Let’s face it, homeschooling a house full of kids is hard. Everyone wants attention at the same time, yet there’s only one of you to go around. So just how do you homeschool multiple kids?
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Tips for Homeschooling Multiple Children
In many ways homeschooling multiple kids is rather like running an old fashioned one room school house. You’re juggling multiple skill levels while trying to teach everyone at the same time.
The trick is to combine subjects as much as possible. This does not mean that all children are doing the same activities, although it can.
I’ll give an example. Right now my children are studying Napoleon Bonaparte in history. My 11th grader is reading some lengthy historical texts about him and outlining an essay. My 7th grader is reading through some easier history books and answering questions. My K and 1st grader listened to me read out of the Usborne History Encyclopedia before drawing a picture about what we studied.
I’m not going crazy trying to teach 4 different topics, but each child is doing age appropriate work.
2. Independent Materials
Independent materials are a lifesaver. They allow even small children to work through their schoolwork without you. For instance my 1st grader is able to start her penmanship under light supervision from me while I work with her little brother. Except for ensuring she’s writing each
letter correctly, she doesn’t need my help.
The trick to using independent materials is to choose wisely. Sometimes kids can work through the materials and not understand a single concept they were to learn. In this case you’re better off with teacher dependent materials that get the job done.
Remember as children grow, they can do more independently. A 1st grader needs you for almost everything. A 12th grader simply needs you to check in from time to time to ensure they’re on-track for graduation.
3. Study Subjects Together
One trick I’ve tried over the years has been to have everyone studying the same subject at the same time. Come 9am the family sits down to study math. I’ll start my 1st grader with a drill sheet while I ensure the older children understand today’s lesson. Eventually I swing back around to teach my youngest children today’s lesson.
It worked especially well when I had a toddler, K, 2nd, and 3rd grader in the house. The idea was to sit everyone down at the table with independent work. I wandered around the table helping and teaching children in turn. The toddler was locked into his high chair with some fun toys, cheerios, or edible paints to keep him occupied.
Studying subjects works super well in combination with independent work. Assign one child independent work while you work with another child. Keep going back and forth until the school work is finished.
4. Rotate Through the Children
My favorite method by far is to rotate through the children. Each child has 30 minutes to play with a preschooler, 30 minutes of independent work, and 30 minutes studying with me.
The preschoolers love the special time with their older sibling and head outside to play or upstairs to a bedroom to play together. Another child is working through independent work, while I’m sitting down actively teaching the fourth child.
During this time I teach the math lesson, phonics, spelling. I also correct writing, and touch base on independent school work. It gives me daily one-on-one time with each child.
5. Morning Time
Morning time is a catch-phrase for a group study time for the family. It’s a time to listen to good music while painting. You can recite poetry, enjoy a read aloud, or hold a family discussion.
It’s not a time for hard core studying but rather a time to touch base on all those subjects that tend to get dropped on a busy homeschool day.
Looping subjects works well for morning time. This means you may start with poetry and memorization chants everyday, but on Monday you’ll cover geography. Tuesdays are for nature
study. Wednesday’s topic is music appreciation. Thursdays cover art while Fridays are a catch-up day.
Of course the subjects vary depending upon your family’s specific needs.
With a bit of planning and thought, you can successfully homeschool multiple kids using these five tips.