One of the questions The Activity Moms get asked most often is “How do you juggle activities with children of different ages?”.
Balancing Activities with Multiple Kids
In my home, we have M that is 5, G that is almost 2, and baby G that is only 2 months old. When it was JUST M, we never had a problem balancing activities but when G was ready to enter the learning scene, some adjustments definitely had to be made! Here are some ways to keep everyone learning in a safe, fun, and cooperative environment!
I was very accustomed to doing “tray-type” activities, but that wasn’t the greatest fit for G’s learning style. So instead, I do learning stations. They are NOT hard to set up, as it can be as simple as setting up a box of instruments in one corner, taped down butcher paper and crayons in the kitchen, and dress up clothes in another. Center-based play builds cooperation and encourages imagination.
M and G absolutely LOVE to do dress up centers together, as well as pretend play. Try setting up a doctor’s office, market, or school and let your tots learn and play at the same time!
Sensory Tubs Geared Toward Multiple Ages
One of M’s favorite learning activities are sensory tubs, but with G being younger, I wasn’t ready for him to be flinging rice throughout the house! So, think of fillers that safe for the younger set but still engaging for the older set. We like using chunks of ice, cotton balls, and Easter basket “grass.”
Sometimes, you have to think of ways to differentiate the learning within the SAME activity. Reading books is BIG in our house, but G doesn’t always have the attention span to listen. He wants to be included but often becomes a distraction. So to differentiate, Daddy will read, Maddie will listen, and G will stay busy by tearing old magazines or sifting through his board books.
- When you are working with the older child, give the younger one a few of the materials you are using so they feel included (markers, paper, playing cards, paint brush, etc.).
- Let your older child be the leader and “teach” his younger sibling how to do an activity that is perfect for his age.
- Sit on the floor and have one child on each side of you. You can can be right there to point, direct, and teach each child and you sitting in the middle will hopefully be a barrier from distraction. I’ve often done this with board games. I play against each of them (at the same time) in a game that is perfect for their age and level.
Thinking of ways that will include the younger kiddo will allow you to still work with the older one, all while they BOTH learn!
Written by Jill
Mommy of Many Hats
Tuesday 14th of May 2013
Thanks so much for sharing your ideas. I'll admit, I'm dreading the day when our little one joins our learning time, but am already seeing issues even during table work time etc. This was a great way to jump start my brain, thinking of some ideas that will work for her, as every little one is different. Lol.