When you are a mom of several children you often get asked the old familiar question --
"How do you homeschool them all?"
In fact, I was just asked this yesterday! So today I wanted to share some tips of how we run things around here with nine children. It has changed so much when I first started out, and I am so grateful that the Lord slowly but surely guided us through it all.
In the beginning I tried several methods, some that worked and some that failed- but eventually with a lot of prayer- I ended up with some tried and true approaches that really helped out a lot!
Here are some tips that have helped me over time:
1. Keep the stress level down low--I have learned over time that keeping the stress level low in our homeschool was a very, very good thing! I noticed I would get overly stressed when I tried to plan too much into my day, was gone from home too much, would plan a craft or project that was too intense/complicated for everyone or lasted too long, or even if I was trying to make them complete an excessive amount of work that didn't really need to be done.
2. Independent learning and group learning - There can be much said for independent learning, when older children are able to work through books and assignments on their own (with some parental oversight) it prepares them and gives them life skills for life learning and even college. We have taught our children to be independent learners when we see that they are ready for it. As for group learning--when we see there is a group of younger children about the same age, we might go through the same books like history so they can learn it all at the same time.
3. Older children help the younger - There are times that I allow an older child to help a younger with a math problem, give a spelling test, listen to another practicing reading a book out loud, and the like. Oftentimes they will willingly volunteer to do this because they have get a sense of satisfaction teaching others what they have already learned (and it makes for great review). Not only is this helpful but it gives them a chance to review what they already know, teaches them patience, and a heart of servanthood. If you have really young children, an older child can have "playtime" scheduled into their day as they go play or read to them in another room. This encourages sibling relationships and who wouldn't like a break in their school day?
4. Take a second look at how you plan - I used to plan my homeschool schedule out in detail but with several children that can get old pretty fast. I used to dread doing it and felt like a failure if I couldn't keep up. Then one day I read an article by a veteran homeschooling mom who didn't use lesson plans but already knew how many pages needed to be completed in a day because she used the same curriculum every year. Since the core of our homeschool was like hers I began to do that too and it worked like a charm. I still plan a very quick overview of the week but now it is fast & easy and no where as overwhelming.
5. Have things to occupy the small children - Busy bags, special crafts, their own workbooks, stickers, stamps, etc. anything that will keep them distracted. A quick Google search on this topic will yield many results!
6. Think twice before you teach that lesson - Did you know that you don't have to do every problem in a book? Not only does that waste time but many times homeschool curriculum might be made for a classroom situation . Once I stopped myself from feeling guilty if I didn't, I was free to follow my own judgment. Did my children already understand his math lesson for the day? Did he have to do 30 problems to make sure he understood it? No. Cutting down on busy work helped immensely and saves time when you are teaching a crowd. This also goes for teachers guides, remember you don't have to do everything they suggest.
7. Be flexible - Having a large family can get crazy sometimes so an attitude of flexibility is so important! The baby will cry, the children might be having a bad day (you might be too), and the house could be falling apart so sometimes you just need to know when to call it a day! Some moms will call a reading day or throw in some educational videos on a topic they are covering. There are many other fun ways to learn and more than one way to skin a cat!
8. Some people teach their multiple children using unit studies--but several find it is hard to plan them out and end up not always being to plan them efficiently. I only use unit studies on occasion, planning them out once or twice a year if we want to do them. We mostly stick with a traditional approach because I feel it requires less planning for all the children we have and we don't use workbooks as much as you would think that we do. We also utilize online courses to help us as well--we absolutely love Teaching Textbooks for math!
9. Train your children--One of the biggest complaints I hear about homeschooling is that moms are having trouble homeschooling because their children are not listening to them (many times they get discouraged and even send them back to public school). But we need to look at this as a wonderful opportunity to resolve this issue! With homeschooling, parents can take the time to train their children so that the children are a blessing and bring peace in the home and not chaos. This is our first responsibility as parents--so put the books aside and get working on teaching obedience to your children and character.
10. Pray to the Lord to help you with your family--Every family is unique and what might work for one might not work for the other. Seek His guidance and He will help you!
Well this is all for now, but I will write a second post in the near future and break it down into more details. I hope these tips will help you in your homeschooling journey!
And if you are looking for more ways to get great a deal on homeschool curriculum (and as homeschooling moms, aren't we always on the lookout?) don't forget that The Mega Homeschool Build Your Bundle Sale 2016 is happening this week! I shared all the details yesterday but if you prefer you can just visit the site to view all the goodies! Some bundles start at just $10 and you can't beat that.
They even have a BUY TWO GET ONE FREE option!
You can find this deal HERE.
Don't forget there are only a few days left, so don't miss it!