While it may seem like a mammoth task to homeschool more than one child, of different ages, interests, and therefore curricula, it can be incredibly easy. When all siblings are homeschooled at the same time, not only do they get a similar classroom environment at home like traditional schooling, but it also makes up for quality family time. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of brick and mortar schools can come from working together with classmates, and with more than one child studying together, homeschooling provides the complete educational package with all benefits and none of the disadvantages of traditional schooling. A few tips and tricks can make the homeschooling process much smoother and fulfilling for both the parents and children.
Unit Studies can be Greatly Helpful
This is a no-brainer when it comes to homeschooling different aged kids. Unit Studies is a method of learning where several different books and course works, spanning different ages and classes, are focused on the same subject. This will be especially helpful if all your kids are studying a similar subject. Through Unit Studies they will all get the information based on their own age group but they will be able to discuss amongst themselves, carry our hands-on activities, and understand the concepts much more efficiently.
Staying Organized is the Key
With a single child being homeschooled, there might be some room for unscheduled breaks or holidays. But with more than one child, abrupt changes in study timetable or even coursework can spiral out of control. While homeschooling different aged kids, parents will need to maintain a rigid study schedule and stay organized with the coursework, extra-curricular activities as well as play times. This is not as difficult as it may sound. This schedule should be made while deciding the coursework for homeschooling different children, depending on their learning behaviors and inclinations to different subjects. Once that is decided, maintaining a routine would be pretty easy.
Keep the Same Study Time for all Kids
Just as was mentioned at the beginning of this article, with more than one child studying at the same time, homeschooling will also channel the benefits of traditional schooling. Moreover, when children see their siblings also studying instead of sleeping or playing outside, they have naturally high motivation and interest in finishing their own work. An additional benefit of having the same study schedule would be that children will be able to share ideas, indulge into academic discussions, and even help each other with their studies. For parents too, it will be easier to pay attention to children and maintain the routine.
Extend More Autonomy and Include Technology
When there are different aged kids studying together, there will be an obvious difference in their levels of understanding and expertise of different subjects. There will also be a higher sense of accountability, especially with regards to technology. By providing the children with more independence, for example letting them finish their entire assignments instead of checking after every question, they will learn more responsibility as well as cooperation among each other. By allowing them to use computers, tablets or other technological equipment that may aid their study, they will also learn self-reliance; while they will also keep a check on each other that the technology is not being used for play purposes.
Encourage Debate and Reading-aloud
With different aged kids being homeschooled, you have a ready-made classroom. By encouraging children to debate with each other on educational topics you will promote their argumentation skills as well as increase their knowledge. Likewise, by asking them to read out loud from their books will build their confidence and develop public speaking skills. Keeping a little time at the end of every study session for questions and answers amidst the children will make them pay more attention to their coursework for the day and will also be a fruitful exercise in terms of family bonding.
Include Lots of Hands-on Activities
With more than one child being homeschooled, you have easier access to carry out practical experiments such as chemistry or physics demonstrations or making graphs and charts for geography. Children will not only enjoy these activities together as a form of play, but will also learn from each other’s coursework. Secondly, with more than one student involved in hands-on activities, there is less pressure on the parent to perform all steps of the experiments themselves. Children get to play a bigger role in these activities and therefore learn more, and enjoy more as well.
Do Keep One-On-One Time as Well
Finally, while you should encourage team work, discussions and debate, and joint hands-on activities, do keep some one-on-one time for every child. Homeschooling has the advantage of every child getting the individual and necessary attention they require to excel in their studies and all the benefits of joint study should not overshadow that.