If you have multiple kiddos in tow that you are educating at home, then you’ll want to read my tips for homeschooling a large family. In 7 short years, my family of 3 grew to a family of 7. At the time of writing this, we have a 1-year-old, 3-year-old, 5-year-old, 7-year-old, and 13-year-old. We are going into our 8th year of homeschooling, which is why I found it totally appropriate to share how my husband and I have been doing it with our growing family.
5 Tips for Homeschooling a Large Family
First, let me help ease the most common worry when it comes to teaching multiples: homeschooling lots of kids does not have to be scary! In fact, it can be pretty adventurous! It all comes down to how you look at it.
You don’t have to have it all together.
When I started homeschooling my oldest more than 5 years ago, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was coming from having taught preschool for over a year and working as a Curriculum Specialist, tutor, and substitute teacher – all in the public school system. Needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes. And honestly, I still make a lot of mistakes. Not to mention, every time it seemed like I had this homeschool thing figured out, another baby would come along and throw off the whole system. Speaking of which…
Create a routine (instead of a schedule).
When I hear the word “schedule,” I think about waking up at 6:00 AM, having breakfast by 7:00 AM, and everyone ready to learn by 8:00 AM. But what happens when one kid doesn’t feel well, or we all sleep in, or we have to be somewhere by 8:30 AM? If you’re like me, these things will throw a wrench in my emotional database and try to mess up my entire day. But that’s just it… when you create a routine, the time and place won’t matter.
The kicker is that most of were programmed according to the public (or private) school schedules. We had to wake up at a certain time to catch the bus (or be taken to school) and be ready to start when the bell rang. And then what happened next? The bell would ring again indicating that is was time to go to the next class. Doing this over and over for up to 13 years embeds things into your subconscious.
So as homeschoolers, the first thing we think we need to do is create some type of schedule to keep everything and everyone in line. Word of advice – DON’T DO IT! Instead, start with a gentle routine that doesn’t include times. Here’s an example:
- Wake up, get ready for breakfast
- Move into together time (subjects/studies you do all together)
- Independent lessons (or a break, depending on the ages of your kids)
- Field trip, errands, or whatever you want/need to do
It’s really THAT simple! Not having times attached to these tasks takes the pressure off feeling like you have to “make the next bell.” The biggest difference between having a routine and schedule is flexibility – something that every homeschooling family needs!
Take it slow with curriculum.
Another common misconception with homeschooling is that you need to have all your curriculum ordered, purchased, printed, and ready to go. Nope! First, figure out your children’s learning styles. This will make ALL the difference in the type of curriculum and resources that you should, could, or would use. You don’t want to give a hands-on learner a textbook and tell them to read two chapters and answer the questions at the end. What typically happens is they react, retract, and regress because that lesson doesn’t fuel the way they learn.
Also, curriculum doesn’t determine how well you are homeschooling or how well your kids learn. They should be seen as tools, resources, and support to help you and your children reach their educational goals. When I saw it that way, it didn’t bother me use workbooks today, YouTube videos tomorrow, or even Netflix and the story time at the public library.
There are many things that can be used to teach your kids! I personally love getting digital products that were made by other homeschooling moms because they get it. They understand that most of us are homeschooling for the first time, teaching multiples, may have special needs involved, and the like! This is also why I create curriculum resources! At the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t purchase that $1000 curriculum from that popular company!
Set attainable learning goals.
This suggestion doesn’t have to be taken as serious for the younger kiddos, but having them at that age will help later in life. Make this a family affair and get everyone’s input. Is your 6-year-old learning how to read? Maybe set a goal of reading a small book by the the summer (or another season). Is your teenager starting to show interest in a particular career path? Set a goal of taking a certain amount of classes throughout the year.
There are tons of learning goals you can set for your kids, but the thing to keep in mind is their unique learning styles and level of development. Setting goals too high or that seem too difficult could have an adverse reaction. And don’t forget to celebrate when goals are reached… then, set some more!
Teach your kids how to learn independently.
One of the best skills a child could have is the ability to learn and learn independently. Don’t confuse this with trying to get children to teach themselves. That’s not what this means. Independent learning means you can teach your child a concept or topic and then give them their work to do, which they can do without your guidance. Of course, it’s okay if they ask questions or need help; but, for the most part, they’re able to complete something on their own.
It’s during these times when you’re able to work with other kids or tackle a household task. Although some children naturally struggle with this, it’s the approach you take that will lead them to become better at it. For example, try not to give your kids all the answers for the sake of getting something done and moving on. Instead, show them how to find the answer and then give them the opportunity to do so as well.
These skills will actually develop into major ones they’ll use in adulthood. The ability to be able to critically think, search out a matter, and give researched answers are all strong character suits.
Do What’s Best for Your Family
Every family who wants to homeschool should be able to regardless of the number of kids they have. Yes, sometimes it can be stressful and down right overwhelming, but those are the growth opportunity moments. It doesn’t mean that you’re horrible at it or need to put your kids back into the public/private school system.
Always do what’s best for your family even if that means taking an extended break, deschooling, joining a local (or virtual) homeschool group, and so on. And just a few more words of wisdom before I wrap it up:
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
- Make changes when necessary (even if it’s the middle of the homeschool year).
- Go where your children’s needs lead.
- Remember you’re the best influence your children can have.
- Embrace where your homeschooling journey takes you.
- Give yourself a high five, pat on the back, and hug because YOU ARE AWESOME!
Even if we don’t know each other, please know that I’m rooting for you. I’m just an email away (hop in my email community if you haven’t already) and you can connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube! And remember, you CAN be successful at homeschooling a large family!