Friday 4 December 2020

How to Homeschool Multiple Age Groups

Making the decision to homeschool is not always easy. One thing that people often have to consider is whether they will be able to homeschool children of different ages at the same time. When you are homeschooling one child, it is all about them. However, if you have more than one child you will have to think about how you can meet all of their different needs.

I have four children aged 3-10 and homeschooling the different age groups can be a challenge. Until recently, I was able to prepare and deliver lessons for my older two while setting up activities for the little ones, but as the younger two get older I'm having to start to think more about their individual learning needs too. My training as a Speech and Language Therapist has enabled me to develop good observational skills and the ability to adapt work to children's needs as we go. I have been able to transfer these skills over into our homeschool and this has helped me greatly. Now I am going to share my knowledge with you. Here are my tips for homeschooling children of multiple age groups:

Spend time with younger children first

This is my top tip and I believe it plays a big part in making our homeschool run smoothly. After we have had breakfast, and before started formal lessons, I make sure I spend some quality time with my younger children. This normally takes the form of me reading picture books to them. They absolutely love this time we spend together and my youngest will bring books to me as soon as she's finished eating. Once we've spent time connecting, they are ready to do some independent play while I start the older ones off with their first lesson.

Work while the baby naps

If you have a baby or young child who still has naps, you can schedule lessons to take place during this time. This may mean you have to rearrange your learning time every so often but having less noise and distraction from the youngest child can make it worth it!

Set up activities for younger children

This is one of the things I have done consistently over the years. I make sure there are things set up and ready to occupy the younger two while I'm teaching the older ones. Either I will pull out a box of toys, such as the wooden train track or Magna Tiles, some puzzles or set up a sensory play activity like play dough or gloop. It is always a good idea to keep little hands busy while you are trying to get some work done!

Get everyone involved

Young children often enjoy being included in family activities so I always try to get them involved whenever I can. If we are doing a practical activity I give them the equipment too. Recently we did an electricity unit study and they thoroughly enjoyed making the bulbs light up! If we are doing a craft then I give them equipment and let them experiment with it. The youngest might enjoy cutting paper into tiny pieces and my five year old can have a good go at most things - he loves sewing!

Encourage independence

It is great to schedule in time where everyone can be together, but it is also important to find tasks that children can do independently. There are times when I teach but there are also times that I expect my children to be able to get on with a task by themselves. Therefore, I might spend some time introducing a lesson and then set them work to do by themselves. While the older ones get on with their work, this frees me up to spend some time with the little ones again, do some housework, prepare lunch or get ready for an afternoon outing.

Adapt activities

One of the main things I acquired from my speech and language training is the ability to session plan and adapt activities as we go. When I'm planning I will find activities for the children to do and then think how I can step up the activity to make it more difficult or step down the activity to make it easier. It's great if you can think about these things before the lessons so you have everything you will need ready for a slight change in the activity. 

Here are some examples of ways you can step up or step down an activity:

Activity: Write a job advert for a Tudor job.

Step down: Draw a picture of a Tudor job.

Step up: Imagine you are a worker in the Tudor period. Write a diary entry explaining the things you get up to in a typical day.

Activity: Create a poster about rainforests.

Step down: Rainforest artwork

Step down: Rainforest sensory play

Step up: Write an essay about deforestation.

I have created the above printable to help you think about how you can plan sessions and step up or step down certain activities. To get your FREE printable, CLICK HERE!

I hope you found this article useful. What strategies have you found helpful when homeschooling multiple age groups?


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