Sibling preschool? Let me explain. We have a lot of layers in our family. The teen, the almost-teen, the newly double-digit-er, and…the preschooler. She’s often swept up in activities too challenging for her which leads to a lot of frustration…and we get it! It’s hard being the youngest with big age gaps. But we’ve been trying something new: Vera’s Sibling Preschool.
It’s been working like a charm.
Carol Barnier is one of my favorite homeschool speakers and her books give me so many ideas. This idea came from her book about distractable moms. We’ve fashioned the idea to fit our family and our interests.
If you have a wide array of ages in your house and you’re struggling to keep everyone involved all the time? This idea might just work like a charm for you too.
Here’s how we’re doing sibling preschool.
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Vera’s Sibling Preschool: How We Do It
If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that simplicity always wins around here. There’s way too many kids and tasks for me to get done in a single day to create complicated systems. We need simple. And Vera’s Sibling Preschool? Is so very simple!
- We have a list of activities. It’s hanging on our fridge. I’ve got the list separated into categories. Each of these activities requires very little set-up time and very few materials.
- The big kids do choose and do these activities all on their own. I’m not setting anything up or putting anything away–that’s part of the “preschool teachers” job.
- I’m not requiring or prompting anything–the big kids choose what they want to do with Vera and in their free time, or in-between subjects, they will grab an activity idea and Vera and do it!
- These activities usually only last 10-15 minutes–her attention span is not huge. But this is just enough for her to feel really special with a little one-on-one time with big brothers and sister!
- After the big kid does an activity, they’ll head back to the fridge where the activity list is, and beside it is a record keeping sheet. On this paper–there’s one for each kid–the big kid records what they’ve done with Vera.
- At the end of the month, I print out a new page and give the big kid $0.50 for each activity they did with Vera.
On Sibling Preschool and Paying Those Sibs…
I get it, I get it…seems a little weird to pay your children to play with their little sister. But hear me out. We’re not approaching this as “playtime with Vera.” We’re approaching this as Preschool with Vera! And I would definitely pay for preschool for Vera–somewhere around $250/month actually!
The big kids are having so much fun with Vera and they’re monetarily motivated as well, which keeps them going!
We’ve not normally been big on allowance in our house, but in the last several months, as our kids have grown older, we’ve decided to give them a small monthly allowance to cover the little things they ask for when we go to Target, etc. Now when “pay day” comes, they have their little piles of quarters in addition to their monthly allowance and that’s been VERY motivating for the kids!
SIDE NOTE: Being totally transparent, this Sibling Preschool idea is not all that alluring for my 16-year-old. He’s also got his own job and making big bucks, so fifty cents here and there are not as enticing. That’s totally fine–I get it! This idea is much more interesting to my 12.5- and 10-year-old. They’re ALL over it!
Activity List for Sibling Preschool
Sometimes our biggest struggle is figuring out WHAT to do with those sweet preschoolers. Don’t worry, I’ve got you more than covered. The following is a giant list of activities that your big kids can do with your little kids–each one has a really short list of supplies, they’re really easy to do, and most of all–they probably won’t need your help to do these activities!
A huge advantage of doing sibling preschool means less on your plate, not creating more work for you.
Use this list, download it (see button below), print and hang on the fridge for your big kids to choose something each day. Then use the record keeper page to have your kid record what they do. I’m having my kids keep these sheets for a whole month and I tally up the activities and pay them their “wages” at the end of the month.
Here’s the list:
Arts + Crafts
- Create cards and pictures to put in envelopes and sent to Grandma.
- Play with play dough.
- Cut out paper dolls.
- Color in a coloring book.
- Weave paper place mats.
- Make a coil clay pot.
- Cut stamps from kitchen sponges and make art with paints.
- Make a pinwheel.
- Make pictures with a washable ink pad and fingerprints and markers.
- Cut out big letters from construction paper, find materials that match that letter–macaroni noodles for M or buttons for B.
Fine + Gross Motor Skills
- Create an obstacle course.
- Walk on the balancing beam or put a piece of masking tape on the floor and “balance” on it.
- Toss a beanbag.
- String beads on a string.
- Teach your preschooler how to do jumping jacks.
- Shape your bodies into letters on the floor.
- Use lacing shapes.
- Play school.
- Play supermarket.
- Dress up in costumes and put on a play.
- Have a puppet show.
- Play restaurant.
- Practice tying shoes.
- Practice holding a pencil and tracing.
- Dust a room together.
- Sweep the kitchen.
- Put away clean clothes into drawers.
- Use natural cleaner to clean a few windows or mirrors.
- Practice washing dishes.
Read + Letters
- Read a story and find the setting from the book on a map.
- Do an activity that the characters in the book were doing–hide and seek after reading Ping, bake cookies after If you Give a Mouse a Cookie.
- Pause during the story and ask what your preschooler thinks will happen next.
- Help the child memorize parts of the story.
- Grab the library book pile and read a bunch of stories!
- Create a pack of flash cards with index cards–one set of Uppercase Letters, another of Lowercase Letters. Help the child create matches.
Counting + Numbers
- Play with blocks. Count as you stack them.
- Play a game that encourages counting. We love Hi-Ho Cherri-O for this!
- Practice measuring with measuring cups.
- Roll out numbers with clay.
- Put chocolate chips into small cups and have child count them.
- Have your preschooler match socks.
- Fill different sized containers with ice cubes. Have child guess how many they think will fill each container first.
- Give your preschooler a stack of pennies and five cups labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Have child put that many pennies in each cup.
- Play Memory.
- Play Old Maid.
- Have child choose a page she likes from a magazine, tear it out and glue to a piece of cardboard. When the glue dries, cut the cardboard into puzzle pieces and have the child put it back together again.
- Copy down your child’s knock-knock jokes and create a book of them!
- Sing songs with finger plays.
- Create instruments with kitchen tools.
- Learn some common folk songs and sing together.
- Use a simple cardboard box to create a beat box.
- Create a beat with hand-clapping.
- Teach your preschooler songs to learn things, like vowels.
- Stretch different sized rubber bands across an empty tissue box to create a guitar-like instrument.
- Blow bubbles.
- Draw with sidewalk chalk.
- Go on a nature walk around the yard.
- Fill up the bird feeders together.
- Collect flowers for a vase.
Homeschooling, and parenting in general, is all about the current season, the shifts that need to happen as the seasons change and new challenges arise. We shift, we figure things out as the tides change. This is just a new shift for us–and it’s working great! I hope you’ll download the list and try it too!
NICE WORDS ABOUT VERA’S SIBLING PRESCHOOL
Wanted to give you a quick update on sibling school.Texted this to my husband this a morning and thought you might like to hear it too.Leeland’s school assistants are doing well. I just put on their daily board that they needed to do two activities with him. Lillian (8) already asked to do an extra activity = Leeland (4) is happier and less needy. Win win!!Thanks for this new idea that is saving our homeschool day today! -MARISSA