In August, I started taking care of my cousin’s daughters three days a week, and it’s been so fun! Four kids under 8 years old can be a handful – but we are working out a routine and it’s been really nice to have them around.
I’m not sure if I’ve talked about it or not, but I homeschool my kids – Braden in kindergarten and Shaleigh in 2nd grade – through a parent partnership program here in Stanwood. They are technically public school kids – they follow the curriculum provided by the school district (and chosen by me) and most of their learning is done at home, with one day a week at school with other kids in the same situation. Shaleigh’s day is Tuesday and Braden’s is Monday.
Hattie is four and goes to preschool the days that she’s not here, and Nora is two years old, and they are here Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. There’s a lot of car time on Mondays and Tuesdays with school drop offs and pick ups and then afternoon soccer practices on both days, too. We try to do some reading and some school work those days, and maybe an outing or grocery store trip while I have three kids.
Usually, we do some kind of school in the mornings. I have workbooks for all of them. Binders with worksheets and activities for each age. Nora has mostly coloring pages, and then a few blank pages because she likes to draw all over the page – and then I have other activities for her, too, like magnets for the fridge (animals, letters, things like that), lacing activities, puzzles, games, things like that. Hattie has some pages from workbooks I’ve had for my kids since Shaleigh was in preschool and a few other things I’ve picked up in the dollar section at Target and other places. She loves doing her work and it’s really cute to see the things she comes up with. Shaleigh and Braden have curriculum that’s provided by the school district and I’ve taken workbook pages from that and put it in their notebooks.
The idea is that I’m providing them with a week’s worth of work and they can choose what they want to do when, as long as it gets done in the week. Braden loves to do work and gets a lot of it done in the beginning of the week so I have to refill his book… Shaleigh is the opposite – anything that sounds like work or school, she fights me on, so there’s always a bunch undone at the end of the week and I have to decide how hard I want to push her to get stuff done. Luckily, we’re ahead in most stuff already (she doesn’t know that) so I’m not too worried… and I think I’m going to switch her language arts to something more writing based (and fewer worksheets) which will help with the math feeling overwhelming, I hope.
There are a few apps that the kids use. ABC Mouse is one they think is fun (not work), and then there are a couple provided by the school district that are more work (IXL for Math is one that they kind of dread, but I think it helps – I usually pick things that are easy for them so it’s practicing things they know and feel successful) and BrainPop Jr. has videos about science and social studies stuff.
Braden and Nora – the two redheads – doing a little ABC Mouse on the iPad
So, after we do school, they play for a little bit and then we have lunch – lots of the classic kid lunch foods: hot dogs, chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Hattie and Nora LOVE pickles and olives, so I usually try to have those on hand.
One of the things I love best about having Hattie and Nora is that they take naps! Like read a book, put them in their beds, “have a nice rest” and close the door, two hour kind of naps! It feels like a miracle. I did not have kids like that. My kids stopped napping at 18 months – which is why we had the 5:30 pm bedtime. Also lovely. The very best part about this is that MY kids – the napless wonders, the kids who could not be apart from me even for a few minutes because it’s sooo boooooring – are now having quiet time every day for at least an hour even when the girls aren’t here. It’s amazing how that can completely recharge me for the second half (or last third) of the day. They don’t sleep but they play quietly in their rooms or listen to music or read books. Sometimes, about half way through, I hear one of them go to the other’s room and then they play together quietly, which is amazing. I’d always heard about naps or quiet times in other people’s houses, and now I am getting to experience this little slice of heaven! 🙂
Usually, after naps, we’ll go outside and play, take a nature walk, do farm chores, look at leaves, visit the alpacas, and grab a snack from the garden or apple trees. I love this time of day the best. I love seeing how they play together – and that there is enough space and there are enough activities that the fighting doesn’t usually happen. They can be loud and run and be crazy and it doesn’t matter, unless we’re near the alpacas, then we need to be calm.
Running the dogs and visiting the alpacas – the alpacas love kids… and I feel like they especially love groups of kids. It’s so fun to watch them rush to the fence to check out the kids. Phoebe will almost always “tap” (kiss?!) their little hands through the fence. Zoe and Midori like to keep their distance but are very curious.
Farm Chores – water for the alpacas… also, I should probably get me a raincoat if I’m gonna fit in this group of cuties!
So much giggling with these girls! The alpacas loved the show, too!
The swings are a big hit! I’m so thankful there are four of them… kids and swings! There are still fights about the favorite swing, but at least we’re not having to take turns
And the trampoline! Nora gets to go on by herself because the big kids are crazy, but they all still play with her from the outside.
Nora is the star of the show
We planted grass in this little spot for a gathering spot with our neighbors and for a possible farm stand next year. Less than two weeks and it’s almost all the way filled in! We love to go check on it every day to see how it’s doing – alpaca poop helped it along! 🙂
The alpacas are always happy to see the kids
Braden has finally figured out how to get up onto this log and he loves to show off the skill. Hattie wanted to join him and it was so sweet to see him get down and show her how to do it, and then talk her through it.
I’m not sure what we’re going to do when the winds really start up and it rains for days at a time and we can’t spend as much time outside… I have some ideas, of course, but I am sure going to miss these days in a month or so!
I have a million more Homestead Childcare pictures and stories to share, so watch for more posts about this! I can’t resist the cuteness!