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Large family homeschooling is challenging.
Little kids need time and attention. Teenagers need time and attention. Everyone wants a piece of mom.
So how are you to give your kids a quality education when there isn’t enough of you to go around?
1. Combine Children when Homeschooling Your Large Family
Combine the kids as much as possible, even if they’re working independently.
Last year I had two high school students. As you know, high school kids work independently. But I still chose to combine them into the same science textbook.
If I had them both studying different sciences, that would mean I’d have two textbooks to keep up with. Two different sets of supplies for experiments, and two different sciences to schedule.
It’s far easier to keep the kids in the same textbook.
This way I only needed to stay on top of one high school science program. I only needed one set of supplies for experiments. And I was able to send the kids into the kitchen to complete their science experiments together.
The kids were even able to help each other through different concepts.
And it’s even more important to combine younger kids who aren’t ready to work independently.
I always combine my youngest kids.
However, I only combine content subjects.
This means I combine my K-6th graders together in science. We’ll read Story of the World as a family. And art projects are perfect for rainy afternoon activities.
Skill subjects such as phonics, math, spelling, grammar, and Latin are studied individually.
2. Teach Kids to Work Independently
Teach your kids to work independently as soon as possible.
Believe me, this will save your sanity when you’re homeschooling lots of kids!
For me, this usually means sometime during 2nd grade I began to encourage my kids to complete a worksheet while I run downstairs to move laundry. Or I assign a spelling worksheet and wash dishes while my child completes it.
A 2nd grader is not old enough to complete an assignment in a room by themselves. But they no longer need me hanging on their every move, unlike my little kindergarteners and first graders.
Gradually I’ll leave to room for a few minutes or even have them working next to me while I tutor a sibling.
Be careful. Some kids are diligent about completing their work. Other kids are easily distracted.
Stay on top of your kids’ independent work, even in high school. Otherwise one day you’ll wake up to discover your kid is a semester behind in a class. It’s a lousy wake-up call!
That’s not to say I check my high school teens’ work every few minutes. Rather once or twice a week we sit down to discuss their studies.
Teach the kids to work independently. It will save your sanity!
3. Schedule Sibling Time
The best part about homeschooling 3 or more kids is being able to schedule sibling time into the day.
I’ve homeschooled 4 kids for the last decade. Sibling time has meant that two kids are off playing with each other while another is completing independent work and I’m working with the fourth.
Or when I had toddlers, the older kids rotated through playing with the toddlers while their siblings completed independent work or sat down with me for tutoring.
The kids enjoy having a break in the middle of the day. I love knowing my toddlers aren’t tearing the bathroom apart while I homeschool.
Or if you don’t have toddlers, sibling time is also a time for kids to play together and cement their relationships.
Schedule time for your kids to play during the homeschool day. It makes homeschooling your large family much easier!
4. Office Hours for High School
High school teens no longer need me to tutor them through their lessons. In fact, they prefer to be completely independent. But they still need time to come and have tests graded.
To ask me questions.
So after lunch, I have office hours.
The little kids have quiet time for reading, quiet play, or audiobooks around the house.
I sit at my desk and complete work that’s easily interrupted. Work I don’t need intense concentration to complete. I’ll make menu plans, shopping lists, fuss with a schedule, or send an email to my family.
The high school teens have time to finish their work for the day and ask me any questions they may have.
Some days they have a lot of questions. Other days, not so much.
But office hours help me stay on top of what my high school teens studies.
5. Keep Your Homeschool Simple
There is no need to complicate your life with a complex curriculum or tons of busywork.
Keep your homeschool simple, short, and sweet. And concentrate on the essentials.
See one of the problems we have is it’s tempting to keep adding more and more to our day. We need to keep up with the Joneses. We aim for the moon.
Keep in mind that aiming for the moon and trying to keep up with the Joneses causes our homeschools to collapse. We can’t keep up the pace. We’re overwhelmed and begin to skip our studies. The homeschool staggers to a halt.
But consistency is what defines a successful homeschool.
If you’re consistent, your children will learn. Slowly perhaps, but they will learn.
A complicated homeschool is hard to stay on top of. And the more children you have, the more complicated your homeschool is naturally. so why make life difficult for yourself?
Don’t try to keep with the Joneses. Don’t aim for the moon.
Keep your homeschool simple and concentrate on consistency.
6. Plan Time for Daily Crisis
Are you allowing enough time for the daily crisis of large family homeschooling?
Babies will have diaper explosions that need to be changed. The toddler will flush a toy down the toilet. Your preschooler will sob because the blocks keep falling down.
As you schedule your homeschool, plan time in your day for the daily crisis of life. The diaper explosions, the tears, and the heartache.
You’ll be more relaxed with a buffer in your day and life will flow more smoothly.
So give yourself the gift of time.
Make certain you have margin scheduled into your day.
7. Relax and Trust God
After homeschooling three kids through high school graduation, I’ve been amazed at how it’s all worked out. We may not have achieved everything I hoped for, but we did accomplish most of it.
The kids have done well.
And on days that you believe you are completely failing your kids.
Keep up the good fight.
It all works out in the end.
Large family homeschooling may be challenging, but it’s also the most rewarding task you’ll ever set for yourself. Seeing your kids’ relationships blossom. Seeing kids grow, change, and mature.
Use these tips to streamline your homeschool and enjoy homeschooling your large family!