Monday, September 13, 2010

Homeschooling Multiple Ages in a Large Family

A popular question I get asked often has to do with HOW I homeschool various ages with so many children!, here we go! Here is a sample of how our homeschool operates. Remember, each homeschool is different, and trying to implement OUR schedule for YOUR family will most likely NOT work. Tweak it over'll get the hang of it! For information on the curricula we use, look under "Homeschool Tools".

Below is our USUAL daily homeschooling schedule. The first thing to understand is that we are VERY flexible, but this is generally what we do and times are approximate. We have chosen to school year-round so that the kids don't go through the "summer absent mindedness" that other kids go through. There's also no need for review (you can usually skip through the review sections at the beginning of each year of seatwork if you school year round since review is not needed). Kids who school year-round also usually get ahead in their school work and can usually graduate early because of this. Moms also have less chance of the infamous "homeschool mom burn out" because of the MANY breaks during the year. We take off when babies are born, kids adopted, etc. Around Christmas we take nearly a month off, a few weeks off around Thanksgiving (although I count all the cooking and baking as home economics, math, science, etc.), etc. So, we really enjoy what a year round schedule offers. It really allows for year-round flexibility.

We wake at 7 am. The children do their chores and get dressed for the day. At 7:30 we eat breakfast.

Seatwork begins at 8:00/8:30. While the kids do their seatwork, I am readily available to help or instruct, while I am overseeing them at the kitchen table in a "round robin" fashion. However, they don't need help as often once they can read the directions and know how to do the problems, so I use this time to work with the younger ones or to catch up on e-mail/internet if Ellie (2 1/2) and Judah (1 1/2) are coloring or playing contentedly. I am very encouraging of independent learning, and letting them be independent while you're still within reach is a great way to begin!

Another thing I have really loved seeing is when the older children learn to TEACH the younger ones! This is a valuable skill that most adults have never learned. For instance, in our home, the oldest two teach pre-school (under my watchful eye) to the younger ones. This consists of saying the pledge, counting to 100, saying the months of the year and days of the week, learning their address and phone number, phonics sounds, singing songs, saying Bible memory verses, etc. It only lasts about 15 minutes...just long enough for both age groups to learn what's needed (the teaching and the receiving instruction). This has proven to be extremely beneficial to both the older and younger children. The younger children learn to have and show a unique form of respect to their older siblings, and the older ones learn that valuable skill of passing on knowledge to a younger child in an exciting, age-appropriate manner!

As for housework, I usually have laundry started right after I am ready for the day and stay on top of it while teaching. The girls (and I...though they REALLY have taken over my kitchen in this area) prepare a crock pot dinner first thing in the morning or lay out what needs to be out for dinner if no crock pot is used. This takes the stress off at the end of the day when I realize that dinner's in an hour and do not know what to prepare!

Lunchtime is at noon, and most everyone has completed their seatwork by this time. They will either listen to their Mystery of History CD's during lunch or on Friday afternoons. We do 3 lessons and the timeline for those lessons each week.

Free time and outside play is after lunch (for those who have completed seatwork) until 4:00. Outdoor chores, such as sweeping, weeding, etc. is also done during this time. If it's a rainy or extra cold/hot day, we will watch educational DVD's from Netflix or play games.

Science consists of reading living science books until they turn 12 years old, at which time they read their Apologia text at home and do their lab work with nJoy Science (nice for Mommy's sanity and her kitchen's cleanliness!). Reading and computer time (regular reading time and science) is from 4:00 - 5:00 and that includes science 3 times weekly and our geography (online games and Top Secret Adventures).

At 5:00 we get ready for Daddy to come home (showers, clean up house, set table, ready dinner, light candles, prepare after dinner coffee, etc.). If there is any free time, I might allow computer time, as they're right in and next to the kitchen. Dinner is at 6:00.

Family worship is at 7:30 usually. Daddy leads us in Bible and devotional reading, singing and Bible memory. Bedtime is at 8:00. Older children (mainly Annalise, 18) who stays up later than that goes down to the lower level (the finished basement...full bath, boys' rooms, play room, etc.) until she decides to head to bed. This gives Mommy and Daddy ALONE TIME, which is great!

Extracurricular Activities and Field Trips

This year we have not had our usual Homeschool Hut activities (they only offer dance classes now), so our schedule has a little more to it. We move school work around for field trips and extracurricular activities or lessons...another great benefit of homeschooling!

So far, we have planned on doing robotics (3 oldest boys only), 4H (all kids), CHEA Choir (Kaitlyn only), community outreach and MANY field trips....Old Salem, newspaper, corn maze, Lucille MIller Observatory (4th largest telescope in NC) and more! Though this sounds like a lot with a family of our size, it is really quite manageable!

Entertaining Babies and Small Children

We keep Rubbermaid bins full of toys that they do not usually play with. These bins can ONLY be used during school. They usually play rather quietly (our other kids, being part of a large family, really aren't bothered by the controlled commotion). Another favorite activity is "playing school". They grab a pencil or crayon and scribble away happily, yelling, "Mommy, look! Look!" now and again!

Nap time for Judah (1 1/2) is from 10:30-12 & again at 3:30 - 5:00, and that allows a lot to be accomplished during that time. Since Annalise is no longer homeschooled (she graduated in May), she loves to help out with the littles during school, as well, which is a blessing.

I think that's just about it! Let me know if I missed anything and I will go back and edit!

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Lisa Grace said...

Thanks for sharing all of this; I am going to try to get a schedule like this going with our family ... I think it could work well. Our evening are hard to schedule because it seems like each evening is something different, so we are working on figuring out what will work.