How do you homeschool with kids of different ages?
One question that I’ve been asked pretty regularly is “how do you homeschool with kids of such different ages?” My first response lately has often been, just imagine taking your three favorite students out of a class of 25. They have different needs and abilities, but so do the kids in a traditional classroom setting. I get to work every day with the kids that I most enjoy being with on the planet! Figuring out what works for them is relatively easy since I know what they are capable of (for the most part)! That’s not to say that some times are frustrating when things don’t go as I had planned, but then that happens in the classroom too so I try (TRY TRY) to cut myself some slack. (Don’t always succeed at that do I hubby??)
Someone on one of the forums I’m on asked this as well and I thought I’d post here what I wrote to her:
My kids are just slightly older than yours — 6yrs, 4yrs and 22 months. My 22mo old is in the process of giving up naps completely!!! Gulp!!
What I’ve found in the past year is that I need to take things 2 months or so at a time, then my youngest will have changed considerably and I need to reassess how things are working. This past semester she had one nap in the afternoons.
For quite a long time, we (all 4 of us) did activities together in the mornings — lots of free play, nature hikes/time outbush, trips around town (to the reptile centre, our local natural history museum, or whatever), playground time, kindergym, kindermusik and things like that [I made it a hard and fast rule that there was no TV in the mornings.] I should add that two mornings a week were, in general, devoted primarily to homeschool projects (like lapbook projects, science experiments, unit studies, etc.) rather than activities like I mentioned above. Often we’d get carried away and would spend most of the day on our projects (like when LD finished up lapbooks or when was really wrapped up in the natural disaster activities). On those days DD was great at keeping ED occupied.
Then after my youngest was asleep in the afternoons I’d work with my older two kids. My middle daughter pretty much always plays math games and does math activities with us (me and older son); she’s always enjoyed math time.
I work on reading/phonics type skills with my two older ones separately since they’re in such different places. Once my son was confident enough in reading (reading at say a 2nd/3rd grade level) I had him do “independent reading” sometime during the day in addition to reading aloud to me and our read aloud time (where I read stories/chapter books). That was one of the few things I could have him do on his own. As the semester wore on, I could occasionally have him practice piano for a few minutes on his own as well, though not at first.
I found that I had to give up our traditional read aloud time for a while (we used to all snuggle on the couch) because my youngest was just TOO rambunctious. Instead I started reading to them at the table while they were eating. This has it’s drawbacks, of course, but it worked well for a stretch of time. It’s only now (as in, the past couple of weeks with the youngest 22 months old) that I’m able to have “reading time” which for us is after lunch/before quiet time (all 3 kids have time to themselves and play quietly in their rooms for 45 minutes to an hour or so).
For the most part, I try to be as hands-on as possible (we do practically no worksheet kinds of things and instead do lots of activities/hands on things/crafts/experiments). I’ve found that adding in Montessori type activities is appealing to all of the kids. My eldest will even have a go at different sorting/pouring things. My eldest really love the (Montessori inspired) geography activities and we’ve had great success with various Montessori cards (natural disasters, flowers, and habitats, just to name a few).
Oh and treasure hunts are a huge hit here — we use them for ALL kinds of activities (math, reading, etc.) Jumping activities (jump on the addition problem, jump on the letter or whatever) is terrific and I can easily make them suitable for all three kids (jump on the frog, for example, for the youngest). As long as she’s involved, she doesn’t “interfere” if you know what I mean.
Hope these give you a few ideas. Probably nothing I’ve been posting lately will be of help as we’ve been on holiday and I’ve been filling in family/friends on that, but you can check out July through October for a glimpse at the kinds of things we were up to earlier this year.