Homeschooling with a wide range of children is such an incredible blessing, but let’s be honest, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. Challenges, however, don’t have to mean defeat. There are some tried and true ways to help us, mamas, with a wide range of children not only survive these years but thrive in them.
Depending on the ages of your children, things may look differently, and different things may work and not work. Personally, I have 5 children, ages 2, 3, 7, 11, & 14. My first piece of advice is to find ways to include your younger children in the learning, into the everyday rhythms of your homeschool, which essentially is your life.
You may be wondering what this may look like, so I am going to try to give you some specific examples of what this might look like. Some of these suggestions may work for you, and some may not, but I’m confident there is something that will click for your family.
First, like many homeschool families, we start our day with morning time, or what some may call “morning basket.” We have a basket, but this gets used at both morning and afternoon lesson times, along with whatever units of study we are focusing on that particular day.
The first thing that we always start out with is devotion. Oftentimes this has some relation to something we are learning that day, sometimes it will not. For example, we often use Indescribable or How Great is our God by Louie Giglio, which connects science with scripture in short, but meaningful devotions. I will often choose one that connects. For example, if we are doing a unit on weather, I may select a devotion about thunderstorms, or a tornado.
On other days we may start with a lesson from my 7-year-old “Ready to Read” program, which is very similar in that it is a short lesson about animals or science but also has a Bible Connection section that we use as our devotional on those days.
So two things to point out here. First, we start with something that will engage all ages and start our day on a positive note. The reading program is technically my 7-year-old’s curriculum, and while her workbook pages will be done independently, we choose to read the lesson with everyone during our morning time as a way to bring everyone together, while also covering something we need to cover.
To really hold the attention of my toddlers, I may have a relayed busy bin or sensory bin. For example, when learning about the savanna, they may have a bin of kinetic sand with safari animals. To add more depth for my older two, I may pull in a National Geographic article about the savanna, or a missionary story about Africa.
You may be wondering, but how do the younger ones sit through that? Well, here’s the secret–they don’t. I plan for a tapering-off type of morning time. I do the things first that will engage my 2 and 3-year-olds. When they get antsy, I let them play nearby.
I typically expect my 7-year-old to stay a bit longer but will let her go next, and I will save the more complex readings for the end of our morning time which will end with just myself and my two oldest boys. Then everyone gets a break before lunchtime/naptime/independent work time/chore time.
After lunch, I bring my 2, 3, and 7-year-olds upstairs for naptime storytime, where my 2-year-old will fall asleep and my 3 and 7-year-olds get quiet time before coming back downstairs with me. The older two are expected to do some combination of chores and independent work while I am doing naptime storytime, and then when I come down we start afternoon lessons. With one less toddler in the mix, we are able to get some of the lessons done that require a bit more focus.
There are countless beats to create your own rhythm, and the best-laid plans can still result in what sounds more like chaos than a symphony, but if we don’t give up, we will certainly look back at a beautiful masterpiece.
ABOUT CHRISTINA from ROOTED HOMELIFE
Christina is a wife and mom to five children, ages 1-14, with experience as a public and private school teacher and homeschool mom. Her passion for homeschooling and encouraging moms nowhere they are in their journey came together with the creation of her YouTube channel, Rooted Homelife. She shares all aspects of authentic, international motherhood through humor, faith, and a variety of resources for moms!