As a mom of four kids – with a huge age difference, it has been interesting teaching everything from preschool to high school classes at the same time.
On my one side I am teaching my kindergartner the alphabet, and on the other, my high school student and I tackle Geometry, while my baby pulls on my leg from under the table.
Luckily I can award my middle-schooler some home economics credit for taking care of the baby while my attention is busy elsewhere. Talk about real life, hands-on child care preparation!
Maximize Your Time
When schooling multiple children, look for ways to make the best use of your time. Curriculum that is easy to implement and ideal for a home setting helps make schooling at home, easier.
I am a fan of unit studies. Not because I think it is the best or only way for my children to learn, but because it makes the best use of my limited time.
Here are five tips that I use to maximize my time and successfully educate my multi-aged family, while trying to keep my home in order and my housework done!
1. Teach Your Children Together
Unit studies are a great way of teaching multi-aged kids at the same time - even with different learning styles. They are especially convenient when your children are close in age.
Lessons and projects can be easily adapted to your children's unique learning styles. Expect more from older children and less from younger ones.
Although I love unit studies, we discontinued them with the birth of our third child. Our days were haphazard and we seldom enjoyed home school organization.
With a huge gap in the grade level and ability of my children, the unit study method became too difficult and time consuming for our family, so we switched curriculum and teaching methods altogether.
2. Use Self-teaching Curriculum with Older Children
What is self-teaching curriculum?
Curriculum that is written directly to the child. Alpha Omega's Lifepacs are good examples of self teaching curriculum.
I do not have to spend all my time teaching. I oversee and mark work, and give help when needed.
3. Swap Work
While you mark your child's work, have them do a job for you. Your children can do many odd jobs around the house.
Fetch or organize laundry, clean the bathroom, play with the baby, change a dirty diaper (always on the top of my list!) or any other project that needs completing.
Depending on your curriculum and/or the age of your children they can also mark their own or each other's work.
By having your children either mark their own or each other's work when you can't, they can move on to their next lesson or project without waiting for you to physically check their work.
I have done this successfully over the past few years. My children used to wait for me to mark their previous day's work - and wait, and wait, and wait. Waiting = wasting time.
When I see them waiting for me to check their work and I am in the middle of something - a diaper change, apple juice spill, or working with a younger child, I just tell them to "swap" their workbooks, and in a few minutes they are onto another lesson.
4. Involve Young Ones in Household Chores
Use your preschoolers "awake time" to complete projects and house work that they can participate in.
Do "school" while completing household chores. You will enjoy getting some housework accomplished and bring some organization to your home at the same time.
Laundry can be done easily with preschoolers.
They love to help sort dirty clothes, put the clothes in the washer or dryer, push buttons, add the soap, put clothes into baskets and sort and match socks, etc.
Or, they love to ride in the baskets! :)
Although, my culinary skills can't compete with Giada De Laurentiis or Rachael Ray, nothing compares to the fun interaction, learning and relationship building that happens while cooking in the kitchen with my preschooler! AND we get meals prepared at the same time, albeit with a little more mess.
5. Include Younger Children in Lessons
To increase your home school organization, find projects or hands-on activities that everyone can do together. Your younger children will love to participate in your older student’s activities.
Buddy-up your older children with the younger ones. The many questions young children ask will definitely reinforce what your older children know and working together helps everyone to develop patience.
As I write, my five year old is helping my fourteen year old make French bread for her Renaissance unit study.
While they work, they talk about France, yeast and all the ingredients that need to be added to their dough.
For the most part, my teen is patient, even when flour gets all over everything and little fingers go where they shouldn’t.
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How do you bring organization to your home school day when teaching multiple children? Do you have a great story or an encouraging word to pass along?
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