Homeschooling Children With a Large Age Gap

We have officially been homeschooling for four months now, and it has been a journey! It’s been mostly good moments, but we have had our share of moments of struggle. Everyone has a day where they just can’t shake a bad mood, but what happens when it’s because of your screaming infant or toddler?

One of my biggest struggles has been finding the balance between properly schooling Taniya while also showing adequate attention to Jayla. If they were closer in age, I’m 100% sure lessons and activities would be easier to teach them together. However, there is a 6-year age gap between the two, so teaching on certain days is a struggle depending on Jayla’s mood.

Prior to her first birthday, our days were a little easier to manage. I would breastfeed her, and then she would nap. She would wake up and spend time in her swing, the activity table, or on my back in the baby carrier. Crawling took place occasionally, but Jayla usually wanted to spend more time being held. Once she discovered how walking allowed her to touch and grab objects, things changed BIG TIME. She became much more vocal for attention, screaming in order to be free and mobile, and simply wanted to be a part of the action. Breastfeeding no longer soothes every cry, and a baby carrier doesn’t always work when you now have a toddler who’s on the move and building her confidence.

Although Jayla still spends time napping, breastfeeding or in the activity seat, I now put the gate in place and let her roam around. Play time is essential. She works with her blocks, dolls, play kitchen items and most of all her big sister. The difference in age has its struggles, but it works in my favor majority of the time. Taniya is a life saver. I spend a lot of time telling her that her sister is okay and to remain focused on our lesson.  The moment we take a break, she jumps out of her seat to play with and teach her sister.

I’ve learned to sit back a little more and allow for them to bond with one another. I watch Taniya practice self-control when she’s mad that Jayla continues to knock her dolls over. I watch Jayla get frustrated when Taniya stops her from getting into something she’s not supposed to. I watch them fight and have a pulling match, and I also watch them run around playing, laughing and hugging each other. When Taniya gets flustered, I simply instruct her on how to teach Jayla. I remind her that over time, Jayla will understand how she’s to play with her. I remember I used to worry about whether their age difference would cause them to have a weak relationship, but I believe homeschooling will actually make them closer. They are able to spend ample time together and experience new things together. The new co-op we’ve joined allows for them both to have the opportunity to play with children their age and give them a little time a part. I know Taniya loves her sister dearly, but social activities with kids her own age is a must! Co-op is only twice a month, but I’ve really connected with the women so play dates are easy to make in between those days.

Honestly, our school days could go much quicker, but I spend a lot of time going back and forth between the two. Explaining a lesson to Taniya, while stopping Jayla from pulling all of the books from the bookshelf. Or reviewing a math problem while Jayla literally screams to the top of her lungs in the background.

I’m still new to homeschooling, but I’m giving myself a pat on the back for being as successful with it as I am. If I’m being honest, I thought I would have given up by now. I didn’t and don’t plan to. I occasionally find myself swaying back and forth between being nervous about homeschooling both Jayla and Taniya as Jayla continues to grow and want to be involved, while also shrugging it off because I know it will all come together. I plan on searching for more resources that allow for Taniya to be more independent in her studies and will also make a schedule/activity curriculum for Jayla. I’ll have two separate spreadsheets for the girls that will provide subjects/activities and resources to use for each.

I believe that if I merge art, music, sign language and reading/writing, it will make learning together more attainable.

Wish me luck!

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Love, Mommy…

April 21, 2020, my husband and I experienced the loss of who we knew was our first born son, Jamir Titan Gurley. As I share my thoughts and feelings, he will be known as TJ and/or Titan.
My hope and prayer for this space is for it to be therapeutic not only for myself, but other women who've experienced pregnancy and/or baby loss. My goal is to build a genuine community where women who were unfortunately thrusted into this life truly find comfort and know they aren't alone. I'm no expert, and I won't pretend to be.

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