Balancing Homeschooling with Multiple Ages

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Balancing multiple ages in your homeschool from a homeschool mom of 8.

Homeschooling is a wonderful lifestyle, but it requires creativity when you are dealing with multiple grade levels. Unless you are blessed with twins or triplets, you most likely have kids in varying age ranges. This gap could be no more than four years or as many as twenty years! I have a gap of nineteen years and have been homeschooling multiple ages for sixteen years. I will let you in on a few of my secrets, but I want to preface saying I’m still learning as I go.

Simplicity

My first and most important tip is to keep it simple. Trying to do everything will not only burn you out and learning will no longer be fun for anyone. One of the gifts of homeschooling is being able to develop a love of learning in our children. A child who knows how to learn, can learn anything he puts his mind to. He will enjoy the process and this will help him succeed in life. Don’t damage this love of learning by putting unrealistic expectations on yourself and your children.

Every family is different, so your homeschool won’t look like any one elses. Be sure to have a clear picture of your homeschool goals so that you can choose curriculum that fits your goals. The curriculum is there to serve you, not you serve the curriculum. You can read more on creating your homeschool vision here.

Be Intentional

Homeschooling takes commitment. God has called you to this and will equip you with what you need. Trust Him. But at the same time, be willing to put in the work and dedication it takes to homeschool.

Once you have your vision set, make a plan for the day to day and yearly schedule. Know that you need margin in your day, in your week, in your month and in your year. Even public school teachers have movie days and field trips. And it is so important to have time to explore the world around you!

I give my older kids their independent work to start with and I sit down with the youngest first. Fill those little tanks up first and then move on to the oldest. I just have to check my high schooler’s work and hold them accountable, where I have to sit longer with the 4th grader.

I will be sharing with you lesson planning ideas in the near future, but keep these principles in mind for now.

Unit Studies

If your children are close in age (two years apart or less), unit studies can be very beneficial and lots of fun. Having a larger gap presents a few more challenges to this method, but it can most definitely be done!

Multiple ages can study history and science together easily, then separate for English and Math. This allows everyone to start together in the morning with mom, then breakaway to work on their individual subjects. Plus mom only has to lesson plan one subject for history and science. The older ones are required to do further study and can help teach the youngers as well.

Unit studies can be a year round plan or used to dig deeper to focus in on one particular area of study for shorter periods of time, like over the summer or Christmas break.

Recommended Unit Studies

Classical Education

Another simple approach to education is the classical method. I’ll be honest and tell you that this method terrified me when I started homeschooling many years ago. But after needing a simple schedule to get through a hectic time in our lives, I found myself doing classical education haphazardly. And I realized it wasn’t so scary and was actually very freeing. For more information about this method of homeschooling read more here.

Simply focus on reading, writing and math, while allowing your children freedom to explore the world around them. Read lots of books out loud, even to your high school-ers! We use Classical Conversations to build community and it keeps everyone on the same page with history and science. It blends well with Charlotte Mason as we enjoy participating in nature study also. It would be worth your time to look up Charlotte Mason if the idea of art, poetry, music and nature sound enticing.

I don’t believe you can ever be just one method of homeschooler, but you will find that you lean more towards one style than another. And to get to that point, requires some trial and error, getting to know your kiddos learning styles and your teaching style, considering your budget and knowing your time limitations. Please comment or email me with questions! This is a wide topic and I will be diving into each section deeper soon!

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