How I Handle Teaching Multiple Ages at Once

I was so overwhelmed with the response to my call out for homeschool questions the other day, that I decided to expand on a few of the most frequently asked here on the blog. Now before I go any further I want to say, these answers come from my own experience and may not be the solution for everyone. Homeschooling at its core is a relationship, just like friendship or parenting or marriage. You can read all the books on tips of how to best handle it, but it is going to look a little different for every family.  These answers are about what has worked for my family, so take from them what you will.  

How do you handle teaching multiple ages at the same time?

This topic seems to baffle many of you so I’ll try and explain a little about how I have handled this through the years. First, one of the top goals of our homeschooling is to teach my children to be autodidactic. This means that hopefully the older they are, the more they are able to be trusted to take initiative and handle things on their own as much as possible. I’ve said this before, but I think the culture of homeschool makes children take ownership of their education a little differently than most people are used to seeing. So basically, I spend the most time with the younger ones, usually first thing in the morning. Their lessons take less time so I can give them focus while the older ones start on things for which they don’t need my constant supervision. After I let the younger ones loose, I turn my focus to the older kids and check in to see where they need my help . Sometimes they don’t need much, and other times certain projects can monopolize my afternoon. If I see a pattern of someone needing so much help that I don’t feel like I’m able to give the others the focus they need, I will work out some sort of schedule so everyone knows when I’m available specifically to them. Sometimes I’ll send a child or two with dad to help divide and conquer. As far as managing little ones, it can be cute and great one day and chaos the next! One nugget of wisdom that comes from having little ones for eighteen years is that the phases are so short, so mentally I’m able to deal with them a little better than I used to, and just figure out what works for right now, knowing it’s not forever. Right now, Indy does great most days just playing beside me while I work with the younger kids, then napping while I focus on the older ones, but I’ve done all kinds of things to manage this through the years. There have been seasons where we have done a Mother’s Day Out program a couple days a week. At one point, when I had more tiny people I had a helper come a couple hours a weeks to just fix lunch and entertain the little ones.  Just like everything in life, it’s not perfect, but the best times have been when I am honest with myself about my limits, and take responsibility for managing things before I get to the point of jumping in the van and driving into the sunset.  You can’t expect your kids or partner to draw those lines for you. I hope this helps! I’ll be answering a few more here soon 🙂