This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure statement for more information.
I homeschool a freshman in high school. I also homeschool a preschooler. People ask me all the time how we homeschool multiple ages.
Hahahahahaha! I have no idea.
We just do. And somehow, the one-room schoolhouse thing actually works. I’m just going to be honest and tell you that we had a total groove thang going on with my then 11, 8, and 5 year old. But I went and threw another baby into the mix and yes, it’s been a little challenging learning how to mesh all these people.
Now, we have a 15-, 11- (will be 12 this summer), 9-, and 4-year-old residing in the Hutchinson Academy of Learning and yes! It can be done!
I’m not going to say it’s easy, because it’s probably been the hardest part of homeschooling since my youngest was two or so. But I’ve also been at this homeschooling gig for long enough to know that each year is different and current circumstances don’t mean forever circumstances. And choosing to press forward rather than throw in the towel has it’s rewards.
Tips for Teaching Multiples
Here are a few things we do each week to get things done with a houseful of very different aged kids:
- First and foremost, we do absolutely everything that we can–together! This is just imperative in our house because when everyone is working together, that means I can sit in one spot and help/assist everyone at ONCE!
Here are the things we work on together:
- Morning Meeting
- Language Arts and Writing (for my middles)
- Read aloud
Here are the things the kids generally work on independently:
- Math lessons
- Independent reading
1. For the combined subjects, I’ll just go more in-depth with the older ones – assign more challenging reading and expect a higher level of work. For the independent work, they’ll all work at the same time and I’ll just hop from kid to kid explaining their lessons and making sure they’ve got it.
- My kids each have assignment notebooks that they’re expected to follow if I’m busy with someone else. I typically will fill these out at the beginning of the week. So if I’m busy they can move on to their next thing without getting off track. We were having a big problem with kids sort of wandering off during school when I was working with someone else. If they know to follow the day’s plan, it’s been much less of an issue.
- Tame the Toddler. Haha! Just kidding, it’s impossible … it was just a clever alliteration. But since a toddler can be one of the biggest (albeit, cutest) interruptions of a homeschool day, it is a good thing to have a plan for her.
For us, I have a rotation of fun things for her to do for the first bit of our school day. We normally do school for about 2-3 hours. So I aim to give her things to entertain her for the first ½ of that time. We rotate sensory sand, play clay with cookie cutters, markers, used workbooks that she thinks are the real deal, and any other fun art supply I can get my hands on. (More ideas HERE in this post about homeschooling with toddlers.)
And here’s where the real truth telling happens: for the second ½ of our homeschool morning, I let Sesame Street teach my little girl.
Yes, TV. I know we’ve beaten to death the argument that screens are bad, nature is good. But sometimes you just gotta do what’s best for your season of life. And for me with a teenager all the way down to a very busy little lady child, PBS Kids is where it’s at.
TV time is limited and it’s never on all day or anything crazy, but I do turn it on almost every school day morning for my 4-year-old.
Does that make you feel freer? Yer welcome.
Managing Multiple Ages is Not Forever
I know when you’re in the thick of it, the daily struggles seem like they’ll never change.
But they will.
And even though I’m talking with one child about driver’s ed and sex (save me, Jesus) and wiping pee off the floor for the other one, I know my life won’t always look like this.
My natural-self would lament and stew about this juggle. But my wiser-non-natural-self told me to take a chill pill, light a candle and watch as all four of my kids sit at the table with their copywork books and copy passages from their current reads.
I can breathe deep when I see my 9th grader quiz my 3rd grader on her math facts and swap places while she quizzes him on his co-op science test.
The mixing of ages actually is a beautiful thing when I get over fretting about it.
As long as each of my kids’ physical and emotional needs are being met most of the time, I’ll call that day a success. I can’t be everything for everyone all of the time. But as long as I’m remaining conscientious of everyone and their needs, I figure everyone will get their slice of mama when they need it.
Hang in there, mama. Enjoy the season you’re in.
I know how great it feels to see how other homeschool mamas manage their days. For this very reason I created a weekly feature on my Instagram feed called Day in the Life of a Homeschool Mama. You can find us @learningwell on IG.
Each week we feature a different mama as she walks us through her day. Sometimes all we need is a little tip or an idea to implement in our own routine and that little thing can ripple effect to change things in a big way.
I hope you join us!
NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN. TELL US: Do You Have Multiple Ages you are Teaching? What’s your best tip?
Alicia is the creator and founder of Learning Well Community, a network for homeschool parents to be inspired and encouraged by one another. You can find out how other homeschool parents do it on their weekly Day in the Life takeovers on Instagram (@learningwell). Alicia has been homeschooling her four kids for 10 years.
BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE HOMESCHOOL SISTERS
PSST…DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN SUPPORT THE HOMESCHOOL SISTERS PODCAST WITHOUT SPENDING ANY EXTRA?
Many listeners have asked how they can support The Homeschool Sisters Podcast. The answer is a simple one. Do you shop online? Click our link first. You won’t pay any extra, but a small percentage goes toward The Homeschool Sisters Podcast to help offset our expenses. Every little bit counts, and we are so grateful for your support!