3 Simple Tips For Homeschooling Multiple ChildrenLisa Trombley
One of the most common things people wonder about when they find out we have seven children and we homeschool is how I can possibly homeschool so many children at all different grade levels. When people think of school they picture classrooms with children separated by age with each hour of the day scheduled for a different academic subject. It’s hard for them to imagine how I can recreate that at home. Thankfully a homeschool doesn’t need to recreate that traditional school model!
Here are my three keys to successfully homeschooling multiple children:
1. Schedule Blocks of Time
Rather than use a schedule that puts each subject into a specific time slot, we schedule using blocks of time. This way of organizing our time help us keep our routine without making things complicated or forcing the children and me to be clock watchers all day long. It also gives flexibility when we are running ahead or behind in a certain area. Our daytime schedule looks something like this:
7:30-9:00 a.m. wake up, breakfast, morning chores
9:00-11:00 a.m. morning school work
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. lunch and recess
12:30-2:00 p.m. afternoon school work
2:00-4:00 p.m. free time
2. Combine When Possible
The second thing that makes homeschooling multiple children successful is to do as many subjects as you can together. Many homeschool companies recognize that homeschool parents are teaching more than one student and create materials that can be used with a range of ages. Or they may have add-on versions or supplements to make a program a better fit for younger or older kids. (For example, Bright Ideas Press has an All American History Junior product so the program can be used with children in grades 3-4 even though the original program is for grades 5 and up.) Many curriculum plans also include tips for multi-level teaching and activities for different age levels.
Subjects that can easily be combined are
- foreign language
Depending on the abilities of your children, other subjects can be combined as well. For example I have a third grader and a fourth grader who are very close in ability, so they also do spelling, reading, and grammar together. We complete all of our group subjects during our morning school work time slot and leave the individual work for our afternoon time slot.
3. Encourage Independent Learning
My last sanity saver for homeschooling different ages is to encourage independent learning. If your students can work fairly independently in the subject areas that cannot be taught together it makes life a lot easier on the teacher. There are several curriculum choices that are written to the student and do not need to be explained by a teacher. You can also use DVD courses or even take classes online.
Independent learning is easier when the children are older, but there are ways young children can learn independently as well. They can be given a hands-on activity or a worksheet to complete on their own as they get used to the idea of doing school work without mom right beside them.
I have found it is not any more difficult to homeschool 6 children than it was to homeschool 2 or 3. By scheduling using blocks of time, teaching as many subjects as a group that I can, and encouraging the children to work on their own with the help of DVDs or student-led materials, we manage to get it all done and have some fun along the way.