Homeschooling Stuff

All the Ages at Once! How Do You Do It?


So, you’ve thought about homeschooling.  Or maybe you’re in the midst of it with child #1, and you can foresee that down the road, somewhere/somehow, child #2’s education is going to get added to your load.  Just how do we homeschooling moms teach everyone, all at once?  It’s a question that I get asked often!  You’re not alone.

It wasn’t too long ago that an American education meant children of all ages gathering into one school building to be taught, all at once.  One teacher, many children.  And he/she was paid by the parents!  Think “Little House on the Prairie” and “Anne of Green Gables”. And it worked!

But how?  There are several strategies that we can use!

  1.  Subjects with a broad age range- History, science, languages, art, music, reading out-loud.  These are just some subjects that CAN be taught as a group!  In our family, we have three sets of children- the itty bitties that are not yet in school, the elementary kids, and the older ones.  I tend to lump the two school-aged sets into one group of together-learning for the subjects listed above.  It saves time, they love to learn together, and less planning for me!  The littlest ones color or play while listening.
  2. Assigning work- Older children are just more capable of independent work that the younger ones.  My high schooler and middle schooler have assignment logs.  They are given a quiet space and time to complete their work in the morning.  I only assign work that I know they are capable of.  I teach anything new that they cannot pick up on their own.  For us, this is some math and most of their grammar, spelling, and writing.  While the older ones complete work, the younger ones are being taught by me in the next room.  I stop to help the older ones as I am needed.
  3. Reading time.  A lifesaver.  Assign independent reading time to the older children when you need to work one-on-one with younger students.  My high-schooler and middle-schooler read about an hour each day.  Also, you can assign an older child to read to a younger child!  Win, win!
  4. Helpers- You can opt to use your much-older children to help a younger child with some school work.  We do not do this in our home, usually due to the workload of the older children, but I’ve heard many homeschool mommies love to do this.
  5. Scheduling, scheduling, scheduling-  Our best work is in the afternoon when our littles lay down for a nap!  I may have six children, but I am only occupied with four of them during times when I am actually teaching.  Also scheduling in a “room time” for littles helps!  When there are mornings of constant arguing (yep, happens here too) or just an overall need for peace, I call for Room Time.  Such a blessing!  The littlest ones spend quiet time, playing alone in their separate rooms.  I really can’t talk this one up enough.  It’s like heaven.  It usually lasts about thirty minutes for us.  It’s just enough of a break to allow the older ones to think and the younger ones to have happier, kinder attitudes.  We all need some time alone sometimes.

I am posting our family’s schedule below, just as an example (baby was not included). I carefully plan every summer & winter break for how I THINK things will go, then massively change it all as we need to.  Whatever works!  You will find your groove too!


This is not an exhaustive list!  For those of you with multiple students, what are your secrets?



Making a Home

Post-Pardum Blues


I held my newborn son in my arms and watched as he puckered out his lips and stretched.  I have always loved that face.  “Duck-lips” we call it.  Each of our six babies have done it, and I swear that someday I’ll actually record it happening to memorialize it for all time to come, but I’ve never been able to swerve my gaze from them long enough to find the camera.  As I stared into this baby’s sweet little face, I knew I should embrace this moment.  He was to be my last little one, and he wouldn’t stay little long.

But, instead, I found myself frustrated.  All I wanted was to find a show to binge-watch.  It didn’t matter what- just anything mildly entertaining to take my mind off of the reality I was now living.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to run out of the house, hop in the van, and take off for Florida, all by myself.

I came downstairs with baby in tow and faced a crowd around our table.  Five little faces sat with their grandmothers and father, all having started supper.  They loudly, happily greeted their momma, who had been hibernating all to often in her room.  Instead of running to kiss their heads and beam smiles, I wanted to just STOP THE NOISE!!!  I handed the baby off to the first set of open adult arms and sat, angrily pushing around the food on my plate and asking them to please just be quiet.

The baby had had a pretty scary case of jaundice.  He had to be readmitted to the hospital on day three.  Once we were finally released, we had to return every single day for almost two weeks to continue to monitor his jaundice levels.  It was a lot.  I worried for my baby and I ached to see his poor teeny feet covered in too-large band-aids.  My breasts ached from newborn baby feedings.  My body ached all over from giving birth and lack of sleep.  My head pounded.  And all I felt was a severe desire to be alone and not be touched.  I could tell from the looks at the table that I was hurting feelings. Mommy was not being very nice.

When I went for my first post-pardum visit, the doctor took one look at me and pronounced me DEPRESSED.  “What?” I almost shouted at her.  “I’m not depressed!  I’m worn out!  I’m sad!  But I’m not….” I couldn’t get the words out.  I just burst into tears and sobbed all over her.  I’m pretty sure she was thinking of committing me somewhere had I not persuaded her that it was due to the many, many trips to the hospital for the baby.

“Have you ever felt like this before?” she asked.  “No!” I answered.  “But I’ve never had six kids before either!”

After dwelling in the Land of Denial for a few days, I finally did a google search for “Signs of Post-Pardum Depression”. It was totally all about me.  Except for wanting to harm myself or others, I fit the bill to a tee.  But how could this be me?  Depression was for people that didn’t want to be mommies!  Or weren’t prepared for it!  Or were under a great deal of stress- like in the middle of a war or had just had their arm ripped off or something else really horrible!  It definitely wasn’t for me!  I had done this “mommy gig” five times before!  I kind of/sort of felt like I knew what I was doing.  (We don’t ever really- but I had survived this before!)  I had a loving husband, a supportive family.  We were financially stable.  No impending doom loomed over my head.  So why the depression?

To admit I was depressed felt like I was weak.  Like I was not appreciative of all the good things and people in my life.  But to not admit it meant I was not going to get any better.  So face it I did.

I talked about it with my husband and my mom.  I was told, “I know, Dear.”  I prayed daily and asked God to remove it from me and make me happy again.  I told my closest friends and asked them to bear with me for the time being.  It was not a quick thing to be fixed.  It took many months.  For some people, I hear it can take years.  I am grateful it didn’t for me.  I let myself rest as much as I could.  I delayed starting back school with the kids.  I read my Bible more.  I let others help me.  I let myself binge-watch those teenage shows without guilt.  I ate whatever I wanted and enjoyed it.  I wore fuzzy socks and stretchy pants and took long, hot showers.  I held my baby and let myself just be content to feel bad for the short term, knowing that I loved him, even though I was hurting.  I fake-smiled for the other kids, hugged and kissed them and stuck it out, loudness and all.  And tried desperately to keep my mouth closed.

And slowly, ever so slowly, I came out of the dark storm clouds and back to myself. Those days were full of sadness and pain, tears, and an overwhelming sense that nothing would ever be fun or happy again until I got to heaven.  Living was HARD.  But I’ve come out of that, hopefully a little wiser for the experience and a little more empathetic.

And I’m grateful.


Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

Teaching From Home, Earning $$$ with VIPKid

Over the last few months, I’ve been teaching ESL classes online to children in China through VIPkid!  It is a one-on-one program for children ages 4-12.  I’m able to earn a little money to help out my family, all while my little ones are still asleep.  This job is PERFECT for homeschool mommies (or daddies) that want to earn a little more on the side ($14-22/hour) and still maintain their family’s normal work and school schedules.  If you have a bachelor’s degree and one year of teaching experience, you qualify!  Check out the video below!


If you’re interested in this super-cool, fun job (It really is!), just know that there’s a bit of up-front work before the $$$$$ starts rolling in.  But by month two, I had a bunch of cutesy kids all lined up, ready to learn new English words and have fun.

It took me all of month #1 to complete the training for the job and jump through the hoops.  It doesn’t have to take this long, but it did for me…just because…well…Come on!  6 kids, People!  This included reading over their material and learning what to do, gathering a few supplies (an orange t-shirt, some pole lamps, a puppet, and some alphabet cards), and setting up a teaching area in my home- as far from my family as I could get!  (It started out as an area in my bedroom and quickly became our basement with an entire floor between me and “them”.)  After completing a couple of mock classes with an adult, I was told I passed.  Don’t be scared!  Those classes super helped me prepare for the actual classroom!  I’m so glad I had the practice.  I then had to take a short and sweet video of myself and set up a small profile page.  Later, I had to give proof of my education and provide a bit of info.

Soooo….maybe you could complete this stuff in far less time than I did.  Again, I really drug my feet to get it done.  But it was so worth it!  Tough it out, and you, too, can be setting your own schedule and getting paid to do what you’re already good at, all while staying in your jammy-pants!

If you’re interested, please show the love and use me as a reference!  I will be bursting with happiness to help you learn the ropes and guide you along in any way I can!!

Sign up for VIPKid! 

My Referral Code= 04VFGA

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

Get Your Mess Together Day

We had just completed our third kid birthday weekend in one month.  Balloons were scattered about the floor.  Dishes piled all over the counter-tops.  An embarrassingly humongous pile of clean laundry was eating our loveseat.  Days had been packed full of soccer games, music and dance lessons, and the normal grind of school work.  Then there was also a smattering of doctor appointments, planned and not-so-much.  And Momma was sick again and again.  Needless to say, our house was in a chaotic disorder.

I totally understand the phrase that sometimes a house with kids living there can show “the proof of life”.  And perfectionist though I used to be (come on- there are SIX kids.  Perfection got thrown out a long time ago.), I can usually ignore a little bit of mess here and there and still feel pretty okay about myself.  But not this.  This was a hostile takeover of my sanity.  I could not, would not be able to think or function in this environment one.  more.  day.

We needed a break.  Badly.  Just a day to stop the constant overload of Too Much To Do. So we took it- because we could.  Because we homeschool.  We called it our “Get Your Mess Together Day”, and it was heavenly.  I wrote up a list of everything that was wrong with our house the night before, and read it aloud to the children.  I promised them zero school work if only we would all pitch in together and tackle it.  They wrote their little names beside each chore they chose to handle.  In the afternoon, I promised that there would be game time with Mommy to celebrate (also much needed).

No, not everything on my list was accomplished.  Nor was anything done quite the way I would have done it myself.  But it was oh, so much better than it was before.  And just seeing my little kiddos, big to small, helping with all their might, did my overworked Mommy heart a lot of good.  Spending time together that was not school or a planned event of some sort was also good.  We laughed, we hugged.  We ate popcorn & sipped coke floats.  We passed around the baby.

Get Your Mess Together Day.  I think it’s going to be a new family tradition.  Right up there with Christmas and Thanksgiving.  Only, maybe a little better even.

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

When Momma’s Sick


Our school year, so far, has been not the hottest thing going.  I just went through a month and a half of a doozy of an illness.  I watched weepy-eyed as all of my carefully laid plans shattered one by one.  Play dates, field trips, and even our family vacation got the shaft.  The kids stopped asking “how many days till…” because the answer was repeatedly, “Sorry.  Mommy just can’t,”.  Thankfully, it’s done now, and life can (hopefully) go on.  It’s rough when your little people need you to take care of them, and you can’t even take care of yourself!  And when you’re also their teacher, life can get really crunchy.

So- what did school look like for us while I was in and out of fevers, popping antibiotics like they were going out of style, and laying on the couch in severe pain?  We did the best we could.  Every sane moment, I would assign work for the older children, read to the little ones, and grade papers.  I taught what I could from the couch.  We listened to audio books together, the children read the science lesson aloud, and the older ones helped the younger.  It wasn’t stellar, it wasn’t our best, but we kept going.

And you know what?  I found that in the midst of those imperfect school days, a lot of real life learning happened.  Not just book stuff, which is, of course, important.  But how to put others first, how to lovingly take care of the ones you love.  How to have a bit more patience.   My older children learned to make lunch for us all.  They had set aside their own desire to have some free time to go get their mom a piece of dry crusty toast or a glass of water, rock the baby, or help a little sibling with their writing.  I would never have chosen to start out this school year with this kind of a bang, but I think we’ve been made the better for it.

*****I feel for you mommas out there with chronic illnesses.  I know of many homeschool moms in that situation that are taking one step at a time, doing their very best for their children.  With every struggle, with every day, they are pushing on and accomplishing all that they can, despite pain and hardship.  I have heard one woman say that she did not know exactly how long she could keep going before she would be confined to a wheelchair, but she was fitting in as many field trips as she could until that day came.  What love and sacrifice.  I am in awe of you.  Your little ones are watching you.  And they are learning a lot.


Prepare for change.

Prepare for change.

Hmm? That statement is a contradiction of terms, isn’t it: When you truthfully consider change?

We may think we are prepared for change that comes in our lives but we normally aren’t. Most people, by observation of self and others, tend to be creatures of complacency and habit. We like homeostasis. To think we are in a neutral state, but also to think we are ready and willing to change.

I say, “Hogwash!”

Normally, no one is as prepared as we think we are regarding change in our lives.

You may ask what this has to do with homeschool and why is it on a homeschool blog.

I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Valerie Wesley. I am a late 30’s wife and mother. I have been married to my dear husband for 16 years and we have 4 children ranging in ages from 20 to 11 years.

Needless to say, a lot of change has happened in our lives. Much we didn’t know was happening in the moment and only upon reflecting and looking back did we notice had happened.

God has been so gracious to us over the years!

A friend recently asked me for information in choosing a homeschool curriculum for her preschooler.

(Please know, this is one of my favorite subjects! Everything homeschool! Oh! How I could talk for days!!! Hence the blog post! 😉)

Although, upon closer personal contemplation, in response to her, I quickly realized that my thoughts and beliefs on teaching preschoolers had changed, much to my surprise! And, quite without my knowledge or recognition!

When I had a preschooler, I wanted to have her be more intellectual than her peers. I wanted her to know how to count higher, read more words, and memorize more poetry than other four year olds that we may have come in contact with. Many tears were shed from my sweet baby girl and myself from unrealistic expectations. Please remember- Your children want to please you and they will try so hard to do so. Recognize their darling attempts and willingness to try with sweet encouragement and appreciation.

I say those things with a hint of sadness now; when at the time, I was foolishly and stubbornly prideful in my reasoning.

For this unnoticed change, rumination, and grace given by God to reconsider, I am extremely thankful. I didn’t know I wanted or needed change. I am thankful that our Heavenly Father didn’t leave me or us there though. He graciously grew me and worked in my life in continued sanctification.

For my thoughts and beliefs have changed about homeschooling preschoolers.

Read to them. Read to them. Read to them! 1000’s of books! Get yourselves a local library card, then wear it out by checking out a ton of books and resources! Visit your library during their preschool lap sits, story times, and craft days. State parks have many homeschool days and from what I’ve witnessed, park staff and rangers will gladly share their knowledge with you and your little ones.

Teaching counting? Why not let your little one count small (safe/non choking hazard) objects? Sort them! Group them! Divide them!

Looking to enrich fine motor skills? Allow your beloved preschooler to cut flowers out of your free copy of Better Homes & Gardens. Encourage her to paste them around the base of her letter ‘B’ beehive with four baby bumblebee’s unreservedly glued above!

I agree with many of the methods of the Charlotte Mason philosophy. Allow little children to interact with their environment and nature while training & guiding their minds toward thinking about why things naturally function the way they do.

You know how your child learns. Hopefully, you have an understanding of how their magnificent mind works to figure out and reason through life around them. You may be a homeschooling proficient or just considering homeschooling, therefore you have already contemplated how to tailor your child’s education. You want what is best for them and you have an excellent head start in being able to lead them in early education. Be encouraged! Eventually they will learn to write in cursive and multiply, but it doesn’t have to be today, or tomorrow, six months from now, or next year! I am not saying not to encourage them, nor to set reasonable expectations, but if you have a preschooler, I ask you to consider letting them be a preschooler. This is the only time they will have in their lives to be little. Also this is the only time in your life that you will have for them to be little. Enjoy it.

Times will change. Those babies will change. And by God’s grace, you’ll change for the better too!

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

A Weighty Kind of Wonderful

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We had our first day of school today, and I asked my children to write about or draw pictures showing what they would like to be when they grow up.  My ten-year-old drew this.  She wants to be a mommy like me.  Like ME.  It’s so sweet and super scary at the same time.  Just what kind of mommy am I?  Am I talking/behaving/acting like I want her to towards my grandchildren some day?  What a gentle reminder to me to be in prayer daily for right attitudes and behaviors.  May I be the kind of mommy that would bring glory and honor to my Lord and set a good example for my child.  And may I be quick to apologize when I am not!!  I am totally not perfect.  Admitting it and reminding her that I am not is also good for her.  I do not want her beating herself up someday for not meeting that unattainable standard this side of Heaven.

On a side note, two of the children are (accurately) yelling at each other and the baby is screaming his head off.  Yes, I asked.  And yet, the mommy and daddy are still smiling!  That’s not so accurate.  Ha!  Also cute, her husband looks like her daddy.