The “HOW TO” of Homeschooling Multiple grade levels. . .

The number one Homeschooling question I get over and over again is “how do you teach five different grades at one time?”  Oh that’s an easy answer. . .I don’t!  I’ve been homeschooling for over seven years now and I must admit that during the first two years, each semester break, I would research local and even not so local schools.

I started my first year of homeschooling mimicking the traditional classroom.  Actual school desks, a blackboard, maps, number lines, and an alphabet serving as a wallpaper boarder of both print and cursive had overtaken my master bedroom. 

It’s very difficult for those of us who grew up in a traditional schooling environment to actually imagine that learning can be accomplished without being institutionalized.  But not only is it possible for a child to learn outside of the classroom it has been
proven that they actually will remember what they’ve learned better than those students in a traditional school.

Quality VS Quantity

The secret to accomplishing all you have on your homeschool schedule with multiple children is scheduling quality time and making use of resources on hand.

Although repetition is key to ingraining lessons on our children’s brains, it is not necessary to complete formal curricula lessons each and every day to drive in that repetitive ideal.

Curriculum: I use a modge podge approach in teaching.  I use My Father’s World as the umbrella of our curriculum.  This is a wonderful Charlotte Mason, one room schoolhouse approach that allows one mother to teach many children of different ages at one time without running back and forth between different historical periods, science experiments and geographical
maps.  There is one common core; and each child has a lesson book that helps them learn on their own level.  This next semester we will be returning to “Creation to the Greeks” for the second time.  And I love it!  My children study Greek and Latin and have learned to play Chess while traveling through the Bible and Apologetics.  Sounds hard?  Once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t.  It’s fun because they are interested in what they are reading and not just studying to take a test.  The other thing I love about My Father’s World is that I rarely have to purchase materials now since I bought them all during the first four years.  They are re-usable!!!

Math U See is our primary Math program.  Once you purchase the teachers manuals and DVD’s, you will only have the need to
purchase new lesson books with the next child that comes along.  Math U See uses a tactile approach and teaches math- building the next objective once each step is mastered.

Spelling U See
is a new Spelling program through the same creators of Math U See.  In the past I have used Spelling Power for our older children.

Handwriting without Tears has been excellent for our left handed children and those who hae naturally messy handwriting.

Using Your Resources:

Homeschoolers today have a wonderful resource in the Tablet and laptop.  For Christmas and Birthdays, we purchased IPad Mini’s that were already opened for a discount.  Downloading Applications to keep that repetition using fun games is a must for our family.  While at the doctor or riding in the car, our kids can use their devices to keep their lessons fresh in their minds.  This is a perfect tool for our Right-brained children.

Don’t have a tablet? You can still supplement through Netflix which offers a number of supporting videos for Science, History and Math.  By “supporting” I mean once you’ve introduced a topic. . .check out what movies/videos they have about that topic.  Watching it makes it come alive and things that are alive are remembered!

Not wanting to come up with your own lesson plans?  That’s ok, online help such as Easy Peasy is a great way to start without breaking the bank.

1. For the computer, IXL Math and Language Arts is a wonderful and not very expensive online tool that all of the children can use
on their days when I’m not one on one with them or on a day off.  They can also use the Application on their devices for practice tests. Each child has their individual tab that tracks their progress.

2. I also like using Geography, Grammar, History, and Science apps to drill concepts learned.

3. Check out Bestappsforkids.com for additional support such as “this is my body,” “slice fractions,” and “splash math.” I particularly like using the Ipad’s for Geography.  These 3-D maps are fun as well as informative.  If you own anything Microsoft, you can use the same app on 5 different devices.

Scheduling your week:

I have five children, grades 11, 7, 6, 3, and Kindergarten.  I also run a home based business here on the farm all along while maintaining my writing.   Add the usual household duties and you can see why there is a realistic need for a workable schedule.

I don’t teach one on one with all children every day.  That would be insane!  Instead, I like to have 2 quality days a week with all of our children introducing new lessons, concepts and answering questions and then schedule 2 days where they can study and review on their own using work book pages, reading stories, or using their electronic devices to make what we just learned interesting and come alive!

Here is how we tackle our weekly schedule.

The boys get one on one instruction on Monday’s and Fridays while the girls get one on one instruction on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  They tackle seat work and drills on alternate days.  Wednesdays are OFF!

The boys schedule
(grades 11, 7, and 6)

Mondays and Fridays
are dedicated to one on one teaching time with our boys.  This includes subjects such as: Language arts, Geography/History, Science, Math and for the oldest. . .an elective. During this time with the boys-The girls work on a few pages from workbooks
such as handwriting/spelling and then use applications on their Mini’s for other lessons.

Balance Seat work and actual teaching:

-I start off the week with History for the younger boys while the oldest is doing Science on the computer.  This gives me a chance to introduce a lesson to the younger ones while the oldest is reading.  History lessons include lots of reading, question/answer pages, and internet searches to gather detailed information.  In My Father’s World, Geography and History are all covered under the same set of papers.

-Then while the younger ones are answering History questions, I’ll explain the Science lesson or experiment to the oldest.  We use Apologetics for Science which includes a lot of reading.  For some of our children, they simply get lost in the mounds of papers.  So we have found the audio reading cd that comes with the Apologetic curriculum serves them better.

While Monday’s are dedicated to all History and Science; we take Fridays for all of our Language Arts.  I introduce a new lesson
to the younger ones while the oldest is engaged in his Literature reading.  It’s important that as they grow, the children learn how to comprehend what they’re reading and learn to do seat work on their own.  But on Monday and Fridays, I am right there to introduce and explain each lesson as well as answer questions on hand.  Our Language Arts consists of Spelling, Vocabulary, Writing, Reading/book reports, and Grammar.  We also use Thursday’s as Math drill days.  Each one uses the Math U See website’s drilling tab to constantly review math facts.

Tuesday and Thursday:

-These days are dedicated to one on one instruction time with the girls.  The girls’ curriculum from My Father’s World is independent from the boys.  Because they are in the stages of learning to read, write, and study, I spend more time with them on their days.  I’ll start the oldest girl on her lesson and then while she’s completing her assignment, I’ll switch over to the youngest.  We balance reading, writing, Math, spelling, and Science.  History will come later.  Right now, our History is the Bible.

So what are the children doing on their OFF days?

Good question.  No matter what the day, we start off each day in the living room. . .usually in jammies, doing a Bible study and prayer time.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are Math days for the boys.  They do their Math assignment and then complete whatever reading/writing assignment I have given them the day prior.  Then on Thursday’s they add Math drills.

Many of you may be concerned that the children only seem to study subjects once or twice a week.  Subjects such as Science and History.   Whatever concept they are learning on Monday, they will review all week long using applications on their devices.
This drills in the lesson and they retain much more than someone who has spent all week answering questions and reading lessons.

For our children with ADD tendencies- we have learned to keep lessons short and break often.  Our actual schooling hours are from 9am till 2pm.  That is five hours of studying with a few small breaks in between.  Lunch is usually taken during an elective course or while I’m reading aloud the book of the week.

We take off on Wednesdays!!!

We only school four days a week.  We do not have to waste time:

-getting all dressed up for school, pack a lunch, eat a fast breakfast, and commute to school.

-home room time and time wasted getting everyone to settle down in the classroom.

-standing, waiting, walking in lines.

-Wait on others to get the concept before moving on

-studying for standardized tests

-taking standardized tests!

We do more in our
four days than most do in an entire week!
 Wednesday’s off means the children can sleep in while I have my weekly quiet time.  I
can catch up on any lesson plans needed to get me through to the next Wednesday without sacrificing my weekend with the family.
Having a break in the middle of the week also means I can schedule any errands or doctor’s appointments without breaking into our study time.

We love this schedule of learning and it has faired better than our usual conquer every subject every day.  Having supporting applications, websites, video’s and online drills allows our children to be constantly learning even if I am not available for one on one instruction.  They know what to expect and they know what I expect from them.  The consistency keeps us on track and keeps me from feeling overwhelmed that we did not cover a particular subject each and every day.

Happy Learning!

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