When teaching multiple children at home many mistakes can be made by the most well-meaning parent. One of the failures of good homeschooling is that the parent many times tries to re-create a government school atmosphere in their home. With multiple children this is nearly impossible as each will be working at different levels on different projects. What happens many times is as follows:
A rigid schedule is made.
Classes are laid out in a particular fashion to mimic the government school.
Breaks are monitored to the minute, as well as lunch.
This is a recipe for disaster, as it not only forces the child into a tight schedule, but puts the parent under the same schedule as well. One of the great blessings of homeschooling is the fact of flexibility.
First determine where each child is at in their academic abilities. This may be done through simple observation at reading skills, math work, and social understanding. Then adjust the work load for each child so that seat work can be done while helping other children. Many parents will help a child that is struggling in a particular area while other children are working at seat work, drawing, or doing a chore somewhere else in the home. This allows uninterrupted time with the child needing help. It is critical to remember, the government does not set the standard for the level you hope to achieve for your child. Rather, you the parent determines what is best for your child, and thus you are not placed under a false notion of expectations for each individual child in the home. Many parents homeschool multiple children and have one or more handicapped children in the home demanding more time than would normally be given to any one child. The families find success by insuring the other children are instructed in their duties when the parent is engaged with the aid of another child. Audio or video supplements can be used for children who are not actively engaged in seat work, or needing help. Various curriculums provide both audio and video formats as well as computer programs that can aid parents working with children at various stages of development. Even if you had twins, it does not mean that each one will work at the same level. Therefore, the flexibility you exercise will determine the stress level you place yourself under. Setting achievable goals for each child not only gives the child excitement to move on to the next level, but will provide you with an idea of how they are progressing. It may be that the particular curriculum you have chosen has preset goals and expectations for each day, and if they work that is fine. But you may determine that half the expected goal is better for your child. Each one will work at a different pace.
In the end, when multiple children are being schooled, older children need to be trained to aid the parent in helping with the younger. The days of the one-room school house are back. It is now our own homes, and we should consider the successful techniques used by teachers of old, that found a way to integrate multiple children, multiple ages, and multiple learning levels and produce successful students.