The most common question I am asked when I tell people that I homeschool is “How do you manage to teach so many grade levels?” For many homeschool families, this is the most difficult part of home education.
If you are struggling to teach multiple grade levels, you are not alone. Homeschooling families vary in size and usually have children in multiple grade levels, sometimes ranging from infant to high school. Trying to keep up with teaching multiple children can be daunting, to say the least.
If you can relate, don’t lose heart — you can peacefully and successfully teach multiple grade levels!
There are many different approaches one can take to homeschooling multiple grade levels. Here are just a few strategies you might try to implement in your homeschool.
Schedule a block of time with each child
While you work with one child the others can do independent work, one child can read aloud to siblings or older siblings can buddy up and spend that block of time working with younger siblings.
Science, social studies, history, art, literature and geography can easily be combined and taught to all of your children at the same time. You can read aloud as a family using text books or living books and give the older children age-related supplemental activities, worksheets or independent reading on the subject. My Father’s World curriculum shares a perfect example of a multi-age family learning cycle.
Use unit studies
Unit studies work well with all ages and allow you to teach children the same subject tailored by grade level. While younger children might tell a story through art or play-dough, older children might write a report or take part in a more advance science experiment. You can take some time to create your own unit study or purchase ready-made unit studies by subject.
Try computer-based learning
Older children can easily work independently through computer-based or online learning with curriculum such as Switched On Schoolhouse, Time 4 Learning, A+ Interactive Math, IXL and Teaching Textbooks. There is also the option of video learning through a virtual school such as Abeka.
Set up a Workbox System
The Workbox System is a system created by Sue Patrick that can be customized to your family’s individual needs. Children are assigned a drawer or set of drawers, cubes or folders for their subjects and daily assignments. I use one drawer for books and one drawer for the day’s workbook assignments for each child, and each day the boys go to their drawer to get their assignments and books and start their lessons for the day. Sue Patrick’s goal in creating the Workbox System was to reduce organizational time and increase the child’s self-control, independence and learning. This is the perfect solution for large homeschool families.
Use daily life experiences as teaching opportunities
The greatest lessons are those that build and strengthen relationships within the family, and these lessons will be found in everyday life experiences. Cook a meal together for math, building a new fence with dad, or grow a garden as a family.
There will still be days when homeschooling multiple grade levels and personalities feels overwhelming and chaotic but with a bit of planning, a working system in place and much determination you can homeschool multiple children and still keep your sanity.