Here is the question I get most often: What do you do with the little ones while you school? We, of course, have a special time with our preschoolers to start the day. They have their own curriculum. Often they are playing close by (or running through ) while we work. But each school morning it is nice to have a short, uninterrupted time of teaching.
When it’s time for older children and mom to work on math, preschoolers start morning room time – with mom and dad. Huh? How can mom be in two places at one time? How can dad be at work and at home?
Yes, parents can be in two places at one time!
Preschoolers listen to a CD mom and dad have recorded especially for them. Preschoolers are playing in a safe environment. Everybody is learning.
We have used this tool since our friend, Jeana, shared it with us when our first child was a baby.
Room time is detailed in Creative Family Times – Practical Activities for Building Character in Your Preschooler.
1. Build a script for a CD your child listens to while playing in his room (or other area of the house you choose). You pick the songs and skills you’d like for your child to learn. Twelve years ago it was a bit more labor intensive to make a room time tape. I am thankful these days we can pull from a digital library to design a CD. Be creative and design a CD with your child’s needs and favorites in mind.
The book includes a script, which is what we used. We took turns with Mama and Daddy reading the script. Daddy did most of the singing. The neat thing is that you are talking to your child, calling your child’s name. For example:
“Suzy, what does the Bible say about who God loves?” “First John 4:19 says that God loves me.”
2. Start building a room time habit. Be sure your preschooler is comfortable. A small snack and drink of water starts some separate time off well. Potty break, if applicable. Save certain toys for room time. Place a new puzzle on the bed. Put a book on the window sill so your preschooler can enjoy the view. Be sure outlets are covered and furniture is secure (basic toddler safety check).
Set a goal of about 10 minutes to begin with. Work up from there based on age. Babies can play in the crib or playpen.
Room time teaches your child an important skill – to play on his or her own for up to 40 minutes at a time. Your child is free to explore and build small and large motor skills on his own.
While playing your child will hear your voice as you teach your address, sing fun songs, repeat the ABCs, introduce a Bible verse, anything you chose!
With our first child, I would use room time to do laundry, return a phone call or get a quick shower. The baby gate would be safely across the door to her room. Eventually, though she learned to obey and to stay in her room without the gate.
Even babies can have play pen time or crib time for 15 to 20 minutes. I think all children should have a small bit of quiet time by themselves. I know I always need some quiet time.
3. Teach your child that room time continues until the CD finishes. After the CD finishes, it is time to tidy up and put toys away. Because in 40 minutes a toddler can make a room look like below and a three-year-old can fix up a room this way…
Now that we homeschool an age range of children, room time is even more valuable. The CD is teaching preschoolers while Mama is teaching older children.
My opinion is that many underestimate a young child’s ability to quickly learn basic polite manner skills, ABCs and Bible verses even at age two or younger. If a child can sing the theme song to Barney he certainly can begin tucking the Word of God into his heart and learn his own address. A time investment up front with eternal benefits.
Room time is really a gift for the whole family.
updated from the 2008 archives
-Tricia homeschools five children from preschool to middle school. She’s forsaken life in the drive thru lane for the road home. She’s saving bucks and her sanity with the frugal recipes and sock it away strategies of her Southern roots. You can find her facing that daily dose of chaos at Hodgepodge. Tricia is a.k.a. Hodgepodgemom.