The Homeschool

Multiage Classroom

homeschool books

Many of us ask, "How in the world do I manage a homeschool multiage classroom?"

Initially, homeschooling large families seems impossible, but it's not. Here find specific tips and techniques for teaching children of different ages at the same time and in the same place. It is possible to give your best to each child--and enjoy it!

First and foremost though, get your thoughts in order. Just a few questions to initiate the process...Why homeschool? How old are the children? Their grades? Strengths and weaknesses? Basic beliefs?

Then set your heart and mind on one shining goal. It will be your beacon in good times and bad.

My single, fervent hope was to "do whatever is necessary to help each child become the best he can be...to become the person God made him to be."

Whatever your primary objective, be clear in your own mind.

Mull over the situation. Discuss ideas with your husband.

Several points to ponder:

  • Order is vital. The ideal is to establish order before you actually start the school year. Excuse me? Ideal? Of course, anytime is perfect to get your homeschool multiage classroom in working order.

  • Be realistic. Children are children, thank goodness! There are going to be blips everyday. Papers lost...sniffling noses...disobedience... balkiness ...a student who, no matter what you do, just doesn't catch on to a critical concept....

    "Be not afraid." Establishing order in your homeschool multiage classroom takes time. Some confusion is normal. Don't panic. Don't become discouraged. Tomorrow is another day.

  • Be persistent. Never, ever give up. Keep moving toward your goal. Some days you might think you only took a tiny step forward or it might even seem like you've fallen back, don't worry. Baby steps still get you there. Rethink. Then forge ahead.

  • Be flexible. Be open. Usually, there are several ways to accomplish the necessary.

    For example, four of our children battled through math. We tried different texts, videos, methods of learning (writing concepts on index cards, using a tape recorder, making drawings), etc. etc. etc. Our only solution was a tutor and lots of time and sweat invested in learning math.

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    Notes: Just because a subject might be a terrible struggle, doesn't mean it isn't mastered. All of our kiddos finished at least Algebra II. Because they planned to continue on to college, this level was set as the bare minimum.

    It's nice if one answer fills the requirements for all of the children. But we have to remember that God made each an individual. What works for one may not work for another. For simplicity and our convenience, we can try "one size fits all" but be aware of any pitfalls.

    It's our responsibility as parents to take care of each child.

    For example, stay with the same homeschool program for the whole family. But discuss with the director how to tailor each grade/subject to each little one.

    If necessary, change your method of teaching to accommodate each individual method of learning.

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  • Be vigilant. Is each child flourishing? Let your children guide you. Observe. Investigate. You have the graces from God to discern what each child needs. Together, you and your husband can work to satisfy their needs.

    A major facet of our home education was social.

    When we began homeschooling in 1986, there weren't many families teaching at home. We saw that our oldest seemed sad. At ten years old, she needed friends. This was a problem because of the small number of families home educating. But as soon as we understood the problem, set were determined to solve it..someway, somehow.

    Several holiday parties were organized (all had lots of fun--small numbers or not), invited other girls to our house (we discovered age differences mean less for homeschoolers) and enrolled our daughter in competitive swimming.

  • Be yourself. What does each of your children need? Read and consult with other homeschoolers. But please, please don't just blindly accept others' ideas. Work out what is best for your family.

    When our oldest boy was seven or eight, he showed an interest in baseball. We thought it important that he go ahead and join a serious but fun baseball team. One of our oldest friends--who also homeschooled--told us that "sports are from the devil."

    We were taken aback, to say the least. But we decided that, within reason and under watchful eyes, sports could really be beneficial, both for physical and character development. Do what is right for you and yours.

With prayer and planning, a homeschool multiage classroom can be a place of learning and joy for both Mom and students.

Dad's Vital Role

Discipline

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