Teaching multi-age siblings is loads of fun. In homeschooling my three children, I appreciated how learning side by side brought us closer as a family, and I marveled at the ways my children inspired each other to be their best. However, homeschooling multi-age siblings is not without its challenges. There are a finite number of hours in the day, so I often I wondered how I could possibly address each child’s learning goals and still find time to fix dinner.
Over the years, I developed strategies to ensure I addressed my children’s individual academic and emotional needs and that dinner was on the table before midnight!
Spend one-on-one time with each child.
For those with large families, this can sound nearly impossible, especially if the goal here is saving time and streamlining our efforts. In my experience though, when kids are recipients of one-on-one time with mom and dad, they feel affirmed and refreshed and are able to work and play independently for longer stretches of time.
Look for pockets of time that might not be immediately evident. Invite your child to ride in the front seat as you do errands in town. Take a walk or prepare a meal together. Essentially, ask your child to join you while you do the things you are going to do anyway. During this special one-on-one time, discuss subject matters you are not able to address with your multi-age crew.
Allot time for board games and outdoor play and watch the amazing learning that takes place. Suggest games all of your children can enjoy together. This is a good opportunity for older siblings to assist younger brothers and sisters as they develop fun, new skills.
Traditional education systems divide subjects into isolated parts, but real life doesn’t work that way. For example, just baking a cake with your child teaches skills in reading comprehension, math, and culinary arts. All the major subjects work well this way, particularly with younger learners.
Conduct unit studies.
Unit studies don’t just inspire meaningful learning; they also help larger families maximize the hours of the day by making it possible for siblings to learn together.
Identify a learning theme the whole family will enjoy. From there, choose reading materials that will appeal to each of your children. Select storybooks and easy readers for your littlest learners, chapter books for older kids, and living books for the whole family to read aloud. Similarly, you can modify any additional art and science activities you include.
Introduce children to computer-based learning.
As you read storybooks and snuggle with your little ones, older children can learn to manage their time and work independently through computer-based learning. Check out the great apps, online classes, and free learning programs available online.
Live your Homeschool life.
Take the kids on a hike, go grocery shopping, and clean the house together. While doing so, establish an environment that inspires meaningful conversation with one another. Through this, your children’s richest learning moments and most magical memories will be developed.