Homeschooling one child is a challenge.

Now throw in one or more into the mix and it’s a much bigger challenge.

How are you supposed to get it all done without losing your mind? Or without sending them off to public school?

First, take a deep breath.  It’s going to be okay.  I’ll share some things I’ve found to help me to not only stay calm, but to enjoy teaching.

Before we get started:

Here is the rundown of my kiddos:

  1. 2nd grade son {B}
  2. Kindergartner/1st grade daughter {J}
  3. Preschool son {Jk}
  4. 2-year-old daughter {M}

so that when I reference them you won’t be confused or inundated with 2nd grader, 1st grader, preschooler, toddler, over and over and over again.

{J} is more like a 1st grader since she hung out with us so much last year and did school work with {B}.  It’s lovely!

Group Group Group

Teach them together when you can.

Benefits

  • push each other
  • encourages them (youngest feels as smart as older)
  • save my voice
  • save my budget
  • build relationships by working on projects, experiments, and activities together
  • fun!

Downsides

  • may require customization for one child/grade level
  • may have to group like grades together (i.e. 5th with 4th, and 2nd with 1st)

How to do it

  • pick broad topics easily adapted
  • arrange seating for interaction and ability to see
  • have fun customizing — get creative

We do History, Science, Art, PE, reading, copy work, and narration together.

Solo

Teach your children to do independent work. Find curriculum or activities you have or create that they can do alone.

Benefits

  • fosters independence
  • creates self-confidence in their abilities
  • not depending on mama/daddy
  • can work with other children

Downsides

  • may take some time for them to let go of you
  • may be harder with youngsters

How to do it

  • Coordinate subjects
  • gauge time to complete subjects
  • pick activities, projects, & school work
  • do bonus activities they might not otherwise get to do
  • snack time
  • free time
  • chores
  • help younger sibling
  • play outside

When I am working on math with {J}– {B} is doing his copy work and reading on his own. When I am doing math with {B}– {J} is working on her handwriting, or a math manipulative.

Sometimes I will create an art project for them to do. We are working on writing stories this year, so I’ll have them draw a picture of their story, build it out of Legos, or act it out with other toys. I’ll have {B} work on writing it out.  I have {J} do some copy work of the pre-written story so she can practice.

Youngsters

My 2 year old daughter is nuts and wants lots of attention.

How to deal

  • an older child plays with her
  • set aside activities for her (she loves our math cubes, counting bears, and pattern blocks)
  • create activities for her to do as well.
  • wait to do some school work after she is down for a nap/quiet time

I know some homeschoolers believe in doing school with their tots around.  I can see their arguments, but for me, it was just too much.  I want her to feel included as much as I can, so I choose not to do some of it when she is awake to avoid lots and lots of tears (some of them hers).

Join in

My preschooler wants to do school at times and others he doesn’t.  I encourage and invite him to join in or watch, but don’t require it.

Benefits

  • feels included
  • learns even if not learning as much
  • gets to play
  • prepares himself for the coming years

Downsides

  • can be disruptive
  • needs more attention with projects
  • can’t participate in everything

How to do it

  • have materials on hand for him to use
  • invite, but don’t require
  • explain more simply to them when they are interested
  • encourage older children to “teach” him
  • If he is disruptive he is placed somewhere with a job to do out of earshot of my older kids.

I have a curriculum I use with {Jk}, but am not strict.  I do quite a bit on Fridays because it’s a shorter day for the older two and only a little bit of work the other days with him.

I work with him after school is over for {B} & {J}.  I do this because I think as the third child, he needs my undivided attention.

He loves this time and does really well. As the year progresses I will up his schooling to include more as we all adjust.  I am a big fan of not adding in too much than I can handle, and to ease slowly into it.  Like a freezing cold pool.  I am not a fan of jumping in. I want to wade in inch by inch, taking about 30 minutes to go fully underwater.

Position

I sit at the head of the dining table and have my kids sit across from each other on the sides.  I can easily teach them all with group work. Everyone can see the book, the pictures, the demonstration. Everyone can hear.  When they are being individually taught or doing independent work I can quickly turn to help a struggling kid without getting up to stop what I’m doing with the other.

When we move to a bigger place with a room just for homeschooling I’ll probably get desks for each kid and a group work table.  I like the option of being together, but also if they need quiet to focus (as I do) they can have that option.

Well, these are the tips that I use every day to not only get us through the day, but to enjoy it!  As I go throughout the year and figure out even more tricks I’ll add them in. 

Your Turn

What do you do to make your homeschool day run smoothly with multiple children and grade levels to teach?

 

 

About Rochelle Barlow

Rochelle is a homeschooling mom to four fabulous and crazy children. She is also a writer, blogger (at http://rochellbarlow.com), ASL interpreter and TW transcriber. Rochelle works with the youth group at her church. She loves the joy and fullness that knowing and loving God brings to her life and the lives of all people. If she ever had spare time you’d find her reading, sleeping, or eating. Or a combination of all three. It’s a good thing she really loves what she does all day! Twitter: http://twitter.com/rochelle_barlow Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104451740147560302298/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rochellebarlowauthor

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