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And after reading a few posts or linking up with us, be sure to read the guest post below! Lily talks about homeschooling in a multi-child household.
I recently asked my friends and family what questions or concerns they have about homeschooling, and the number one question I got was how to homeschool when you have multiple children. I think that I have a bit of an advantage here because even though I have four children, I only have one running around distracting the others. I may not be an expert, but I will share what I know and how I manage this in my own household.
When we took our children out of school, my oldest was two grades ahead of her brothers despite only having a one-year age gap. I decided at the time to allow her to work on a different grade level independently in grammar and math, while sharing all other subjects on a single grade level with her brothers. We quickly outgrew this method because the boys finished all of the requirements for their grade within weeks, so we moved them on to the next grade. Since my daughter was a little unsure in math, I began doing a split curriculum, where two days a week we would do math in grade 2, and the other two days we would do math in grade 3 for all three students. This worked wonders because it allowed my daughter to refresh her skills, and it allowed my boys to more quickly pursue new concepts in the same subjects.
At the start of this school year, I followed the same concept; we used all subjects on the same grade level, and when I felt they had mastered a certain concept, I threw in a higher grade level version of the same thing. If I saw a lot of mistakes or they seemed to be having a hard time, I took a step back and tried something different. It is completely normal for the children to be all on the same grade level or to each be on a different grade level. My goal is to find the right level for each child. I want each child to be challenged but not frustrated.
Because I have three very different learners, I try to take an eclectic approach to schooling them; a boxed curriculum would never work for us. My daughter is a writer. She writes everything down as she reads it, and she uses her best handwriting. This takes time and patience (on my part, I mean!). My oldest boy is a kinesthetic learner with an extra dose of ADHD. Even when he is hanging upside down from his chair, he is able to listen and accurately answer questions. My third child, who is extremely brilliant but very difficult to reach, has ADD and many signs of Aspergers. He can recite every single Pokemon on the planet but can’t remember a definition 2 seconds after he hears it. These very different needs mean that each child’s needs must be met in a different way.
In order to meet each child’s needs, I try to compromise. The first part of the day is mostly geared toward my writer and listener. Then at mid-day we take a break, run errands, and the children sometimes play outside and use up some energy. After lunch, I try to gear things toward my wiggly worm. He learns well by listening, so we do some reading aloud. He also enjoys working on the computer since it keeps his attention, so we use the computer for several of our afternoon classes. I also stop often to ask him questions and make sure he understands the lesson. This also requires each child to do at least some work in his or her less dominant learning style, which I think is important. Over dinner, I have the children tell their father what they learned that day in order to help reinforce what they learned that day. I also use this time to subtly remind them of anything they may have missed or misunderstood.
With children who are relatively close in age, some subjects like science and social studies or even foreign languages can easily be combined. Simply use more or less difficult questioning according to each child’s grade level. This saves time and patience, which are precious commodities in a homeschool environment! Teaching the children to work independently is also very important–especially when one child needs more help and guidance than the others. It may take some time to figure out a game plan and figure out just what works for your family, but you can do it!
Lili is finishing up her second year of homeschooling her three children, while simultaneously chasing a toddler around. She’s a self-proclaimed Sims addict, loves cats a little too much, and bookmarks way too many recipes. She’s had her fiction writing and poetry published in several compilations and publications. Currently, she is rebuilding with her family after a faith move from one side of the country to the other. It was this move that allowed them to fulfill their dream of homeschooling. You can read about that journey and more on her blog “Ducks in a Row” @ http://infamousmorris.weebly.com/