Written by contributor Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
I‘ve been homeschooling my three kids, ages 16, 11, and 10, since 2002. Well, technically, I was only officially homeschooling the oldest way back in 2002. That year was not without its mistakes – the biggest of which was thinking that I had to model our homeschool day after a public school day, complete with the Pledge of Allegiance and recess.
Okay, so the Pledge wasn’t so bad, since I wanted my kids to know it, and my daughter definitely enjoyed her midday half hour outside when the weather was nice, but some of the structure was a little over the top for our rather relaxed family.
However, my biggest mistake didn’t occur until I officially added in the youngest two. See, I had this great idea that we were going to have this whole one-room-schoolhouse thing going on. We’d start with Bible time, then we’d have spelling time, followed by math time, and so on throughout the day.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? So neat, orderly and organized.
Yeah, until you’ve got three different kids doing three different math problems, all needing one-on-one help, and you realize that there’s only one you.
How did Miss Beadle do it?
I know how I did it! I very quickly nixed the everybody-on-the-same-subject-block teaching idea. We still start out the day doing Bible together and we all did science and history together until my oldest started working independently in high school three years ago.
The other subjects, though, got staggered pretty quickly. I started having one or two kids work on something they could do independently, while I worked one-on-one (or two) with the others.
For example, when we first started staggering subjects, my oldest could do her grammar fairly independently, so I’d work with the younger two on their math while she was doing grammar.
Because the Explode the Code books are very consistent in structure, my younger two could work on them with a fair amount of independence even from a young age. I could start one on their ETC, while the other read to me, then, we’d switch out.
I found things like handwriting practice and copy work to be useful, practical forms of “busy work” to keep each of the kids quietly occupied while I spent some one-on-one time with a sibling.
While scheduled subject blocks sounded like a great idea, they just weren’t practical for my family during those younger years. The truth is, that’s probably a lot like Miss Beadle really did it, too!
What methods have you found work best for teaching the multiple ages and abilities within your family?