The one question we get asked the most about educating at home is how to homeschool multiple ages. When homeschooling multiple children, how do you create a schedule that works?
I’m not going to share our exact schedule. Why? Because it won’t work for you! Our curriculum choices, work schedules, personalities, reading levels, and ages probably don’t sync up exactly with yours.
But, I will give you 11 great tips for homeschooling multiple ages to help you find what works best for you!
1. Make a Plan
Your plan will vary based on your education philosophy, teaching style and how organized you like to be. However, it is important to have some established rhythm to your day.
I’m sure you’ve heard that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” We tend to stay on track and accomplish more with a plan. With multiple kids of various ages, personalities, and subjects to learn — you’re going to need a plan.
- Morning Time
- Independent Work
- One-on-one time with mom/teacher
- Play time
- Daily Responsibilities (Chores)
As a child finishes one subject or time block, they can move on to the next one. This allows for flexibility in case one subject takes shorter or longer.
We place each child’s general schedule on the back of their main school binder. It’s color coded (I love my Excel spreadsheets!) and they can follow along to see what they get to do next.
If you like more detailed or more flexible scheduling — go for it! Make whatever plan works for you and your family!
2. Start Together With Morning Time
This is probably my favorite time of the day. On a practical level, Morning Time helps us have a definitive start time to our school day.
We start all together reading, praying, learning our Words to Live By, and discussing what matters most to us. These are the special moments that make home education so special for our family.
You can read more about our favorite Morning Time resources here.
3. Use a Multi-Age Curriculum When Possible
It’s easy to do some subjects with multiple ages at once, especially if you have multiple elementary grades in your family.
Many history and science curriculums can be tiered for multiple ages, so everyone listens to the lesson but then does age-appropriate activities and additional reading suggestions.
Greatest Works Tour, our music and art appreciation curriculum, is tiered for multiple ages. Everyone listens to the music, observes the artwork, and discusses what they’ve experienced together. Then, young kids complete a notebook activity, elementary kids complete the handwriting practice and suggested books, and older students narrate the discussion questions. (Learn more about this curriculum here!)
With this approach, we’re all learning the same content in an age-appropriate way.
This is especially helpful for the littlest in the family, because they’re usually excited to be learning whatever the older kids are learning!
4. Determine What One-on-One Time Each Child Needs
Each child will have a couple subjects when they will need your full attention. This is especially true with kids who are emerging readers.
Mamas of littles, hear me on this: Once a child can read independently, your homeschool will change dramatically. Take a deep breath – it will get easier!
Whether it’s teaching a young child to read or teaching math to an older one, determine which subjects you will cover one-on-one with each child.
They will need your full attention and they will need to focus, so your other kids need a plan that doesn’t include you!
When I’m having one-on-one time with one child, the other kids rotate through:
- Independent work
- Reading (independently or with a sibling)
- Play time (independently or with a sibling)
5. Teach Kids to Learn Independently
As kids get older and are reading better, they can (and, in our opinion, should) start learning independently.
Determine what subjects your child enjoys, along with which curriculum is geared toward independent work, and set them free to work on their own.
For example, our daughter does history independently. She reads the material, works through her activity book, and does all the supplemental reading & activities on her own. We discuss the topics daily and she reads aloud to me periodically. She really enjoys history, so this was an easy subject for her to do independently.
Each day, I give the older kids a list of their independent work that needs to be done. If they finish early, they can do more independent activities such as logic & word puzzles, or extra reading.
Independent work gives kids responsibility, teaches them to be self-starters, and they can practice managing deadlines.
Plus, it gives you the opportunity to work one-on-one with another child!
6. Take Turns Reading to Each Other
This is one of my favorite parts of home education! I enjoy hearing older kids read to younger kids or help them with their school work.
When I’m working one-on-one with a child, the other two spend some time reading to each other.
Our youngest is an emerging reader, so he gets a LOT of books read to him throughout the day, and we try to have a big, fresh stack of library books for him to hear! (Not sure what to read? Check out readaloudrevival.com, our favorite resource for book lists!)
7. Encourage Naps or Rest Time
Fortunately, all our kids have been good nappers. Our 5
year old is still napping every day.
When educating multiple kids at home, try to keep naps and rest times as long as you can!
Once our kids stop napping, we still keep that time as quiet time or rest time. To be honest, we all need some “alone time” to rest.
When our youngest is napping (usually two hours), our older kids read, practice instruments, draw/color, and do 30 minutes of exercise. I’m usually working or lesson planning.
They aren’t supposed to interrupt each other (or me!) during this time, but we all know how that goes. 😉
8. Make Time to Play
It’s important to set aside time to play every day. Why? Because they are kids!
One benefit of home education is we don’t have to waste time taking attendance, getting in line, waiting in line, talking long bathroom breaks, waiting for the teacher to call on them, listening to things being explained they may already understand, etc.
They can spend that time playing.
Our youngest often plays near us, or even with us at our school table while we learn. Great! He’s hearing
everything we’re talking about.
Also, while I’m working one-on-one with a child, our other kids will go and play together.
9. Cater to Your Need & Your Child’s Needs
You know your energy level throughout the day, and you will also learn when your kids need “brain breaks.”
You’ll quickly discover what subjects may be more draining than others for your child so you can schedule it when they’re fresh.
Again, one of the benefits of home education is the ability to do what works for your child! Don’t be afraid to be a little unconventional if that’s what’s necessary
to give your child the education they need.
10. Have an Organized Space
I get it — keeping a house organized with kids is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.
But, the more organized things are, the more smoothly the day will go.
If your kids know where all their school stuff is, the faster transitions will be and the sooner they can get learning!
In our home, they each have their own shelf and part of a drawer for all their school stuff. They each have a pencil case for their pencils, crayons/colored pencils, erasers, glue stick, and a small scissors. All their books, binders and supplies have a designated spot so it’s easy to find what they need.
I have a shelf, too! But most of my organizing happens on Evernote. I enter most of my plans into Evernote from my computer and then teach from the iPad. (I have plans to write a post or two on how I use Evernote in our school, so stay tuned!)
11. Plan Field Trips
All learning should not happen at home. Kids need to see, small, hear, and touch the world around them!
Visit your local museums, zoos, art galleries, parks, and nature centers. Walk through the woods and even your backyard! Take mini road trips to local attractions. Attend community events and open houses. Go to concerts, musicals, and plays.
We try to go somewhere every week, and I research & schedule them in advance. Sometimes it’s a “real” field trip like the science museum, and other times it’s the local nature center.
Field trips don’t have to break the budget! Museums and concerts typically have school rates for admission (what public schools pay for their field trips). Give them a call, explain you’re a homeschool family, and ask if you can purchase admission for the school rate or a discounted rate. They won’t always let you but it’s worth a shot!
If you’re in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, we’ve compiled a list of 80 FREE Family Day Ideas that work for field trips, too. Just click the button below to get it!
12. Don’t Be Afraid To Adjust
Again, one benefit of home education is being able to do what works best for your family. Be willing to adjust accordingly.
I have made adjustments to our home education every single year! If something isn’t working, we need to admit it and make it better.