Winning Strategies to Help You Homeschool Multiple Children
by Kristi Crosson
When you’re the mom of more than one child, the idea of homeschooling all of them can feel extremely daunting. Images of multiple 7-hour school days may flash through your head, and you feel completely overwhelmed before you even start. Trust me, I’ve been there.
We started our official homeschool journey when my oldest was in the second grade. I had him and a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. I had no clue what I was doing. I just knew that if they learned the basics of reading, writing, art, and arithmetic, they could do anything they wanted in life.
Some of the best advice I received was to keep it simple. While you may hop online and see elaborate and incredible homeschool rooms and lessons, all those things are just a little extra. They aren’t necessary when you’re getting started. I know each state has different rules and regulations, but the following homeschooling strategies can help you when you’re teaching multiple children of different ages and abilities.
Focus on the basics, then build out from there
I mentioned reading, writing, and arithmetic for a reason. Think about it. If a child can read, they can learn anything. If they can write, they can share their ideas. If they have the space to create art, they can expand their imagination. And if they can do math…well, you get the picture.
When I say art, I don’t mean Pinterest-perfect art projects. I simply mean free creativity. A piece of paper, markers, crayons, sticks and glue. You’ll be amazed at what they come up with. The basics give each child the foundation and confidence to learn subjects they are interested in and to understand different topics as they grow.
Teach your children how to teach themselves
This is really important. Lifelong learners are people who don’t rely on others to spoon-feed them information. They go out and find it themselves. When they want to learn a new skill, they find a book, a course, or a person to teach them. Children who can teach themselves don’t need to always be spoon-fed information.
As you teach your child to teach themselves, you will gain independence from 1:1 lessons, which can take up a lot of time. You get to transition from being a teacher to being a facilitator of learning. You’re there to answer questions when your kiddos get stuck, but you don’t need to do every bit of the teaching.
Combine lessons and give age appropriate assignments
I teach history and science with everyone altogether. I read the content out loud to everyone and ask questions along to way to gauge their understanding of the material and to talk about what we are learning. My oldest has written assignments to complete, while my younger two get to draw pictures of what they learned. This helps every
Let the older ones read to the younger out loud
This helps on multiple different fronts. First, it helps foster a healthy sibling relationship. Secondly, it helps the older child practice reading aloud which is good for public speaking later in life. Lastly, it gives you a break to focus on the toddler running around the room. Reading aloud is important every day and whether you’re the one reading or it’s one of your children, everyone will benefit.
Leverage all the tools at your fingertips
Homeschooling isn’t just a book and a parent standing in the front of the room. There are so many resources online, in libraries, and in your community. Field trips, nature hikes, co-ops, and more are all different ways you can help your children learn.
Let me give you an example of how this works. My oldest LOVES math. But when he comes to a new topic, he can get frustrated easily and want to give up. I walk him through the steps of the problems. I ask him the right questions to help him take the next steps. I help him find fun math videos and resources online that teach the topic in a different way. Sometimes we find objects to do the problems using tangible items. The thing is, as a facilitator of learning, I don’t need to be the one to teach him. I am there to make sure he learns the concepts.
Another example would be for history. Instead of teaching them about your state history from a book, go to a cool place and then teach them about the history of that place when you get there. Learning comes alive at that point, and they are more likely to remember the details than if you just told them facts from a book.
The thing is, when you homeschool multiple children, It’s about creating efficiencies and doing what works for your children and their personalities. Take it one day and one lesson at a time. I like to say that “we’re a family and we work together”. Because the truth is, we all bring something important to the table, including the homeschooling one.
About the Author
Kristi Crosson is a writer and photographer and homeschools her three children, ages 8, 4, and 2. She is in the process of writing her first book, a personal story about God’s goodness in the midst of heartache and impossible situations.
Her background includes work in communications for a large Christian non-profit and freelance writing for hundreds of businesses on social media and blogs.
She has more than 15 years of ministry experience serving in the church and learned valuable leadership skills that she applies to her life and businesses. Kristi has a huge heart to fight human trafficking and see women experience God’s love in powerful ways.
When she is not busy with her businesses or her family, she enjoys creating art, playing music, singing, and hiking. And somehow manages to "do it all". Don't be fooled. In getting real, she'll share about how she manages her day to day work in business and homeschool.
You can read Kristi’s column, Getting Real with Kristi on the 3rd Tuesday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.