Sunday, February 14, 2010

Getting to everyone

This week's Blog Cruise question (well, there are two... I'm not going to answer the one about homeschooling with a baby) is "How do you handle multiple ages?"

I blogged about this topic last June, if you want to see what I had to say then.  Today will be different though, which was one of the points I made then....

Combining your kids, getting around to everyone, or making sure everyone is learning can be accomplished in a lot of different ways.  What works for me today may not work next month, and what worked a year ago, now, or six months from now FOR ME, may not work for you ever.

Basically, my approach to doing it all with everyone is:
  1. I can't do it all.  I have to let go of the idea that I can.  
  2. Focus on the one or two things that each child truly needs right now.
  3. Figure out what they can do on their own.
  4. "Hire" help -- whether that be a sibling, an audiobook, a DVD, something online, or whatever.
  5. Do my best to combine the rest, using multi-age friendly products and not worrying a lot about what they are "supposed to" learn in any given grade
  6. Pray about what to give up.  Because there isn't room to do it all.  
1 -  Even if you are only homeschooling one child, you aren't going to get to everything you think you should.  But especially if you are homeschooling a passel of kidlets, you just can't do it all.  It is likely that someone is going to get shortchanged and someone will be in over their heads.  But you know what?  Somehow, it still works out.

2 - What I do when I'm trying to plan out a school year is to take stock of what each of my five kids really and truly NEEDS right now.  I feel strongly about investing my time into their biggest areas of need.  I'm feeling the need to reassess anyway, so I'll walk through that.
  • Connor (7th) needs to do some serious writing instruction.  And spelling.
  • William (5th) needs to really focus on his reading, and he needs something systematic for math.
  • Thomas (3rd) needs to work on something systematic for reading and math.
  • Richard (K) needs to work on handwriting, and he needs me to find something to challenge him in math and reading.
  • Trina (age 3.999) needs to have something that feels like "real school"
So that means I need to figure out what to do for those individual needs.  That is where the bulk of my one-on-one time goes.

3 & 4 - After I allocate my time to their greatest needs, then I can figure out how to make everything else work.  What subjects do they need to cover?  What of that can they do on their own?  Connor is taking Latin online.  He uses a video-based math program where he really doesn't need me to do much.  William is using Explode the Code online.  We always have an audiobook for read-aloud time.

5 - What can I combine?  We do Bible as a family.  We do family read-alouds.  We tend to do history as a group.  Connor is doing his own thing for science, but I combine the next ones.  We're doing Artistic Pursuits all together.  If I can make something work for more than one child, it is a better use of my time.

6 - Then I look at the remaining holes and pray about how to fill them.  Or if.  Not everything needs to happen right now.  Some things can wait.  Some things can be done less frequently than I'd like.  But praying over my priorities helps me avoid a lot of mistakes.

You can read other responses here.

The TOS Crew Blog is sponsoring a question of the week every Tuesday. How Do You Handle Multiple Ages? and How do You Homeschool with a baby/toddler? is planned for 2/16. I plan to participate as often as possible.

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Elinor said...

Hi, I enjoyed reading your post. this is something I am interested in at the moment. I like the answers you gave -
have a great week

Angie said...

i can SOOOO relate! i love this response, too. i didn't write this one up, but i would have responded very similarly to you (though much less eloquently of course!).

It is very tough, but you have a great outline of how someone can realistically homeschool multiple ages.