Essential tips for homeschooling a large family.
As a homeschooling mom with 6 children, I’ll be honest. Homeschooling a large family is rewarding, but it isn’t easy. There are several tips that make life easier and homeschooling more rewarding.
1. Use a single curriculum for all kids
Changing the curriculum constantly drives everyone crazy. You spend boatloads of money on curriculum.
Kids lose ground with each curriculum change since no two curricula cover the same material at the same time. You have to go back and review the material.
Children thrive when you begin a curriculum at the beginning and follow it the entire way through. No concepts are missed. No critical steps left out. Understanding is built one small step at a time.
You learn the curriculum. There’s nothing like sitting down with your 4th child and knowing how to teach a concept. After all, you’ve taught it 3 times before and know the areas you need to explain in more depth. You know its weaknesses, its strength, and how best to use it.
2. Invest time and money into training yourself
Instead of investing money into various curricula trying to find one that’s a perfect fit for each child, invest time and money into training yourself. Listen to audios about the curricula you’re using. Read books to learn more about the subject.
You’ll be able to customize your curriculum for each child rather than spending time, money, and energy trying to find a perfect fit.
Being able to customize and adapt your curriculum also keeps you from being bored teaching the same material again and again and again.
3. Be adaptable
Children change. Plans change. Nothing happens just the way we want it.
Change assignment topics to ones more interesting to your children. Adjust the order of subjects for the day.
Tutor an older child while cuddling a baby on your lap. Drill facts while juggling your toddler on your hip.
Be adaptable to the immediate needs of your family.
4. Routines or Schedules are your friend
Kids do best when they know when and where they are to be at a specific time. If they know what they’re supposed to do when they wake up. If they know the time they get to play with an older sibling or eat breakfast.
Set a simple schedule for the family, or a more complicated one, and follow it. It can be a chart showing what each member of the family is supposed to be doing at any given moment of the day, or a simple list of the daily routine.
Both work and work well when homeschooling a large family.
5. Have kids alternate playing with the youngest child or children
Having the older children alternate playing with the youngest child serves several purposes. First, it gives you time to spend homeschooling other children.
Second, it encourages tight sibling bonds between children. They have time each day to spend with each other. Time to laugh together. Time to play.
I discourage problems by having feuding children sit next to me during their playtime.
6. Combine or have kids studying similar topics as much as possible
Combining children and having them study similar topics and doing similar assignments saves me headaches. I don’t need to wonder what any given child is writing this week. I know everyone is writing a history paper.
We’re able to watch educational documentaries and movies as a family. The same field trips are appropriate for the entire family. Family dinners become an ideal time for discussions.
7. Tutor each child individually
Unless children are extremely close in age with similar gifts, often their skill sets vary widely. I strongly recommend sitting down and tutoring each child daily.
We cover math, grammar, and Latin. I can double-check understanding in other subjects. It gives me time to touch base with each child.
8. Have a group time to gather
Even though skill sets vary widely, there are often activities that can be enjoyed as a family. Take advantage of these activities when homeschooling a large family.
Art projects are wonderful for everyone from the toddler on up. Especially if you ensure the materials are nontoxic. Good books can be read aloud, music listened to, and poetry memorized.
You can even head outside for nature hikes as a family. High school kids may understand and create more detailed nature journals than preschool kids, but everyone has fun.
9. Crockpots make dinner time easy
In my house, kids break down just when I’m heading into the kitchen to fix dinner. They scream into my legs. Toddlers wail into my shoulder. It’s almost impossible to cook.
Now I use a crockpot to make stews, chilies, and soups for dinner. Everyone enjoys the recipes, and I enjoy a peaceful afternoon. All I need to do is set the table with the preschooler’s help and we’re ready to eat.
No more tears. No more wailing into my shoulder. It’s peaceful.
10. Kids can help with the housework
Don’t do it all. There’s no need. Kids can help with the housework. Children can make their beds, sweep the floors, run toys upstairs, pick up, take out the trash, and fold laundry.
It’s also wonderful training for adult life. You won’t be sending a kid to college who doesn’t know how to run a washing machine. They’re comfortable with the machine since they’ve been using it for years. They’ll know how to cook, how to clean, and how to care for themselves.
Don’t be a martyr. Let the children help.
11. Have a system for tackling the housework
You need a system for tackling the housework otherwise you won’t know what to do when. When will you mop the floors? When will you clean the fridge?
What are your daily chores and what are your weekly ones? Will you do a spring and fall detailed cleaning, or will you do a little at a time throughout the year?
12. Combine activities
Having 6 children going every which way is chaotic. Instead, I’ve chosen to combine most activities for my younger children. We all go to park day together or have swimming lessons at the same time and place.
You can check into having activities happen on the same day in similar places and times. Find a working balance between too many activities and giving up meaningful activities.
Pursuing passions is meaningful. Signing up for everything under the sun is chaotic.
13. Simplify life
Be ready to say no as needed. Don’t create an involved cleaning schedule when homeschooling multiple ages. Don’t add tons of activities or hobbies to your day.
There will be a time when you can keep a spotless house and cook gourmet dinners every night. While you’re homeschooling a large family isn’t one of them.
Keep life simple enough to enjoy.
14. Keep the homeschool simple
At the same time, keep your homeschool simple. Don’t add the fanciest new curriculum. Don’t believe you have to read every good book under the sun.
Keep your subjects down to what you need to cover and combine children. Don’t try to do it all.
You’ll only make yourself and your children miserable.
15. Plan give time into your day and week
As a mom homeschooling a large family, it’s vital to have give time in my day and week. Time to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with a teen. Time to bake cookies with my preschoolers. And time to relax with my husband.
There are also many crises that happen in the life of a large family. There’s that exploding diaper, a toy stuck in the toilet, spilled coffee, and teenage heartbreak.
Plan give time into your day and week so you have time to deal with the many small emergencies of a large family.
16. Make time for yourself and your interests
It’s too easy to forget to spend time caring for yourself. Make time to exercise and eat healthily. Take the time to pursue your own interests.
You need to care for yourself just as much as you care for your family. Take time to maintain your favorite pursuits. It will keep you happy and sane over the years.
17. Do what works for your family
The most important tip of all is to do what works for your family. Each family is different. Each family is unique. No one tip or solution will work for everyone.
Experiment and try new ideas. Find out what works best for your family. What inspires you to get up in the morning and homeschool a large family.
When you find what works, put on blinders and ignore everyone else.