Our family is coming up on our tenth year of formal homeschooling. It has been an amazing journey thus far. We’ve covered much ground and learned so much together.
This year I approach our school, trembling in my boots, as I teach five grades from kindergarten to ninth grade. We’ve examined all our options and decided that home education is still the best choice for our family. The adventure continues!
So far in this series on Getting Started in Homeschooling, we’ve talked about a number of different aspects of teaching your children at home:
- Determination - the gumption to tackle such a lofty goal
- A Philosophy of Education - the ideas that will fuel your
- Teaching Resources - books and curriculum that help you achieve the educational goals you’ve set for your family
- An Awareness of Your State’s Laws - an understanding of the rules of the waters
- An Academic Calendar - a timetable for learning
- Tools for Schooling - some basics to have at your disposal
- Creating a Daily Routine or Schedule – how to structure the days
What about teaching more than one child?
Today we look at the idea of teaching more than one child. It’s not impossible to teach more than one grade level or subject. In fact, in my public school teaching days I was often assigned three to five different preps in a school day — with thirty kids each. So, this is doable. Really.
Things do get a little tricky when you’re teaching more than one child because there are many personalities and needs to fold into your school day. With care, you can work it all in and still be sane at the end of the day.
Mastering the daily schedule of teaching many children is a challenge, but not an impossible one. It does require planning, flexibility, and a sense of humor.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Study the same subjects, but at different levels.
This year all my children will be studying Ancient History, using Tapestry of Grace. TOG is designed to help the family with many students
keep mom from going crazy make good use of their time by covering the same time period of history in a way that is accessible to all age levels. It’s quite brilliant, actually.
For example, my kindergartener will get Ancient Egyptian crafts and picture books while my 9th grader will be reading things like Ancient Egypt. Likewise, my K-6 crowd will be using a Botany curriculum that covers a range of ages and abilities. In fact, finding common curriculum that can be adapted for a range of ages is not as difficult as one might think.
While each kid will be doing his own thing, we’ll also collectively be talking about similar subject matter. I will not need to be in five continents and time zones at one time, but our family can experience the same over all topics together, making for great dinnertime conversation that everyone can participate in as well as lend itself to family field trips that support each child’s studies.
Organization is vital when you mother many. You have to get your act together — just to survive. It’s no different in our homeschool than in our home. I have to be organized to stay afloat.
Some of the ways that I do this is through the planning sheets and binders I use. I’ve prepared assignment sheets to help us track everyone’s work. I put together a master homeschool binder for each school year that includes a calendar, course outlines, attendance records, assessment scores, and lesson plans.
Each kid’s books and assignment sheets are color-coded so that it’s easy to tell them apart at a glance. Each child has his own binder as well as a basket in which to hold his books for school. We put together paperwork in a systematic way that even a first grader or kindergartener knows whose is whose.
The Organizing Life as MOM Homeschool Pack contains similar planning pages to those described here as well as a host of other pages designed to help you keep your homeschool paperwork in order.
Manage your time well.
While none of my children will spend eight hours a day on school, there will be days when I might. From planning to teaching to running the carpool and then grading papers, I will be a busy beaver. So, I have to manage my time well.
Believe me when I say I’m enjoying summer break immensely. Yes, the school year is busy, but if I budget my time well and not allow time wasters to suck my energy and attention, I know that I can do the things that I need to do in a day.
In her book, Organized Simplicity, Tsh Oxenreider, addresses time wasters. She suggests making three lists: the want to’s, the need to’s, and the what you really do’s. If there is something that is on list #3 that is not on the first two lists, then this is a potential time waster.
The illustration was not lost on me. Facebook came to mind immediately. Good thing it’s vacation! As home educators, we can’t afford to squander the precious minutes and hours at our disposal. We have to make every moment count.
Rest, relax, and enjoy your peeps.
That’s not to say that we don’t put up our feet from time to time or cozy up with a good book. Or cuddle with our kids to watch a movie. Or play a game of Boggle together. Rather, I look at it as the idea, “work hard, play hard.” Make sure that you’re taking care of business AND enjoying the people around you, namely spouse and children.
One of the biggest benefits of this homeschooling gig has been to know and relate to my kids on a deeper level than I might if they were gone from me all day. It’s easy to get lost in the shoulds of life.
About this series - If you’re interested in getting started in homeschooling, this is a series recounting our experiences in teaching our children at home, the things that I’ve learned, and some resources I’ve discovered along the way. But this way isn’t the only way. Your mileage may vary. Coming up next time – Our Curriculum for the Year.