Combine Children for a Well-Run Homeschool

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Can you imagine attempting to use 30 or more separate curricula in your homeschool for all of your children? Even a smaller family may be looking to use and purchase 10 different programs to homeschool their children. It’s overwhelming and too much!

Combine your children for a well-run homeschool

While combining children in skill subjects such as math and phonics rarely works, most content subjects are able to be combined successfully. In general, I’ve found two simple methods to combine children. Combine them in the same curriculum or combine them by studying the same topic.

Same Curriculum

Using the same curriculum for most or all of your children is the easiest way to combine kids. Many curricula, such as Tapestry of Grace, Mystery of History, Biblioplan, and Christian Kids Explore Science are meant to be used by a wide range of ages.

My family uses Tapestry of Grace so I’ll use it to demonstrate the benefits of combining children into the same curriculum.

Tapestry of Grace is a unit study that includes literature, writing, history, geography, fine arts, world view, and even government and philosophy for rhetoric students. When I open my week plan for Tapestry, I see the assignments for my 5 and 6-year-olds as well as my older children.

For instance this week my kindergartner has no writing assignment. (To be frank, kindergartners are never given a writing assignment.) My 1st grader this week is writing a sentence about John Quincy Adams’ presidency. My 8th grader is starting a report about the settlement of Texas and my 11th grader is beginning a literary analysis paper.

We’re all enjoying a read-aloud about Queen Victoria and will read this book gradually over the remainder of this year.

All my kids are studying the same historical and geographical topic. The literature varies, but I can find the assignments on the same page. Fine arts is also easy to combine by having all the children doing the same projects or reading about the same artist or musician.

My life is easier since I’m not trying to find information on dozens of different topics.

Same Topic

You don’t have to combine children into the same curriculum though. Instead, do it yourself by keeping the children studying the same topic. For instance, the entire family could study dolphins.

Find each child books on dolphins at their reading level. Assign appropriate writing assignments or simply using notebooking pages for children to show what they’re learning.

My family did this on a larger scale with earth science and astronomy one year. Earth science and astronomy break down neatly into four groups: astronomy, geology, meteorology, and oceanography. Each quarter we studied one of the groups.

I found a science program for the younger children that spends 8 or 9 weeks on each of the groups and included science experiments. The children and I read from the science program.

My high school teenager was too old for the science program. Instead, I found books at the library on each of the 4 topics. He read those and wrote about what he learned. Notebook pages work beautifully for this purpose. Everyone studied the same topic. We did experiments and watched documentaries together. However, every child in the family worked at the appropriate level.

Combining kids takes a bit of creativity. However, with the appropriate books, notebook pages, or curriculum it’s the perfect solution for a large family.

Do you combine your children for some or all subjects?

Read more posts from the 31 Days to a Well-Run Homeschool series!

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4 Comments

  1. Even though we only have two boys, we STILL combine subjects to make things easier, cheaper, and more family oriented. We’ve always done our history together. Science is another great subject to combine! Great tip!

  2. We partially combine most subjects. Our two school age kids are 2.5 years apart, and have different areas of talent, so completely combining doesn’t work, but there is still a lot of togetherness. For instance, we do math centers together, and they practice their math facts together, but then she does her 3rd grade math while he does his 1st grade math. He’s really good at math, so I suspect we will have a brief time when they do ALL their math together as he overtakes her… then he can teach her 😉 The older one reads aloud to the younger one, and they watch each other do their computer work. They do the same typing program, but at their own pace. They both listen to Story of the World, but the older one writes about what she listens to, the younger one just tells me what he heard. For science I try to have him do the same topic, but in younger format. She’s really good at science, so I can’t really use her curriculum for him, or hold her back by using a curriculum he can understand, but we can at least do activities together and he likes to ‘help’ with her experiments. I love reading about how other people combine things, because it really helps me think of ways to save my sanity. Especially with a three year old and 10 month old in the mix!

    1. It sounds like you have a great system going for you! When I’m combining a subject like science, I prefer looking for a curriculum which gives assignments for both older children and younger children, then we can all enjoy the experiments together. It doesn’t help when I’m trying to combine high school and elementary school, but it does help keep life sane when the age span is only a few years. And sanity is important with children running around the house! 🙂

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