How to Homeschool Multiple Ages
Are you homeschooling or considering homeschooling more than one child? Below you will find our daily homeschool schedule for 3 different stages: when I only had preschoolers (ages 4 and under), when I only had 1 child who could work independently and 4 who couldn't, and our current homeschool schedule that includes every age but high school. I have also included a few more tips for general home management.
How do you fit everything in each day?
I get asked that quite frequently. I don't have all the answers, but I am always happy to share what we do and what works for us.
Are you thinking of homeschooling your child or children?
I posted my usual daily schedule for when I only had one child and then two young children at the below posts:
Are you considering homeschooling but don't know where to start? Do you have a preschooler who is eager to learn but you have no idea what to teach or how? Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the options? I have laid out what I do to homeschool my...
Are you considering homeschooling your kindergarten age child or are you already homeschooling and are looking for ideas? I have graduated 3 of my children from “Kindergarten Homeschool” and am currently homeschooling kindergarten with my 4th child....
Balancing Elementary Ages & Preschoolers
My Daily Schedule From 2 Years Ago
1) Bible and Reading: The first activity we do is read the Bible together. Then we read picture books related to our unit study. If we have plenty of picture books related to what we're learning that week, I'll let each child select a book for me to read from the basket of books I've pulled out for that week.
2) Oldest Child's Work: At this point I send off my 9 year old son to do his work for the day. He is fairly self-sufficient. I write out his work schedule each day and he does it himself. If he finishes early, he has free time. So long as I check his work each day, he does do it. He has to correct things he got wrong the next day, so that keeps him from getting sloppy. Every day he does math, Bible, language arts, violin, & spelling. He also reads chapter books on his own that relate to whatever we're studying in our unit study, and he writes a book report on each book he reads.
3) Reading with My 5 Year Old: My 5 year old then reads a reader to me. If he finishes the reader in 30 minutes, he gets an edible treat along with extras to share with his siblings.
4) My Pre-schoolers: My 3 and 2 year old quietly play together in the same room as us. They have 1 container of toys they can play with (Lego's, Mr. Potato Head, Math Counting Bears, etc.) for the entire 30 minutes. If my 2 year old is really fussy or if they aren't playing well together, I might put my 2 year old down for a nap, or I'll have my 9 year old read books to both of them until my 5 year old finishes his reading.
5) 5 Year Old's Math: After my 5 year old finishes reading, he does his math.
6) 5 Year Old Handwriting: After my 5 year old finishes his math, he does his handwriting worksheet on his own.
7) Pre-school Time: While my 5 year old son works on his handwriting, I work with my 2 & 3 year olds. My 3 year old first "teaches" my 2 year old by flipping through a book on colors, numbers, and shapes. She has my 2 year old repeat each color/number/shape after her. Then my 3 year old works on her preschool book. After she finishes her workbook pages, we go through letter & number flashcards.
8) Piano: After that I do a short piano practice with my 5 year old.
9) Variety Each Day: Once a week we have a co-op during which we do all the fun experiments, crafts, etc. related to the science or history/social studies unit we're doing. Once a week we do Latin. In addition to all that, depending on the day we also fit in dance and soccer practice, AWANAS, choir, MOPS, library story time, park time, and 4-H.
Middle School, Elementary School, Preschool, a Toddler, & a Baby
My Current Daily Homeschool Schedule
1) Bible and Reading: The first activity we do is read the Bible together. Then we read picture books related to our unit study. If we have plenty of picture books related to what we're learning that week, I'll let each child select a book for me to read from the basket of books I've pulled out for that week. Sometimes my oldest child will read a couple of these books if I need to attend to my baby.
2) Workbooks: At this point we move into the dining room to start book work. My oldest 3 children have a chart that I printed for each of them that lists what they are to do each day. (I just inserted a table into a Word Document.) Each day of work includes a cleaning activity and an activity they get to do with either my 3 year old or my 1 1/2 year old. So long as I check their work each day, they do it.
a. My 18 Month Old colors in a coloring book, eats snacks, or plays with toys in his playpen which is set up in the room. The toys in his playpen are "special" toys that he only gets to play with while in there. At various points throughout this time, my oldest 3 will each spend 10-15 minutes with him reading, playing with blocks or puzzles, or playing with puppets. The particular activity will be specified on their chart.
b. My 10 Year Old is completely self-sufficient. He does his work in whatever order he desires and only comes to me if he has questions.
c. My 3 Year Old will work on her preschool workbook.
d. My 5 Year Old will read a reader to me.
e. My 7 Year Old does his math, spelling, and piano on his own.
f. My 3 Year Old reads her reader to me and then continues with her preschool workbook until she wants to play on her own.
g. My 5 Year Old works on her spelling, language arts, math, and piano. I assist her as needed.
h. My 7 Year Old works on his language arts and Bible. I assist him as needed.
3) Lunch or Snack & 10 Minutes of Free time
5) My 7 Year Old reads to my 5 year old and to me.
6) Cleaning (if not done earlier)
7) Unit Study Activities
8) Free Time
Individual Attention Once a Week
My children each have an assigned night of the week to stay up late with us. Right now it's fun and games, but I know there will be a time when this will allow for personal discussions to emerge. It's the night I get to read board books to my baby, my 1 1/2 year old gets to play with puppets, my 3 year old gets to put together puzzles, my 5 year old gets to play fun board games, my 7 year old gets to put together wooden kits, and my 10 year old gets to play strategy board games.
Another family I know lets the child be "the parent's helper" on their special day and that is how one-on-one time is spent with that child. I have implemented this slightly. Once a month each of my children get to be my sous chef in the kitchen. We prepare a main dish and dessert or side dish that they picked out from a cookbook or cooking magazine. They help me prepare it, serve it, and clean up after the meal.
More Great Resources
I haven't watched their TV show, but I have read their books. These books are so practical and helpful with advice on so many items (homeschooling, cleaning, service projects, cooking, marriage, training toddlers, and more). Also look for their second book "A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make It Work."
This book was written mainly by the oldest of 3 children and includes sections written by her younger 2 siblings. It was written to be read by siblings (though a parent can definitely benefit from it as well). It talks about applying Christian virtues (forgiveness, selflessness, etc.) to our siblings and gives practical ways to do this.
Do your children do chores?
I have tried numerous chore chart ideas over the years. What currently works for us is paying our children to do specific activities each day. They get 10 cents for each chore completed. We pay them each Saturday night, and they love getting to tithe their own hard-earned money each Sunday morning at church.
Each child has a chart that I printed off using a table inserted into a Word document. I placed the paper in a plastic sheet protector and use a dry erase marker to mark what they did each day. That way I can reuse the charts over and over again. At the end of each day I go through the chart to find out what my child did or did not do that day. This reminds them of what they should be doing each day.
Here's what they currently get paid to do:
a. My 10 Year Old: Brush teeth, Practice violin, Clean children's bathroom, Read to a sibling, Review AWANA verses, Clean bedroom, Clean toy room, Sweep kitchen & dining room, Put away clean clothing, and Finish all daily assignments
b. My 7 Year Old: Brush teeth, Practice piano, Clean guest bathroom, Read to a sibling, Review AWANA verses, Clean bedroom, Clean living room, Vacuum living room, Put away clean clothing, and Finish all daily assignments
c. My 5 Year Old: Brush teeth, Practice piano, Read to a sibling, Clean bedroom, Clean kitchen table & chairs, Review AWANA verses, Put away clean dishes, Help sort clean laundry, Put away clean clothing, and Finish all daily assignments
d. My 3 Year Old: Brush teeth, Put dirty clothes in clothes basket, Put shoes in shoe basket, Clean bedroom, Put away clean dishes, Fold Kitchen Towels, Review AWANA verse, Put away clean clothing, and Finish all daily assignments
I should also mention that everyone is expected to put their own cup, plate, and utensils into the dishwasher.
Need More Ideas?
This has some great, practical tips on how to schedule your day as a homeschooling family. What I especially loved about it was that includes numerous specific weekly schedules from families of all sizes and ages. This is the book that gave me the idea to have older siblings work with younger siblings.
This also has some great, practical ideas on managing your home while homeschooling a large family. One of my favorite tips was having a clothes basket for each member of the family. When I pull the clothes out the dryer, I divide up the clothing right away. Each child is responsible for putting away their clean clothing and then bringing the basket back. Even my 18 month old enjoys doing this (which he can do with some assistance).