Homeschooling Multiple Ages
You poured your first cup of coffee three hours ago and took one sip. You tried getting up before everyone else to organize and lay books out for the day, but the baby is teething and needs your undivided attention. It’s now mid-morning, your first cup of coffee has been warmed up three times, your oldest should be done with handwriting but instead, is playing games with the toddler, your daughter is frustrated with her reading lesson, and you wonder if you’ve actually accomplished anything on the homeschool agenda for the day.
Why does it seem like no matter the number of children other homeschool moms continues to have, their routines aren’t disrupted at all? Don’t believe the lie that we all have it together. I don’t. Other homeschool moms don’t. I’ve been there and truth is, I’m still there. I’m the mom that lies awake at night wondering if we’ll log the amount of hours needed to meet requirements, the mom that gets up 18 times during a math lesson to chase the crawling baby, the mom that tiredly glances around the house at nine o’clock at night wondering when the tornado hit. We have four children that range in age from six years down to eleven months. It’s beautiful and we create memories every day, also it’s exhausting and full of grace.
I’ve been to homeschool summits, browsed countless blogs, and tried more “best practices” than I can keep up with. After doing this for months and even years, I realized that our routine consisted of too many tasks and my expectation of daily accomplishments were far too high for our family. I needed to weed out some of the classes and extra curriculars I was encouraging our children to participate in. I also formed a routine within our homeschool day that was manageable and thought of ways we could enjoy the flexibility of homeschool all while creating memories together.
Here are 8 tips I’d like to share with you to help you homeschool multiple ages.
1. Get outdoors together.
We spent a lot of time outdoors together before deciding to homeschool. We met friends at the park, swam in our pool, and went on daily nature walks. I wasn’t aware how important this was to us though when we first started homeschooling. We started our homeschool journey buried in flashcards and books at the table. What was I thinking? The childlike wonder that is sparked while a child is outdoors is such a beautiful thing to watch as a mother. All of our children learn considerably more from identifying a tree by its leaves, studying the characteristics of a berry, or observing an ant than many of the activities I place in front of them at a table. When they’re all outdoors together, they brainstorm and share in the beauty of creation.
2. Start your day with physical activity.
This is a huge one for us! When children wake up, they hit the ground running. Am I right? I’m constantly amazed at the energy levels children possess, especially in the wee hours of the morning. Getting their wiggles out before you sit down for school will help them to be still and get more of their work done.
3. Teach your children to work independently.
Children that are able to work independently will allow you a chance to work with your other children. They’re able to get their work done and you’re able to help another child with something they may be struggling with or spend time caring for your baby.
Start small. Some ways I’ve been able to teach our children to be independent is by giving them a small task that they can complete in a short amount of time. Once they’re able to do that, give them something that may take slightly longer, and build up from there. Encourage them along the way and let them know how proud you are that they were able to complete that task on their own. This will free up so much of your time and give them a true sense of pride.
4. Utilize group activities as much as possible.
It can be overwhelming to try segmenting your day into too many subjects for each child. We combine as many subjects as we possibly can into group time together. Not only does this cut down on the amount of time blocks you have throughout the day, it also allows them to learn from each other and dive deeper into subjects that interest them.
We combine a lot of subjects with our morning time routine. By using our Hymn-A-Long curriculum, our oldest children are able to work on math and language arts while our littles play with their hymn mats. It's such a special time learning hymns and Scripture together as a family.
5. Give your oldest children the responsibility of teach your youngest children.
Our oldest son taught our toddler his alphabet! Children are proud of what they’ve learned. They want to share and teach others what they’ve been taught. They also enjoy taking on new responsibilities and being able to contribute to something that’s important to the family. Why not leverage this to save time and energy for yourself?
This doesn’t mean they’ll be able to teach their younger siblings everything, but there are absolutely areas where they may be able to assist in simplifying your day.
6. Have some down time throughout your day.
Most of our children cut out their naps right at three years of age. Although they may not need a nap, they benefit from a rest. This may look different from one home to the next but grabbing a blanket and a good book works perfectly in our home. Children need to be cuddled and told they’re special. This is our time to do just that. After our down time together, our children normally regain their energy and are ready to move on with our routine.
7. Create learning activities for your younger children
When I give our oldest children their independent work, I also pull out learning activities for our youngest children. This may consist of puzzles, memory games, coloring pages, alphabet cards, sensory bins, or any other activity they may be able to do on their own. This is a way of making them feel included in our homeschool day.
8. Give yourself grace and be flexible.
We all make plans and fall short of them. Give yourself grace. Know that you’re cut out for the calling of being a homeschool parent and providing the best education to your children. If you create a schedule that doesn’t work for your family, try a new one. One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that we can create a daily routine tailored to the interests and flow of our family life.
Trust me…you’re equipped to homeschool multiple children and the time you’ll be able to spend with them will be such a blessing to you and your family. Now don’t waste another moment, go create memories and focus on the time you get to spend together.
Willfully Serving His Children