When I started homeschooling four years ago, I wasn’t homeschooling multiple children. I had one student and a toddler in tow. It wasn’t hard to get through our homeschool day. My biggest stresses usually came from the toddler when she was grumpy or getting into things. Since then, I have added two more students (and another toddler), and now things are definitely a little more challenging. Not only am I trying to keep the toddler out of trouble, but I am also trying to teach and/or manage over 20 homeschool courses. Next year I will add another student, and my head is already spinning.
But I feel like I have had it pretty easy. Some of you haven’t had the luxury of starting your homeschool journey with only one student. Some of you are homeschooling for the first time with two or more students. You are doing a very brave thing. Homeschooling multiple children is challenging but very rewarding. Unfortunately, there is no “magic formula” that works for every family. But here are some tips for homeschooling multiple children that have worked for my family and for some of the other homeschool families I have interacted with.
Work on teaching your children how to learn independently.
Let’s start off by acknowledging that it is probably not possible for you as a homeschool mom to teach every single course to every one of your children. There simply isn’t enough time in the day. That’s why it is so important to teach your children how to work and learn independently. Your children can probably do a lot of things independently now. All of my children do handwriting on their own, and my oldest two teach themselves spelling and Bible. My sixth-grader loves history and has always done very well in heritage studies. So this year, she is teaching herself Heritage Studies 6. I give her an assignment every day, but she completes the reading and any activity manual pages independently. It saves us a lot of time, and she enjoys the challenge.
Teach a course to more than one child if possible.
Some homeschoolers recommend doing subjects like heritage studies and science as a group. That can work well if your children are close in age, but it is difficult to do if there is a large age span between your children. My husband and I tried this approach with two of our children last year. For some reason, we thought that it would be a good idea for my kindergartner to do the same Bible course as my third grader (Bible 3). It wasn’t a good idea. My kindergartner wasn’t ready for the content, so she was frustrated. We ended up abandoning the approach a couple of weeks into the school year.
If you are considering teaching a single course to multiple children, remember that usually it is better to hold back an older child than it is to try to teach something that a younger child is not prepared for.
Enlist the help of older children.
Some skills, particularly those introduced in the early grades, require a lot of practice. Beginning readers may need to review word families or high-frequency words. Second graders may need to practice math facts. Enlist an older child to help younger siblings with these kinds of review tasks. Not only will it save you time, but it is a good review for your older child too!
Rely on video courses.
Our homeschool uses a mix of video courses and parent-led courses. This allows my other children to continue learning while I focus on the needs of one child. We’ve chosen to use video courses for subjects that require a lot of prep work (such as science) and for subjects that I don’t feel comfortable teaching (such as math).
Some days you are going to feel completely overwhelmed with teaching multiple children. Some days you will feel like you accomplished nothing during the day. But on those low days, remember you have accomplished something pretty incredible—you have poured yourself into the education of your children. You won’t regret it.
Homeschooling multiple children has some pretty great rewards. You get to spend more time with your kids, and your kids get to spend more time with each other. In the end, your entire family is going to grow through your homeschool experience.
So don’t give up—you will get through this. And if you need additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local HomeWorks consultant. She’d love to help you!