Do you have, like, a lot of kids? Are you trying to figure out how you can possibly homeschool all of them at once? Don’t panic, here are some helpful ideas to keep the peace in your home and the fun in your kids’ education.
I am in my sixth year of homeschooling and one of the most frustrating things about my homeschool journey has been not understanding how people do it. When I started teaching my first daughter it was so incredibly fun. Adding my second was even better because I got to build on what I learned with my first. But when my third daughter came along, having a baby in the house threw all my homeschool plans and organization into the wind. I couldn’t get my feet under me.
Part of the problem was that I was still trying to find out what worked for my own personality and teaching style and my kids’ learning styles. I never stuck with the same curriculum twice. Each kid – each subject – was an experiment to see what worked and just when I thought I had it figured out, the baby made it impossible to be structured enough to make my plans really work. You can do all sorts of fancy curriculum and advanced projects if you have one or two kids. But now that I’ve got a FOURTH in our home, I’m learning a lot about what to put my time to.
If you’ve got more than, say, two kids you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. The youngest ones have short attention spans and the need to be with Momma constantly. You may be having to toss your ideas of spending quality in-depth times with your oldest ones because your little ones simply don’t nap long enough to help your older kids out as much as you really want to.
This is why most larger families have such an emphasis on independent study and learning. That’s a good thing – your kids will learn to be self directed and build skills doing so that will benefit them for their entire lives. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up all one-on-one teaching time with your kids.
Here are a few ideas for managing your larger homeschool while keeping the fun – and being there for your kids as much as your heart really desires to.
Breakfast Table Time Your kids can learn to do some type of work while at the breakfast table. Baby is usually sleeping in or strapped in a high chair playing with bits of food. Young kids can color (training them for later) while older kids can work on quiet time materials, reading, spelling, whatever you choose. This gives you time to help your older kids while your younger ones are occupied.
Stations One of my personal favorite “homeschool hacks” – we set up different stations around the house based on subject. Math and box work is done at the table, separated by a tri-fold project board. Writing is done at a desk in the living room. Typing and spelling is done in one of the kids rooms at their desk. The kids rotate stations so that only one or two of them at a time are doing a subject that often requires mom’s help. Typing, art, and box work are often easier subjects that rarely need moms help. This allows me to go to whichever station I’m needed at.
Early Risers & Night Owls If you have a child that gets up earlier than the others or one that likes to stay up late, it’s perfectly fine to allow them to do schoolwork during those times when their siblings aren’t up. They can work on easier subjects, or get a jump on work that they are behind on or struggle with. These are great times to get extra help from Mom or Dad.
Stay Up Nights When my 4th baby was born we all felt like we were missing that one-on-one time with each other. So we invented stay up nights. My 3 girls each rotate nights to stay up a half hour late with mom. While we usually don’t do schoolwork during this time, it does give us time to connect and discuss the day and how they are feeling.
Saturday Work Is OK While I don’t particularly like doing schoolwork on Saturdays, it turns out it’s a great way to do arts and crafts or science experiments and such that we didn’t get to during the week. It also helps tremendously to have some structured fun activities for the kids to do on the weekend. Often I’ll have extra help with the hubby home so between the two of us we can help the kids with their projects.
Read Alouds During Laundry Time I’ve recently started reading to my kids while they sort and fold the laundry – it’s a great way to multitask and keep everyone focused. Lots of kids means lots of laundry and I don’t seem to have enough time to read to them without pairing it with something productive. Babies or toddlers can play with toys during this time or nap.
Intentional Nap Time While I still don’t follow a routine like I want to, I do always come up with a plan for nap time when I wake up. That golden hour or so when the baby sleeps is my time to do whatever subject or project that would be very challenging with the baby around. Never squander a nap time!
Wearing The Baby I am a baby wearer – but not like most moms. I prefer a backpack or back carrier for my baby. At 13 months old he still does great in the hiking backpack I have for him. On days when he’s being really difficult I can strap him on and go about my chores and helping my kids with their schoolwork.
Kid Swapping – Playing Babysitter This is a great way to get some focused time with each kid. Appoint a kid or two to be the official babysitter and watch the baby or toddler while you help one of your kids. Then swap and help the others. This works great when you have a child who really needs some undivided attention.
Mandatory Outside Playtime Often after lunch I will kick all the kids out to go play outside while I reset our day. The kids watch the baby for a bit – he LOVES being outside – and I can clean up after lunch and the morning’s work and take a moment to adjust our afternoon plans and my attitude while I’m at it. This also gives you the chance to call in a kid to help them with any schoolwork they struggled with that day.
I hope these ideas have helped you think of creative ways to manage your larger homeschool family. What other tips can you share for homeschooling a bunch of kids?
Want help planning all your kids lessons in a peaceful and simple way? Check out my PK1 Super Simple Homeschool Lesson Planner