Help! I Homeschool and I Have Lots of KidsJul 01, 2016
How to Homeschool Multiple Ages
"How in the world do you homeschool multiple ages?"
That's pretty much the question I get asked anytime people find out I homeschool our five kids. "That's a lot of grade levels to teach all at once," they comment. Well, yes, it is!
It's a juggling act! I'm not going to sugarcoat it. Homeschooling a large family is not a piece of cake. There are days that we get lots done. Then, there are days when we get nowhere near as much done as I had planned. There are also days when life throws you a curveball, like illness, unexpected guests, or a field trip opportunity.
So, how do we get it done and do it with lots of kids? Patience, planning, and a lot of grace! Ha! That may not be what you were looking for, but I've found that it's true.
- I've found that patience is key -- and I'll be real -- sometimes it's in short supply by all of us. It's especially difficult to homeschool when you have small kids thrown into the mix. Everybody has their own needs.
- You will never have all the patience you will need for each day without relying on God. I really try to spend time in the Word before my morning gets started. This is often hard since my little ones seem to know the exact moment I wake up. I do share a lot of my tips about how I find time to read the Bible each day in my book, Sanity Savers for Moms. I'm still offering it for FREE here.
- I try to plan out our entire year each summer. If you missed my post on how I do it, you might find it helpful. Besides the school work itself, I try to plan out when the best times are to get things done. I tend to read aloud when my kids are working on something like penmanship or math. I have a new homeschool organization course, called the "Ultimate Homeschool Organization Course," all about how to organize your whole year and plan for smoother days. You can learn more about that HERE.
- We try to do as many subjects as possible together. Math and English tend to be two subjects that get taught sequentially, so are not always taught together. However, it is possible to do a math problem together over some apple slices. You can talk fractions with your older kids and how to count with your younger kids.
- The best description I ever heard of how to understand how to teach the same subject to various ages came from Heidi St. John years ago. She described it as a school bus. Let's pretend we are studying anatomy. Everyone gets on the "bus" together and we start our journey. We read a bit about the body, then we let the youngest child "off the bus" first to do a coloring page with a basic body on it. Next, your first or second grader will get off and have the same coloring page, but he'll do a bit more and label the main parts of the body. We keep going with a bit more teaching, then let our next student off with an assignment to do a detailed labeling worksheet and a few sentences about what we've learned. Now, if you have older kids still on the bus, you might have them do a report or research paper on a particular body system.
- Does that help? Various ages all have various levels of work. However, we are all studying the same thing. This works really well with science and history.
- God gives us grace when we mess up. We need to share His grace with our kids, and ourselves. There is no perfect homeschool, but we serve a perfect God. Ask Him to help you through your day and to give you wisdom on how He wants your year and day to run. You'll have so much more peace.
- Don't forget to give yourself some grace in other areas of your life, too -- mainly the house! Homeschooling is not synonymous with housework even though they are both done in the same place. You may enjoy this post if you want to read more about that.
Do you want a glimpse into what one of our homeschool days looks like? I did a little video for you.
Books & Curriculum Featured in this Video
Prayers that Changed History by Tricia Goyer *This book is truly a treasure! I feel like it was my "score" of the year. I had the privilege of speaking with Tricia at the same homeschool conference this summer and bought several of her books. I knew this book of prayers looked like a great book to read with my kids -- I had NO idea just how much I would love it for our US history this year. I really love it! Be sure to check out Tricia's blog, too. She is so encouraging and a brilliant writer -- and has become a wonderful friend.
Apologia: We enjoy Apologia. We've done several of their books.
IEW: Phonetic Zoo
Costco workbooks: I did a video all about them. You can see it HERE.
Math U See: I've been using Math U See since we first started. It's worked really well for my kids.
Beads: Ha! Yes, I'm highlighting the mess you saw on the ground that my sweet little girl made! Those beads aren't a great project for her yet, by my four-year-old really likes them. Here are the boards to design cute things with the beads.
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