A homeschooling mother of 9, Anne Wegener, once told me she always begins her homeschooling day having the older kids doing an activity that requires no attention from her. Even a kindergartner or first grader can trace handwriting, color or do something independent. She then devotes a whole hour of her time to the preschool set, first thing. She calls this "filling up their love tanks." Once the little ones have started the day with some undivided love and fun from their mom, they are much less whiny when mommy is giving her attention to an older kid. If their time were to come later in the morning, to them it may feel like its never going to come. Preschoolers don't have a good concept of time. They feel left out to see mom helping the rest of the family with school work and sometimes they're not sure what to do with themselves. When they are given attention first, they will often spend the rest of the morning content and secure of their place of importance in the family and in their mother's heart.
I have this worked into my schedule for the year. Some of the time I will do fun and messy projects with Abby and Naomi. Other days, I will let them pick and activity: dolls, reading, doll house, block tower, etc.