I’ve heard from so many families that they would love to find a peaceful and manageable solution to homeschooling children of varying ages. Having multiple levels can make it difficult for any homeschool parent to juggle. However, over the years, my team and I have discovered that homeschooling many different ages can be a “low-stress” (are we ever stress-free?) and enjoyable adventure with just a few simple steps!
The solution to homeschooling multiple children is both a solid organization system and scheduling.
When we say “organization,” we are referring to multiple aspects: actual storage, multi-level curriculum, a consistent routine for learning together as much as possible.
In short, here are a few tips for managing homeschooling with multiple children:
- Develop an organizational system
- Teach several subjects as a group
- Assign independent work to older kids
- Develop a consistent routine
Develop an Organizational System
Organization will save your sanity. Develop a system so each child has a shelf, bin, magazine holder, or drawer for storing their assignments. This way, both you and your children will know where to find their work, where to return it, how to organize it, and when grading is needed.
You may be tempted to organize by subject rather than child, but let me assure you that without clear separations for your children, things will get messy and lost–fast. Now, if you’d like to organize by subject and child, be my guest. The more layers of organization, the better, in my opinion!
Here are a few ideas for a multi-child organization system.
- Purchase storage carts for each child. One like this is great because the multiple drawers can further divide assignments by subject/topic/priority. A more basic cart, similar to this, would also work well.
- Use a large bookshelf to store homeschool assignments, with assigning one or two shelves to each child. You could even label the shelves!
- Use a couple of filing cabinets. Hanging folders will keep papers nicely organized. Devote one or two drawers per child.
- Assign each child a milk crate. They can store their books, folders, and binders in each crate and they can be stacked when they are out of use.
- Consider IKEA drawer units for each child.
Teach Several Subjects as a Group
Many subjects can be taught family-style. Other than math, several subjects can be adapted to varying levels to utilize your time as efficiently as possible. Any subjects taught together will save on time later. You can add assignments or research for older students while assigning less coursework to your younger children.
Teaching in family-style is the #1 recommendation of experienced homeschool parents for managing multiple levels. At the very least, try to start and end the day together or have one subject as a group each homeschool day.
Here are a few types of assignments that can be easily incorporated into family-style teaching.
- Science labs
- Art projects
- Current event discussions
- Read alouds
- Language arts
- Foreign language
Assign Independent Work to Older Kids
As often as possible, give your older kids independent work to complete while you’re helping your younger children. The good news, though, is that many young children can learn to work independently. It’s just the level of work that differs!
For independent work, creating lesson kits or using online homeschool programs can be specifically helpful. Lesson kits are bundles of pre-planned work that you organize for your child to work through on their own. These kits would be something you’ve previously discussed and determined, so when you need to help your younger children, your older children know to automatically move on to these kits or lessons. Further, digital homeschool programs can be specifically helpful, thanks to pre-planned lessons and automated grading.
We’ve personally found that most subjects can be taught as a group, so play around with your curriculum to see how many you can combine. For the one-on-one teaching, though, aim for no longer than thirty minutes per child, if possible. Thirty minutes should be long enough to explain the issues, answer questions, work through a couple of problems, and then move on to your next child needing help.
Here are a few ideas for independent learning resources:
- Online homeschool programs
- Lesson kits
- Educational websites
- Learning games
Look for Multi-Level Curricula
Thankfully, there are numerous options for homeschool curriculum. Home education programs range from multi-subject box textbook sets to free worksheets to online programs and everything in between. Parents have the option to mix and match as they like or stick with one company for each subject.
One helpful aspect of a few curriculum brands is their ability to meet multiple grade levels in one. Oftentimes, these flexible curricula are not published for a specific grade, but rather are intended to cover a certain topic (for example, a period of history) and offer lessons/projects for younger, middle, and older students.
This type of curriculum is a great choice for homeschooling multiple ages at once! Here are a few examples to consider.
- Mystery of History
- Vocabulary Spelling City
- Easy Writing
- Institute for Excellence in Writing
- My Father’s World
- Notgrass History
- Winter Promise
- Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool
- Spelling Power
- Apologia Science
Develop a Consistent Routine
Which subjects are most successful for your children in the mornings? How about the afternoons? Our concentration capabilities vary and while some people may feel their minds are sharpest in the mornings, others may not be successful with intensive work until the afternoon.
Developing an effective routine is going to be your saving grace as a large family. Even if you need to write the daily routine on a large whiteboard or in individual printouts, a thorough routine will help everything get done and everyone will have the help they need.
Besides, children thrive on routine. My goodness, even adults thrive on our schedules! When we know what to expect and we associate it with a happy, fun home, our stress levels are lowered.
Here are a few ideas for developing and implementing a routine.
- Ask your children about their priorities for the year. What are they most interested in?
- Survey if your children learn better in the morning or afternoon–or if it varies per subject! Take a few notes for future reference.
- Slowly start aligning your routine with these notes about priorities and effective learning hours.
- As needed, change it up or put it on a rotation to keep things interesting.
- Perhaps have your kids switch up chores every day/week/month to keep things even-keeled.
Developing a daily routine is deeply rooted in trial and error. However, once you have a working routine, that’s when the magic happens. With our free printable planner and a few practical ideas, you’ll have a strong start!
Homeschooling multi-age children can be challenging, but it’s possible. You just have to get a little creative. But there’s good news: being creative is pretty much what we do best as homeschoolers!
For more help with homeschooling challenges, take a look at our other practical ideas!