighting, playing, etc) make for a very interesting school day.
At first, when we were starting out and I just had one little brother for her to contend with it seemed almost impossible. Her brother was into everything and I felt as though I were pulled in too many different directions. Frustration abounded in those days, and I even entertained thoughts of giving up homeschooling altogether. I can’t quite say how we moved past those early days, but over time and with the addition of two more brothers we seem to have fallen into a rhythm.
I’ve learned that the most important factor of homeschooling with other little ones around is not to be too committed to a schedule. I have things I want to accomplish but I look at the entire week rather than a day by day itinerary. This way I don’t let one day of interruptions discourage me from continuing. Some days we can literally tear through a pile of work, and on other days we might only get to one subject. And I’ll put my hand up and admit that yes, I have curtailed school in the first 15 minutes when I sense that we are just getting nowhere that day.
On the flip side of this, there are so many benefits to having the constant activity swirling around while we do school. I’d like to think that we’re teaching the kids to multitask no matter what is going on around them.
A good friend of mine reminded me of something just recently. What I had been calling “interruptions” were actually yet another learning experience for my daughter. For the hundreds of times she has stopped work to help out the 2 year old, get a lost toy for the 4 year old, or explain something to the 7 year old she has learned things they can’t teach in books: patience, kindness, respect, love. When my 2 year old woke up crying the other night and reached his arms out to his big sister, finding comfort in her arms, I realized we’ve been on the right track all along.