Homeschooling Stuff

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

shack-1059440__340

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?

 

 

Advertisements
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

fever-310721__340

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.

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

A Weighty Kind of Wonderful

FullSizeRender 2

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.

Homeschooling Stuff · Making a Home

Welcoming A Second Author!

I’m excited to announce that this blog site will now have two authors!  My sweet friend, Valerie, has graciously agreed to contribute her thoughts and advice.  She has been a wonderful, godly influence in my life and has been my go-to for homeschooling advice.  While my experience lies in teaching eighth grade and below, Valerie has also navigated high school and beyond.  I look forward to reading her posts!

Homeschooling Stuff

Attitude, Smatitude- Homeschooling in Real Life: Day 1

I have homeschooled for eight years now.  Every single one of them, without fail, has begun the same way.  We have yet to actually crack the books this year.  But though my children are getting older, I’m seriously not expecting things to be any different this go round.

The day begins with the zombie shuffling and moaning towards the table.  There will be stupid arguments.  Yes, those exist.  You can’t tell me that arguing over who gets to look at the back of the cereal box or fussing that someone is looking out the same window as you are valid reasons to complain.  Next comes absolute disgruntlement over whatever food is placed before them or the drinks in their cups.  You get the picture.  Children that were ALL SUMMER LONG up before dawn, screaming throughout the house with giddy excitement can now suddenly not remember how to hold a spoon properly.

They know it’s coming.  They’ve seen Mom (or Dad) carefully preparing for this day.  Books have been bought.  Supplies ready.  Pencils all sharpy-like.  Maybe a little blackboard even, with a smiley-face, welcoming them back to school.  Whatever your little attempts to get your crew all eager and ready to learn.  Be prepared, oh homeschool parent.  If they are older than five, they aren’t buying into your happy juice.  They are actually, for really, screaming on the inside.  Clutching at their fleeting summer as if by sheer attitude alone, they can turn this around and gain a bit more of the easy life.

So what should you do on day 1?

  1.  Just let this day be easy.  Step up to the plate, armed with the knowledge that it isn’t you.  Don’t take it personal.  Don’t be angry with your spawn.  Don’t have any high expectations for either yourself or them.  I repeat- do NOT expect much.  If you are a comparing parent, just know:  public school doesn’t either.  I know- I attended many of them.
  2. Celebrate in some way.  Pancakes for breakfast or a trip to Krispy Kreme.  Ice cream for supper.  A trip to a park, museum, or the library.  Get crafty and make something.  Whatever you and your bunch find exciting.
  3. Take pictures!  This one is a fun tradition for many homeschoolers.  They can hold up little signs, stating what grade they’re in.  If you’re like many of us and your child is all over the board, just write down their ages instead.  Or they can just stand there with no sign at all.  Whatever.  Make it your own.  Every year, you can take a new pic and compare.  Nothing professional, just fun.
  4. Look at their stuff with them.  Let them thumb through their new books, write their names on their notebooks, play around with the new markers.  Let them feel the ownership of it all.
  5. Go over your expectations for the year with them.  Tell them your hopes/goals.  You can talk about field trip opportunities, books to read together or on their own, projects you hope to accomplish.  Make it something to look forward to- hopeful things.  Ask them what they hope to do/learn this year or what they want to be when they grow up.  You can have them write down their dreams if you want or draw a picture.
  6. And finally, take charge.  Gently.  With love.  Tell them how much you love them, how you believe in them, and how excited you are to be their teacher.  Also include expectations for behavior, consequences for refusing to do work or for poor work done in haste.  Sometimes writing reminders on a chart on the wall or in notebooks can help if you need to reinforce this later.  Don’t forget to talk about why school is important.  If you are a believing family, pray for and with your children for the coming year.

You can choose to accomplish a few small tasks if you’d like, but remember, don’t expect to completely jump into the school year and have them knock out a bunch of assignments.  You’ll just be banging your head against a wall.  I promise you will all be miserable.  Adults need time to adjust to major life changes.  So do kids.  Take time to enjoy this first day.  Tomorrow will thank you for it.