How To Simplify Your Large Family Homeschool Lessons
These are some of my favourite homeschool resources that will help you simplify your day by combining your kid’s lessons together. Teaching multiple ages at once enriches the lessons and saves so much time.
Yesterday, we talked about ideas for simplifying when you're homeschooling a large family. Some of these ideas were planning, working towards independence and cutting out the busy work and simplifying your lessons.
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I believe one of the best ways we can simplify our homeschool teaching is to use the same curriculum for your whole family. My favourite homeschool curriculums are ones designed to be used with a large range of children’s ages. Yes, each child will need a math program on their own level. Hopefully, you can stick with one program so you're familiar with it as each child moves through it.
There will be times when some of your children will need a different curriculum than most of the family and that’s ok. Maybe it’s a special program for dyslexia or their unique learning style. Most of the time it really is easy to teach a range of ages with the same materials.
One of my favourite programs is Five in a Row. Five in a Row has 4 different programs each with a suggested age range. Don’t let the age suggested on the cover stop you from using it in your own way! An example, the original program Five in a Row is intended for ages 4 to 8 and covers 4 volumes. I know many families that use this program with children ages 10, 11 and 12! Why? Because there's so much meat in this program.
Since it’s a unit study guide and not a collection of worksheets it is so very easy to adapt to a wide range of ages. For older children you can add a book or two on the history or science topic that’s been taught in that unit. Have them write a longer written narration or report on the topic.
For more ideas Five in a Row has a great blog post on the subject. Steve Lambert has a wonderful set of audios, one of which is “I Can’t Teach All the Grades at Once”. I bought this audio set years ago and it was such a blessing. Steve gives so many great tips in this audio including demonstrating how you could use a simple children's book to teach from kindergarten all the way up to college! While you wouldn’t likely want to use children’s books at a college level they can be a great way to start teaching a literary concept to older child.
Another way to teach multiple ages at once is simply using living books. Read REAL books to your children. Classics, historical fiction, living history and science books. These appeal to a large range of ages. Simply have your children give oral narrations (younger children), written narrations (older children), and use the topics in the chapter/book to lead your lessons.
Ambleside Online is an amazing Charlotte Mason program. Yes, it’s designed to be used with each child in their own grade level it is so easy to combine multiple grades together. Even the younger years are filled with rich literature that upper elementary age children will enjoy.
Are you reading Charles Dickens a Christmas Carol? Study the conditions in England at the time the book was written. Learn about workhouses, orphans, child labour, and Christmas traditions. There are endless topics you can pull from great literature!
If you use the same base ( either book or subject) and extend your expectations for children who are older or working at a higher level it really makes things so much simpler.
Remember that curriculum is your TOOL, use it but don’t be a slave to it!
Do you combine your children for lessons? What are your favourite curriculums for teaching a range of ages?