The Homeschool Minute ~ Teaching Multiple Levels

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Teaching Multiple Levels
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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family

Keeping all your kids busy and engaged and learning, all at different levels? In my opinion, that is a small miracle, because in any given day, I am overseeing more than a dozen things at the same time all day long. I am the ring leader, the lion tamer, the teacher, the organizer, the janitor, the police, the counselor, the nurse, the tour guide, and the refreshment coordinator! But, I have found that if my heart is in the right place of obedience and yielded service, it is one miracle God loves to provide.


What does teaching multiple levels look like? This next year, I have a senior in high school, one in 10th grade, 7th grade, 5th grade, and 2nd grade. I am not a super organized person, nor am I a great scholar, but this is how we operated this last year (it has been different every year and I have been at this for twenty years).

  • Everyone gathers together for Bible Memory as a group effort.
  • Everyone gathers together for science or history several times a week.
  • Each child has their own crate of curriculum at their own level to proceed through daily.
  • Mom sits with the kids at the table during school time and answers any questions.
  • Children alternate seatwork with computer work.
  • The high schoolers are almost completely independent. (The TOS High School Planner is great for planning and recordkeeping – and it is free if you are a member!)
  • After schoolwork is done, then household chores commence. Free time only comes after schoolwork or chores are all completed.
  • All the children are taught how to prepare food and serve each other.

TIPS: Do as much as you can all together. Have older siblings help the younger ones. Take advantage of nap times to teach others. Do lots of read alouds and books on tape during constructive play. Find out what each child delights in and take turns studying those subjects. If babies and toddlers are present, give yourself grace and stick to the basics of education. Spend time writing your thoughts down about each child and pray for guidance.

Multiple grades under one house, can mean multiple challenges. Find peace in your little schoolhouse by going to the Prince of Peace together. Seek Him with all your hearts and you will not lack any good thing. Your Good Shepherd wants to lead you by still waters and refresh your soul. The only requirement is that you come to Him.

You are teaching your own children like no one else on earth can. Thank God for the freedom to direct their education and their character. And for those days when your strength is exhausted from giving again and again, let the words of one of my favorite
hymns encourage you.

Enjoy all the blessings and the freedom of keeping these children
Home Where They Belong.



P.S. Have you checked out the
Summer issue yet? Totally free, and totally worth your time. Especially if you are lagging in inspiration and motivation–reading through this issue will reignite the flame of home education. After you’ve read through the issue, email me and let me know your favorite sections or articles. We are here for you.


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Raising Real Men    

Surveys of homeschoolers say that most of us have more than one child–the Department of Education found that 54% of homeschool families have three or more children! And that means most of us will probably be teaching multiple grades at the same time. We have eight children, and one year Melanie taught six grade levels … with a toddler under foot, too!

So it can be done … here are some things we learned along the way:

If you’re homeschooling from the beginning, you’ll usually just add one student at a time. That’s how it was for us. By the time you have two or three students, you will already be a “veteran”! You grow in your confidence as a teacher as your “student body” grows.

Start the day with devotions. It may be your whole family before Dad leaves for work, or you might have Bible time in school and family worship in the evenings. Whenever works best, keep God and His provision in view!

Make the most of subjects which can be multi-level. It’s easy to have different grade levels in the same elementary science program–in fact, some curricula are designed that way! History can be taught the same way, and so can music and art or even foreign languages, sometimes.  Math and reading, not so much, but teach the whole group when you can and make your class time count twice or more.

Help your older students become more independent learners. Elementary students take more one-on-one time with their teacher, so teach your older students to read assignments for themselves and work on ahead, with Mom as their consultant for questions and directions.

Launch the older students first, then work with your beginners in the meantime. Even if your “senior” student is just a few years ahead of your “junior,” he or she will probably be able to work at least a little while without constant interaction. That will give you time to work step-by-step with your more demanding learners.

Don’t let the thought of your large family make you hesitate to homeschool–with God’s help and a few simple tricks, you can teach more students than you might have thought!

In September, we’ll be traveling across the South from North Carolina all the way to Texas. If you’d like to hear us speak at your church or homeschool group, find out more on this page!

Yours in the battle,

Hal and Melanie 


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The Art of Reading


Adam Andrews

Multi-Age Lit Classes: Pipe Dream or Piece of Cake?

Literature can be one of the hardest subjects to teach to multiple levels. Not only do the kids decode the language at different levels, but the range of emotional development among students of different ages makes it almost impossible to meet the literary needs of more than one at a time.   

If you understand a couple of key principles, however, you can solve this problem instantly and set up an efficient multi-age class in your own homeschool right away.

The first principle is this: Literary analysis, even at the high school and college levels, is nothing more than recognizing the structural, stylistic and contextual elements that make up a particular story and understanding how an author uses them to make his point. In other words, you analyze a work of literature by examining its structure, style, and context in order to understand its meaning.

The second principle is this: All stories, regardless of reading level, have the very same structural, stylistic and contextual elements.
In significant ways, that is, all stories look the same.  They all have a setting, for example. Each story takes place in a particular time and location and in a particular social, cultural and economic milieu. All stories have characters as well, of course. Each one features a protagonist, whose effort to accomplish a goal despite various obstacles is the central conflict of the story. All stories describe this event in a plot, which proceeds through phases such as exposition, rising action, climax and denouement. Finally, all stories articulate a theme or main idea that represents the author’s contribution to an intellectual conversation with the reader.

There’s no such thing as a story without all of these things. Even bedtime stories, the simplest books in the world, have them all. 

If this is so, shouldn’t you be using bedtime stories to teach literary analysis?

Think about it: Russell Hoban’s
A Bargain for Frances (written for second graders) has all of the same strucutral and stylistic components as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Which story do you think presents these components most clearly? Which story is the most accessible? Which story can you read and discuss in one sitting? In short, which story will best help your tenth grader learn literary analysis?

I suggest that all of your students, regardless of age, will be best served by learning to analyze bedtime stories as literature. 

This will have at least two powerful benefits. First, the skills your students learn from analyzing bedtime stories are immediately applicable to books at their own reading level, whenever you choose to assign them. Learning to examine well-written children’s literature and read it closely will make better readers out of every student in your home school, regardless of his age. 

Second, the use of bedtime stories makes a multi-age classroom a piece of cake. Remember: If literary analysis is learning to recognize and understand the building blocks of stories, and if all stories have essentially the same building blocks,
then all kids can learn literary analysis with the same stories, at the same time.

Hopefully, this idea can help you to meet the literary needs of all your students simultaneously, freeing up valuable time and energy for other, equally important things!



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The Mother’s Role in the Home School 
Part II: The Mom as Teacher 
The Mother's Role in the Home School

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