Figuring out a schedule for teaching one child is difficult when beginning the homeschooling journey. When teaching multiple children, scheduling can seem like an impossible task. Many parents feel overwhelmed with the idea of teaching several children in different grades. As with any other aspect of life, once the job is tackled and a routine is set in place, it’s fairly easy.
The needs of the child
The first step is to look at each child’s needs. Typically, younger children will need more help and attention than older children. For individual studies, plan on working with the younger children early in the morning when they are awake and alert. Have the children sit in an area where the parent can easily access each child without a lot of running back and forth. This would be a good time to have the older children do independent study, work on projects together or complete chores.
When the younger children have completed their work or they are taking a break, work with the older children in any areas they are struggling with. This time could be scheduled snack or lunch breaks for the younger ones or they could be outside doing physical education. Having work stations or scheduling the day in blocks as if they are in work stations helps everyone get the attention they need without wearing the parent out.
Encourage children to work independently when possible. Choose curriculum that doesn’t require the teacher to teach everything step by step. It should get the students involved with directions that are simple enough for even young children to understand. Older children especially need to learn to work without a lot of help from a teacher to prepare them for college or the work force.
Subjects such as social studies and science can incorporate children of all ages. These do not necessarily need to be separate based on age. Unit studies are a great way to work with multiple children and grades because they are all learning the same topics. Certain topics will need to be broken down for lower grades or older children can expand on curriculum geared towards those in the middle. For this type of learning, everyone gathers around and listens to the lesson. Then, the parent explains things further as needed. After the lesson the children break into groups or work individually to complete any work that goes with the lesson. They may take turns answering questions to see what they understood. In a short period of time, a subject is covered for everyone at the same time.
When older children have completed their work, they can help teach the younger children. This utilizes more help so that the parent isn’t having to do it all while helping the children learn to work together as a team. When a team works together every member is able to learn something from each other, making this beneficial to everyone. Learning to work as a team is an important skill for proper socialization, preparing the students for life after school.
Involve the children in the workings of the home. They can help with meal preparation or with watching the babies or toddlers in the family while the parents are busy. These skills can be incorporated into schoolwork as science, social studies, math and home economics. Getting everyone to act as members of the family keeps the pressure off of the parents to do everything. This allows the teaching parent to focus on the schoolwork and teaching methods necessary to encourage a solid education. Instilling a schedule and delegating responsibilities helps the day to quicker, giving each person more time to explore the world outside of academics.
Trying to complete all subjects every day may be overwhelming to everyone. Covering the main subjects such as math, language arts, social studies and science, along with art, music, physical education and any other makes for very long days. It is possible that some things will be lacking or the entire day will be consumed. Stagger the subjects throughout the week. Math could be completed two times a week while language arts covers three days a week. All of the other subjects could be worked in between. The children could take turns deciding when each subject will be done, allowing them to have some control over the scheduling. This can help them learn problem solving as they learn from trial and error what days work best for each subject. As long as the topics are being covered there’s no wrong way to schedule the days.
Scheduling schoolwork for multiple children in the home doesn’t have to be scary. Figuring out the individual needs of each child while determining which subjects to cover will help the school day run smoothly. Allow for flexibility while always having a plan. Children need boundaries of a schedule without the schedule squashing the learning process.