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It’s time to start school. You’re ready, but how about your kids? Are they running around the house? Or, do you sit down with one, while the others are not doing their school work. You need to be homeschooling multiple ages … but how do you do it without going crazy?
If you had only one child and one lesson, everything would be awesome. But that’s not reality. Here are 3 tips I used in my own homeschool.
Homeschooling Multiple Ages Tip #1:
One of the best things we did in homeschooling multiple ages was to start our day with reading aloud.
Why did I “start our day” with read aloud?
During our first year of homeschooling, I would read aloud after lunch. Can you guess what happened?
As I read aloud, I would get sleepy and ask one of my daughters to finish reading. That is not the example I wanted to set. I didn’t want my kids to get the impression that reading puts you to sleep.
The very next year, I changed our homeschool daily schedule so we started with reading a story together out loud. When you homeschool multiple ages, reading together allows you to homeschool everyone at the same time. Even your toddlers can participate.
For what it’s worth, my kids didn’t sit on the couch like perfect angels during read aloud time. Sometimes they folded laundry. Sometimes they played with Legos. Sometimes they drew in the journal.
Homeschooling Multiple Ages Tip #2:
To help with homeschooling multiple ages all together, I expanded our read aloud time to include other activities. That’s where Family Time came into play. During Family Time we had 30 minutes of various activities and 30 minutes to read aloud.
What kind of activities did we include in Family Time?
It varied, depending on what my goals were each year. Some of our activities included:
- Poetry Reading – to make poetry fun
- Art Appreciation – with simple art books
- Music Appreciation – with DCs or downloads
- Bible study – once a week discussion of our kids’ Bible study
- Hymns – sing hymns since our church was not singing them at the time
- History – discuss our historical time period
Homeschooling multiple ages was much easier with Family Time. I covered what was most important to me, those areas not usually covered in a curriculum. You can read more about our Family Time.
Homeschooling Multiple Ages Tip #3:
Whenever possible, group your kids together in their studies. I realize this might not be possible at times, but be as creative as you can to reduce the craziness in your homeschool. Over the years, I grouped my kids in several areas.
Unit studies allow your entire family to learn together. Let’s use the topic of the Middle Ages. Your older students might read Dante’s Divine Comedy, while your younger children might read Door in the Wall.
You might read one of Howard Pyle’s books, Otto of the Silver Hand or The Adventures of Robin Hood, aloud together as a family. In other words, each child reads a book on their reading level and you read together a book of mom’s choice.
From there, add activities your family can do together. A few examples include:
- Writing: Each student writes one paragraph about life in the Middle Ages
- Writing: Create a Middle Ages newspaper
- Science: Study the printing press and how it works
- Science: Make soap, candles or stained glass
- Science: Make a trebuchet
- Music: Listen to Classical Kids
- Copywork: Copy sections of the book the child is reading
- Fun: Play games from the Middle Ages
For more helps on using unit studies, see our Unit Study Tool Kit .
History & Literature
Throughout all our homeschooling years, I grouped the kids in History and Literature. When I first started with Ashley and Gentry, they were in two different grade levels. Even so, they both studied American History and read the same American History books. That year, they wrote, did projects, and took field trips based on American History. It simplified homeschooling children in two different grade levels.
When Gentry and Hunter were in high school, they did the same history lessons, literature lessons and philosophy lessons. They read the same books independently and we read books aloud based on their history.
In our elementary years, we always studied Science together. We chose different topics. I found books at the library with activities. We had fun together learning about that topic. No workbooks. No tests. Just fun learning.
There’s no need to get a curriculum for Science in the younger years. Just choose a topic and study it together for a couple of weeks.
Lapbooking & Notebooking
Finally, if you’re kids are grouped together, you might be thinking, “What kind of assignments should they do?”
It’s really quite simple when you use lapbooking or notebooking. Both approaches can be used with any topic. Each child keeps their own lapbook or notebook to record what they learn. It’s a simple way to homeschool multiple ages.
When we made lapbooks, we used a manila folder and many graphic organizers inside to record what the kids were learning. The Ultimate Lapbook Handbook can help you get started.
With notebooking, your kids write about whatever they learned that day. Productive Homeschooling has instructions and free notebooking pages, if you’d like to try out notebooking.
Homeschooling multiple ages without going crazy is possible. Choose one idea from this list and implement it for a few months. Don’t try to do everything new at one time. After you are successful with one idea, add another.
To help you get organized, I have a 3-part video course, called How to Simplify Your Homeschool. Although I could charge for this course, I’m giving it to you completely free. Just enter your name & email below.
p.s. What tips do you have for homeschooling multiple ages? You can leave a comment by clicking here.