Teaching More than One: Part 1

By Christine Bullock

Some of us begin our homeschool journeys with more than one little one in our home. I was pregnant with our third when we began to formally homeschool our oldest child and like many others I had visions of a happy houseful contentedly finishing their school work with little struggle. Alas, babies and toddlers add energy and distraction. Teaching elementary, middle school and high school at the same time is equally daunting. It takes time and practice to learn how to effectively manage a one room schoolhouse.

Tip #1 Check Out Multilevel Teaching

One of the best ideas I encountered as a beginner was multilevel teaching. Instead of teaching each child using his own grade-level textbooks, many homeschool parents teach all their children the same subject at the same time, but give them assignments based on their ability. We have done this for years in Bible, science, history, geography and literature. An abundance of resources are out there, many for free online. Lapbooking, Notebooking, Unit Studies, and Living Literature are all terms to look up online. This method has simplified our homeschooling and made it far more functional. My favorite hour of the homeschool day is when we are cuddled together on the couch reading while my children beg me to keep going. Learning happens organically.

Tip #2 Consider Self-teaching Curriculum
for Older Children

Time is something we run out of so often when we are teaching more than one. Choosing a self-teaching curriculum frees you up from daily teaching but allows you to help when needed. We have used a DVD math program for our students. I even have them correct themselves once I believe they are trustworthy and not overly tempted to cheat and then I check up on them periodically just to make sure. The online world is full of all sorts of educational programs that can teach your child directly and allow you to see their progress but be careful to always check content so you do not encounter "surpises."

Tip #3 Take Time to Plan

Scheduling our school subjects became a necessity as my kids got older. One is ready for a spelling test, another needs help with grammar but mom can’t be in two places at once. When I schedule subjects, I stagger the times I know I will be needed with my various kids, that way each gets the mom time they need on a consistent basis. This lets them know mom will be available to them at certain times and to move on to something else if it isn’t their turn yet. Mom needs to have a concentrated time to plan all of this out.  It has become an annual tradition for me to shoo everyone off with dad for a few days in the summer to allow me to do this.  I have friends who take their school planning on camping trips and hang around the cosy campsite while the family heads out each day. A few others go to a hotel or b&b to get the quiet space they need.  Find the time that works best for you and snag it before it gets used up with the other urgent things in your life.

Tip #4 Use Assignment Sheets

In Oregon we are not required to keep track of hours or days like some other states, and I have heard from many moms that this can actually be a bit unsettling. They don’t always know “where” they are in schooling. Having a weekly or quarterly assignment sheet to track your student’s progress is a great way to have a visual on how you are progressing throughout the year. It can be a simple grid listing the subject with five empty slots that your students can fill with a fun sticker, check mark or grade from mom. Instruct them to share their completed assignment sheets with Principal Daddy at the end of the week. This provides Dad with an idea of what the family is doing and lets him give them incentive to keep going as well. Donnayoung.org is a great site for freebie planners.

Tip #5 Involve all the Children

Little ones can often learn far more than we give them credit for. Let them be part of what you’re doing. If they can sit still, hold them on your lap and let them hear what you are teaching. One of my younger children basically learned to read this way. If they are wiggly let them sit on a blanket on the floor with a handful of toys or coloring pages. Teach them to stay on their “boat” during teaching time and not fall into the water. Have your little ones show flash cards to their older siblings and then rotate the older ones to play with the younger ones off and on during the day. Don’t forget to use those older children to help teach the younger ones. This builds a lifetime of memories and relationships.

Continued Tips to follow.....

 

 

The Bullocks happily juggle homeschooling their houseful in the lush green Willamette Valley.

 

Posted by Christine Bullock on Aug 24, 2013 at 1:11 AM | Categories: Encouragement - Beginning the year - Family life - Homeschooling -

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