One of the questions I receive often is How do you homeschool multiple kids? For me, homeschooling a growing family has, at times, felt like a juggling act! Different stages and seasons have required more adjustment than others, and yes, there have been times when just as it seems we’re settling into a nice, smooth routine, it’s time to adjust – again!
Homeschooling Multiple Kids
Over the years, I have put together a number of grade-leveled posts that provide a peek into the basics of what we do during each stage of learning:
but I thought it would also be helpful for you if I put together a post where I share my best tips for Homeschooling Multiple Kids.
Let me repeat that – Learn together. This is my very first and most important tip. How could your family learn together? For us, this has been the key to our homeschooling lifestyle flowing smoothly. It allows us to streamline our to-do list and maximize our time together.
- What could you add to your Morning Time together?
- Could you read as a group in the living room after breakfast or lunch? Yes, with little ones roaming around or playing quietly nearby? (Psst…those little ones are going to be listening to you while you read – even if you don’t think they are.)
- Would it work to do Bible learning together before bed at night?
- How about field trips together on the weekends?
Pam Barnhill’s book, Better Together, includes so many practical ideas for how to do this well! As a former classroom teacher, I have to consistently remind myself that, as a homeschooler, I have the freedom to do things differently. After ten years out of the classroom setting, I STILL battle my old mindset. I re-read this book every so often to get some fresh inspiration in this area – it has helped me to continually challenge myself to be more and more flexible!
Snuggle those little ones first thing in the morning!
Before breakfast, after breakfast, whatever works best with the flow of your morning, make sure those littlest ones of yours (if you still have itty bitty ones in your house) have been snuggled, held, given some time on your lap, read to, whatever fills their cup. This time with you will get their day off to a great start and give them the security they need to then play independently for a time during the morning when you may find it best to teach individualized lessons to your older kids. For us, this is when age-level specific language arts and math lessons typically happen. Sure, this doesn’t flow perfectly each day – yes, there have been seasons when Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and goldfish crackers have been a must – but most days, this tip does the trick!
Need a little extra help throughout the morning? Choose a variety of different toys that are only available to your little ones during the time when you’re working with your older kids. Maybe these will be called Morning Toys or maybe you’ve even put together a different Quiet Box of toys/activities for each day of the week. I’ve seen different versions of these Quiet Boxes on Pinterest. They are usually shoebox size and hold different items for your younger kids to enjoy – but only during this time of day. Make sure they’re not accessible to them at other times – you want to keep them special!
Teach During Snack Times and Meal Times
Do you have a baby or toddler who sits in a high chair during their snack times and meal times? These windows of time have proven to be perfect opportunities for us to read together. Would any of these work well for you during this time when everyone is seated and little ones are contained for a bit?
- scripture reading
- memorization of patriotic documents or songs
- spelling word review
- math fact practice
- science picture books
- history read-aloud
Or does something else come to mind for you as you consider your own unique family?
Learn on the move!
Friends, taking advantage of this can be a game-changer!
- Sing memory songs, recite Scripture, play learning games while you’re on a walk!
- Listen to Scripture memory songs or Adventures in Odyssey in the minivan.
- Bring the read-aloud along to the doctor’s office.
- Practice writing your spelling words while you’re waiting at the dentist or orthodontist. We love using these writing tablets for this activity.
- Make sure the math book comes along for while a child is waiting on a sibling at swim lessons.
Teach During Nap Times
Especially when I have had itty bitty ones in the house, working with my older kids while their younger siblings are taking a nap can be such a fantastic use of time!
- Do you have a child who could benefit from you having a longer more-focused time to help them with their language arts or math?
- Would you like to have a spot of time when you could dive a little deeper into your older child’s creative writing work?
- While your little ones nap, would your older children enjoy having a quiet time of their own exploring coding with Scratch, playing learning games with Osmo, practicing their typing skills with Keyboarding Without Tears, or listening to Adventures in Odyssey audio stories while they play with their Legos?
What do you envision as being a beneficial way to spend this time of day in your house?
No matter the stage or season we find ourselves in, I am usually doing this in some way! Here are some different versions of rotation that have worked for us over the years. Maybe one of these ideas will trigger a possibility for your family.
- working one-on-one with a child while siblings are doing independent work or independent play
- correcting math with a kiddo while an older sibling is reading to their younger siblings or playing a game with them
- sounding out words with kids while siblings are in music lessons or swim classes
- reading phonics readers with younger kids while older kids are getting their showers before bed
- doing therapy homework with one of my kids while their siblings are helping daddy with a weekend chore
- playing learning games with younger children while older kids watch educational media or draw with Art for Kids Hub
- catch up on overdue to-dos with a couple of kids while a Mommy’s Helper plays outside with the other children (Later in this post, I share more about the Mommy’s Helper.)
Don’t feel bad about using a playpen!
I realize the use of a playpen has become a controversial topic in some circles, but for us, there have been times when it’s been a lifesaver – a way to keep little ones contained and safe for a time while I work with older siblings on subjects that require my instruction and guidance. A couple of our favorites have been the:
When I was a classroom teacher, I would use a strategy called Peer-to-Peer Teaching where students would partner up and teach each other. This idea has carried over into our homeschooling environment – only with siblings sets. I love pairing them in all kinds of different ways! How might this work in your home?
- Could an older child read to a younger sibling?
- Would a younger child enjoy having a brother or sister help them with scissor skills, math facts, spelling words, etc.?
- Might a sibling grow even more in a skill they’re learning if they shared what they already know with a brother or sister? We’ve specifically used this strategy when it comes to our children learning more about playing different musical instruments!
Take advantage of nights and weekends!
Homeschooling gifts families with the ability to create routines that revolve around family life rather than attempting to fit family life in around their routines.
Have you ever considered a Mommy’s Helper?
Over the years, babysitters have been a fun way for David and I to be able to go on date nights from time to time, but Mommy’s Helpers work a little differently. Maybe you’re in a season when this would be helpful for you. Want to read about who we’ve used and how it has worked for our family at times?
Would a cleaning swap lighten your load?
This is another idea that over the years has been such a blessing to our family. This was especially helpful when my boys were little.
Looking for more inspiration for how to embrace a more flexible lifestyle of homeschooling?
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The Quick Journey
If you’re embarking on your homeschool journey, or you’ve reached the point where you have multiple children learning, it can feel a bit overwhelming. I’m excited to share some practical and simple ways to homeschool multiple children well.