How to Homeschool Multiple Ages
One of the most significant advantages of homeschooling is that it allows you to provide your child with a customized, one-on-one education. However, this can be a little tricky if you have multiple children spanning a wide range of ages. For example, if you have four children each taking six subjects, that’s 24 subjects to teach! Since you can’t clone yourself, here are a few ways to make homeschooling work for your family.
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Family Style Learning
Look for a curriculum that is designed to be used with a range of ages. Apologia Science, The Good and the Beautiful Science and History, and My Father’s World are all popular programs that work well for teaching multiple ages at once. Studying some subjects together as a family is more fun for everyone and will allow you to get more done in less time.
If a couple of your children are very close in age, you can likely use the same grade level materials for a portion of their learning. For example, your 3rd grader and 5th grader could both use the same 4th grade science book. Or maybe your 7th grader and 8th grader could both do 8th grade literature. While combining grades will work with many subjects, keep in mind that each child will likely need a math curriculum at their own level. Combining grade levels for reading and writing can work well with older children and teens, but beginning learners will need materials more suited to their abilities.
Consider enrolling some of your children in an online course or two. When children have an online class they can do on their own, it opens up time for you to teach another child one-on-one. Choosing to use an online program for the subject you like the least or don’t feel confident teaching can take a bit of the stress of homeschooling off of you. Even if you don’t enroll your child in a full online course, you can still use screen time to your advantage. For example, you could have a child practice math facts with an online game or watch an educational program while you teach another child.
Help from Older Children
Have an older child work with a younger child while you work one-on-one with another. When an older child teaches a younger child, it’s not just the younger one that benefits. The older child gets to review concepts they previously learned. They also gain practice in explaining and teaching, which can help them develop strong communication skills. Also, younger children often enjoy being read to by an older sibling. Or have a younger child, who is learning to read, read to an older brother or sister for practice.
If it’s in the budget, you could hire a mother’s helper to help you get more done. Young teens are often great for this job. A mother’s helper could come in a couple of times a week to play with your younger children while you teach more difficult subjects like advanced math and science in another room. Doing this will reduce distractions, making it easier for both you and your older children to focus.
Projects, notebooking, or curriculum journals like Fun Schooling Journals are great for getting children to work independently. Independent learning projects can take a bit of the workload off you and allow your children to become more responsible for their own education. This won’t be entirely hands-off for you, but it can reduce the work you are doing in those subjects.
Family Reading Time
Plan time each day to read together as a family. This is another way that everyone in the family can learn about the same topic together. Or it can simply be a way to enjoy great literature together. You could do all of the reading or have children take turns reading aloud. This will give your children valuable reading practice while helping to instill a love of reading and learning. Your family may also enjoy listening to audiobooks together.
Remember to keep records of all of the work your children do, especially if your state requires record keeping for reporting purposes. It can be easy to forget to record things when you have multiple children learning at the same time, especially when some are working independently. You may find it helpful to print one of these free planners and use it for recording which lessons or page numbers each child completes throughout the day. These planners include printable checklists that you can use for assigning independent work to older children.
Free Curriculum Options
In addition to teaching multiple ages at once, another challenge larger families often face is the cost of curriculum. To keep homeschooling affordable, you may want to use free curriculum for a few subjects. At FreedomHomeschooling.com, we list a wide selection of free curriculum for all grades and every subject. To explore curriculum options, choose a subject from the main page menu. Then, on that subject’s page, you will find a list of links to free curriculum resources. There are many options that will work well with homeschooling multiple grades, but here are a few examples of what you’ll find on our free curriculum pages.
Below are some that work well for family-style learning, allowing you to homeschool multiple ages at once.
- U READ THRU History – A unity study approach to history using books, rather than textbooks, for kindergarten through 8th grade
- Mr. Q’s Classic Science – A downloadable life science textbook for grades 1st through 6th
- Mystery Science – Video and activity-based science lessons for kindergarten through 5th grade
- Teaching With God’s Heart for the World – A unit study plan that incorporates Bible into nearly every subject for kindergarten through 12th grade
Here are options that work well for independent learning, freeing up time to work with your other children.
- Easy Peasy Homeschool – An all-in-one curriculum for grades Pre-K through 12th
- Khan Academy – Math courses for every grade, reading comprehension for elementary and middle school, high school science and history, and more
- MasterMath – Video-based math courses for middle school
- Typing.com – A typing course for all ages
- Duolingo – Students of all ages can choose from 25 foreign languages to learn
Again, these are just a few examples of the options that are available. If you browse the free curriculum pages of our website, you’ll find many more!