Teaching Multiple Ages Together
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I have four kids, ages 11, 8, 5, and 2. Let me be honest and say sometimes it can be difficult to homeschool with those age ranges. But it’s definitely possible! And it’s not only possible; it can actually be a blessing. So practically how do you do it?
First off, my middle two are in constant motion and MESS! I’ve just come to expect this, and it doesn’t have as big effect on me anymore. They’re best friends, and if I’m working with my oldest son independently, I can just realize ahead of time that the middle two will probably be into harmless mischief while we work. Sometimes it works to give them something to do while I work with him; sometimes it’s just distracting if we’re all in the same room. If it’s pretty weather, it’s very helpful to get them outside or even just everyone goes outside, and while the three younger ones play, I can work with my oldest.
When it’s time to work with my 8- and 5-year-olds, I employ my oldest son for toddler duty frequently. She’s actually a very good toddler and will often just sit on my lap while I read or supervise math with them. However, it’s extremely helpful for my oldest son to take her aside and work on her letters and numbers. And no, I’m not trying to teach her those really aggressively, but she insists on it.
One benefit to having always homeschooled our kids is they play very well together. (They fight well too!) This comes in very handy in homeschooling because they also learn well together. We can all sit down together on the floor with colored shape blocks. My oldest can work on geometry, the middle two can do addition and subtraction, and my youngest can practice colors and shapes, all together!
We often do read aloud books together. No, I can’t lie and say it’s always peaceful and quiet (It’s very often NOT.), but you will be surprised at what each of them absorbs.
Another option is as soon as younger ones learn to read they can ask the older ones questions. All they need to do is be able to read the answers on flashcards or something similar! In the process, they not only help you and their older sibling they also learn themselves. Never be afraid to put your children to work helping you or their brothers and sisters. This is not a bad thing – quite the contrary! The more your children participate in actively helping the family, the more involved and needed they feel.
Some ideas for combining multiple ages in learning are as follows:
Nature walks! Everyone, regardless of age, can learn and enjoy a nature walk. Not only do they get to learn out in God’s wonderful creation, but they also get some healthy exercise. Older children can help younger ones learn to identify plants and animals. All the children can gather different items that they want to learn more about or do a craft with (leaves, acorns, feathers, berries, etc.).
Plays. We did this multiple times this past year. All of my kids enjoyed making up their own funny play after we read a story. (They loved doing Goldilocks.) Even the smallest member can be involved.
Music. Music is meant to be enjoyed, and no matter what your age is, this is so much fun. Little ones can be taught simple songs or just let them join in with their older siblings and perform for the family or friends.
I hope this gives you some ideas that not only is it possible to homeschool multiple ages at once, but it’s actually an amazing opportunity for both you and your children to love learning together!
Jenny Underwood is a wife to her amazing husband of 21 years and 4 lively children. She blogs at https://www.inconvenientfamily.com where she is learning that blessings aren’t always convenient.