We were living in the Greater Toronto Area when we had four boys under the age of five. Yeah, that was fun! We only had one car at the time, so during the day while my husband was at work, I would walk the several blocks to the grocery store with a double stroller and four kids in tow. Oh, if you could have seen the looks I got. And the people who were bold enough to comment:
“Are they all yours?”
“You must be busy.”
While having several children is a blessing indeed, it can also make you feel like you’re losing your mind at times! Add homeschooling into the family dynamics, and it can get quite messy.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you do homeschool multiples and feel like you’re just trying to survive. Or maybe you’re afraid to homeschool because you don’t know how you could possibly do it with several kids. I’m here to tell you that it’s not as hard as it seems. You just need a workable strategy.
The problem is we imagine that homeschool has to look like school at home. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can homeschool multiple ages without going crazy. I’m 10 years into this homeschool journey with 5 kids in the family now, and I want to show you how you can do it too.
If I would have made that shopping trip without a clear plan, like a list of what to purchase, or if I would have neglected to prep the kids with proper expectations, then it would have been a disaster. And some trips were!
Likewise, you need some strategies in place to make homeschooling multiple ages easier.
Here’s how to make it work.
Step 1: Planning
Keep it simple
You do not need detailed lesson plans for each day of the year and for each kid. Throw that teacher planning book away and keep it simple! Here’s how to do that.
First, combine as many subjects as you can. You can easily combine multiple ages as you study science, history, languages, literature, art, music, and unit studies on just about any subject.
Most of the time, kids in grades K-8 can learn together. Yes, you expect more out of your middle schoolers. But being able to combine instruction and topics with most of your kids just keeps it simple.
The opposite of this is having, for example, a separate history curriculum for each child. Who can keep track of that? Not me.
Next, use open & go curriculum. Don’t use curriculum that requires an hour to read the teacher’s manual each day. Choose curriculum that you can open to the next page and continue on easily from the day before. Curriculum that’s written to the student is even better.
But what good is a plan if you don’t know how to make it work in the nitty gritty of daily life?
Step 2: Implementation
Does everyone know what to do next? This is the biggest question you need to answer regarding routines in your homeschool.
No, you don’t have to resort to bells and school schedules. But you need a flow. What are the expectations when the kids wake up? When they’re ready for the day, what’s the first thing they should do? Do they know the answer?
You can start by helping the youngest with their work first. But do the other kids know how to be productive in their own work and chores while you’re one-on-one with their siblings?
I’m not structured like some (10:00 math with child #1, 10:30 math with child #2) because my days are rarely cookie cutter. I’m guessing yours aren’t either. Life happens. So a flexible plan with clear expectations works great.
Tools for making this happen are workboxes for the younger crowd and an online organization resource like Trello for upper elementary and into high school.
Growing independent learners
Mom’s role changes as the kids grow. Homeschooling is very mom-intensive when they are young. But by the time they are in middle school, your kids should be much more independent in their studies. Mom is not so much a teacher anymore, but more of an occasional tutor, a mentor, a manager, and a cheerleader.
Knowing that kids will grow in their independence gives you a little light at the end of the tunnel when homeschooling multiples. When your oldest is in the elementary grades and they have several siblings in the preschool to baby stage, you might feel like you are juggling a three ring circus act. But it will get better, I promise!
Here’s where the third step comes in.
Step 3: Grace
Give yourself lots of grace as you navigate homeschooling multiple ages. It won’t look the same as other families. It’s your family’s unique journey. Embrace it, even with all its imperfections. That’s where growth happens.
- Don’t compare yourself to other homeschool families
- Your kids will grow and gain independence
- The baby won’t stay little forever
- Daily consistency leads to great gains
- Relationships over curriculum
- Tomorrow is a fresh start
- You’re HOMEschooling for a reason – don’t forget your why
You CAN homeschool multiple ages without losing your mind.
It’s easier than you think. But it takes a bit of strategic planning, then clear and consistent implementation, and a whole lotta grace. Grace for your kids. And grace for you, homeschool momma. You’ve got this!
As a former classroom teacher, now homeschool mom of five, Abby loves to equip & encourage other homeschool families. Parents are uniquely gifted to teach their kids! Join her at 4onemore.com to learn how to homeschool with moxie –> it’s about embracing your journey & finding your groove. Follow along on Pinterest here.
Are you wondering if you have what it takes to homeschool? Grab Abby’s free course Homeschooling 101: Basics for Parents Before You Start