When people find out I homeschool, they often respond with something like, “Oh, I could never do that!” or “I know someone who homeschools” or “I don’t have the patience” and sometimes “I wish I could homeschool.” When they find out that I have four children and am expecting number five, they say, “How do you do teach them all?”
I have always figured that the great founders of the United States were schooled in a one room schoolhouse with many grades. If those 18 year old young women with barely more education than their pupils could do it than there must be a way! In talking with other families with many grades, I have found that no one teaches 7-11 subjects 4+ different times per day with each subject tailored to each grade level the way a public school would today. Every family is going to be different, but I will share what works for my family.
In my home I break up things that must be done individually- learning to read and math and those that can be done together- history, science, art, music, exercise, language, read-aloud books, devotional, scriptures, etc. As you can see, almost everything can be done together. I generally teach to the oldest but explain concepts to the youngest. I ask questions to make sure that all students are understanding. Whatever work I ask to be completed is then done according to the level of the child. For example, I might have a notebooking page on the parts of a flower. Tiger will be off and running and do it himself. Butterfly will do it but ask me how to spell certain words- most of which I will probably have already written on the white board so she can refer to them. Then I take Pumpkin Pie and ask her to orally tell me what she remembers and I write it down for her. I will have her copy a few words. In this way, the bulk of the teaching is done collectively but each child can work to his or her own level.
We always start our day with group time where we cover all our together subjects. After group time, we have individual learning time. During individual learning time I take children aside to work with them on math or reading or something they need help with. Often Strawberry sits on my lap or next to me looking at books or playing with toys while I do this.
Speaking of Strawberry, what on earth do I do with her while I am teaching the older ones!? I bring her along. She either helps us, sits on my lap, plays with special school time toys, colors, or looks at books. Sometimes I hand her math manipulatives that she never gets to play with except during school. When Pumpkin Pie was 2, she sat smack dab in the middle of the dining table during school time playing with the math manipulatives. This kept her happy and out of everyone’s work so I let her stay in the middle of the table. Whatever works!
Checkout what the other Schoolhouse Crew members do with their large families.