I often get asked about how to homeschool with multiple children of various ages. Which honestly is hard for me to answer. That’s because I am a mom to one child. We homeschool our only child, thus, I don’t have the experience to guide in homeschooling multiple children.
That’s why I’ve invited my blogging friend Destiny from Some Call it Destiny to share what it’s like homeschooling multiple children. She is mom to 7 kids. She graduated her oldest last year and the youngest isn’t yet school aged.
Which means she is currently homeschooling five and has experienced home education all the way through graduation. The rest of this article has been written by her as she shares her homeschooling experience with you.
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Homeschooling Multiple Children of Different Ages
With a repurposed kitchen table and chairs, walls lined with overflowing bookcases, and a professional laser printer tucked into the corner, our loft transforms into our one-room schoolhouse. At any given moment you will find children in various stages of learning or play. Sounds of laughter, squabbling, and clacking keyboard keys waft throughout the house as we go about our homeschool day.
Homeschooling multiple ages comes with a unique set of blessings and challenges. Some days homeschooling multiple children runs like a well-oiled machine, smoothly and without a hitch. Other days, I feel like all the gears are broken and frustratingly throw in the towel. Most days, though, fall somewhere in between-a few hiccups, maybe a glitch, but mostly a smooth ride.
What are you getting yourself into when you agree to take on the education of all your children? Let’s begin by looking at some of the blessings you’ll reap.
The Top 3 Advantages of Homeschooling Multiple Ages
1. Fostering Close Sibling Relationships
Every Christmas, our children draw “secret sibling” names. They are each responsible for one sibling to shop for, with a modest budget provided by us. This past Christmas, we decided on a white elephant theme and sent kids with five dollars each to a thrift store.
When it was my three-year-olds turn to shop for her 16-year-old sister my husband was prepared with ideas to help her. However, she had ideas of her own! She had my husband meticulously open every candle for her to smell, so she could pick out the scent she knew her sister would like best. She knew of her sister’s fondness for scented candles because of the time they had spent together and the many times she detoured with her to smell all the candles in a store. Her gift was spot on with no help from us.
Homeschooling all my children allows them to create strong bonds with all their siblings, not just those they are closest in age with. And for those who are close in age, those often become their strongest friendships.
This was not always the case for us, but homeschooling multiple ages has provided us with the opportunity to focus on relationships and sibling bonds.
2. Multi-Level Learning
Have you heard the saying children learn through osmosis? When you are homeschooling more than one child, children will naturally absorb information other siblings are learning.
When my oldest son was four, I pulled him aside and thought to begin teaching him how to read. Much like I had my other children at that age. Since he already knew his letter sounds (although I hadn’t directly taught them) I thought we’d work on digraphs. Imagine my surprise when he started reading the instructions! Without my realizing it, he had taught himself to read by paying attention to lessons with siblings.
Whether or not a child is being taught directly, if a sibling is learning about it, they will gain some knowledge simply by being present.
Multi-level learning gives greater exposure to a variety of topics, serves as a refresher for older siblings, and increases interest in siblings who are eager for their turn with the subject matter.
While my son was the only one who taught himself to read, all of my children have benefitted by pre-exposure to subjects making it easier for them to learn when their time came.
3. A Built-In Audience
When you have more than one kid, you give your children a built in playmate. This is true for most families regardless of homeschool status. But, when you homeschool, additional siblings take on another role.
When reciting memorization passages, giving presentations, or performing a recital piece, students not only have practice in front of a sibling audience, but they get to learn how to be a good audience member.
In the comfort and support of their own home, children are able to practice good public speaking and performance skills, gaining confidence for a larger audience.
Likewise, it’s much easier to teach proper audience etiquette when there are not other moms giving you the side-eye because your child has noodled out of their chair or started loudly complaining when their child is up.
The Top 3 Disadvantages of Homeschooling Multiple Ages
There is a flip side to every coin. For all of the advantages that come with homeschooling children of different ages, there are also some disadvantages.
1. Say Goodbye to Alone Time
I had no sooner stepped into the bathroom when there was a knock on the door and a child shouting at me from the other side. She was stuck on a math problem and could I please just explain it to her. From under the door, she shoved a pencil and paper. I look forward to the day when I get to use the bathroom uninterrupted.
Homeschooling multiple children makes it near impossible to find time alone to recharge or pursue your own interests. There is always another child who needs your time and attention. And no matter how much you love your family, being together all day, every day can begin to take its toll.
Some moms combat this by waking up before their children and using that time to read their scriptures, exercise, or just have a few moments when no one is tugging on their shirt sleeve.
For me, weekly date nights with my husband became mandatory. This is our time to reconnect as a couple and for me to interact with only adults.
2. Feeling Stretched Too Thin
If you’ve ever considered assigning a working-model cloning machine as a science project, you may homeschool multiple ages.
When you’re teaching your second grader a math lesson, answering questions about where the lab supplies are for your junior high student, retrieving a lost password for your fifth grader, and answering a random question from your high schooler all while your preschooler sings her ABC’s at the top of her lungs and your toddler tugs at your shirt, you may feel like there’s not enough of you to go around.
Nevermind the sink full of dishes, an overdue trip to the grocery store, and multiple dentist appointments.
Juggling teacher, mom, and wife can leave you wishing for that scientific cloning breakthrough.
3. Never-Ending School Hours
There’s nothing like being woken up at the crack of dawn by a child whose arms are overflowing with science supplies letting you know they’re ready to start their lab. While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I also like being able to open my eyes before being required to jump into schoolwork.
And of course, there are times when one or more children take hours upon hours to do a fifteen-minute assignment. There are days I’m sure they have collaborated so as soon as I get one through their defiant stance on grammar, another becomes belligerent about math. These are the days which seem to last eons.
And let’s not forget when life happens and I’m still helping my high schooler with school work at 9pm.
When homeschool days begin at sun up and last long after sundown, they can feel never-ending.
Back-to-back days like these can leave you questioning how you are ever supposed to homeschool multiple ages without losing your sanity.
Homeschooling Multiple Ages is About the Moments
Bad days will happen. Children will want to play instead of work. Someone will breathe somebody else’s air.
But there will be moments. Moments when you see the fruit of your labor blossoming forth. And those moments, they are the sweetest.
Siblings hunched over a book giggling together.
Older siblings helping younger ones with a lesson.
Kid’s all working together to plan a special surprise for you.
The moments are where you find the joy.
Homeschooling multiple children means our days are always busy and our house is constantly loud, but it is also full of learning and overflowing with love.
Are you currently homeschooling multiple ages? Or, are you considering beginning the journey of whole family home education? Share your experiences in a comment.
Learn more about how to homeschool…
- Notebooking for Homeschool
- Simple Tips To Get Started Homeschooling
- Best Resources for Free Homeschool Unit Studies
- Build a Homeschool Portfolio for Assessment