If you have multiple children and you’ve been in the homeschooling/home managing game for any amount of time, you understand the challenge of trying to homeschool your children at the same time.
If you’re really struggling, or who are new this year to the homeschooling scene due to COVID-19, I pray that the tips I share in this post will be helpful for you.
But first, a little disclaimer…
Homeschooling, by nature, already leans toward the challenging end of the spectrum. There are a lot of things that can make it challenging, including our own mindset, our family culture, our relationships with our kids, and our level of preparedness for homeschooling.
This post will mainly focus on helping you have an approach for how you run the academics portion of your day and to help you with a homeschool plan.
If you feel that your struggle is relational, I encourage you to read my posts about connecting with your kids and learning to grow in love with your kids. You can also check out my resource page to see which parenting books I highly recommend!
Let’s get to the tips. Here are seven think-outside-the-box ideas you can implement today to homeschool multiple kids at the same time.
1. Give the older kids a responsibility to help teach the youngers
One of the benefits of having kids of different ages is that you have academic helpers.
My older girls have been really helpful in teaching my son all the letters of his alphabet by using flashcards, and in helping oversee my pre-k age daughter with what she’s doing.
Personally, what I prefer to do is to have all my children do their academics in the morning. Some homeschoolers spread theirs out throughout the day, but for me, that’s too difficult to keep track of.
I also don’t leave it to my kids to do their academics whenever they choose during the day. Again, too difficult to keep up with, and with all the other things I tend to, I can’t be at the mercy of my kid’s choices for this one.
I believe it’s important to equip your kids with the mentality that we all take care of each other. It’s not something that mom and dad do only; it’s everyone’s responsibility to help each other.
If you need/want to, you can even assign older children to teach the little ones everyday (this is a fabulous training opportunity!) and then the littles can go play while you work with the older children.
2. Stagger their schoolwork (if you’re schooling during one time)
Something that I’ve implemented is schoolwork staggering. Because I prefer to do their academics all at the same time, I like to make sure that the older girls, who do more work on their own, are doing schoolwork that doesn’t require me to be super involved. And when I say super involved, I’m talking detailed lesson plans that require hours of pre-gurgitation.
Because my kids are different ages and grade levels, I simply cannot have a curriculum that’s too involved and requires too much from me as far as prep time is concerned. I talked in this post about how and why you don’t need to have a super involved curriculum (and why it’s not even necessary).
This is why I really like the ACE curriculum. I’ve used others before, but man, this one teaches the kiddos from the get-go how to be self-taught and be able to check their own work. I’ve deviated from it from time to time to try other things, but I always end up coming back to it, and my kiddos love it.
Since my two little ones have super simple, non-extensive schoolwork, I can assign my older girls to do the work that doesn’t really require any help from me while I work with the babies. Then, when they’re done and off to play, I can focus on the olders.
3. Use Educational Shows (Leap Frog, Sesame Street)
An option for your littles is to put on an educational show for them while the olders work on schoolwork. Netflix or your local library has Leap Frog shows; Sesame Street and Barney are free on YouTube; and you can get a subscription to Right Now Media for all Christian kids shows.
As a homeschooling mom, you don’t have to put all the pressure on yourself to teach your kids every little thing. My older girls learned both their letters and letter sounds from Leap Frog Letter Factory. It was so helpful for me!
On the days where I was a little behind, this was usually my go-to option for my little one (s).
4. Don’t do academics at the same time for all children
I know this post focuses on how to homeschool all your children at the same time, and while that’s what I prefer, you can obviously opt to do it at different times if it works better for you.
An option for younger children is to make academics part of their evening or night routine. You can use this for one-on-one time to teach reading, math facts, number and letter identification, letter tracing, color and shape identification, and to read to them.
Since younger children typically don’t need near as much time as older elementary school children do, this is actually not difficult to incorporate and it allows you to give more focused time to children who have harder work.
5. Teach through reading & doing some subjects together
You can teach your kids so much through just reading to them (or having them read). This is pretty much the entire premise of the Living Books academic approach.
You can choose living books of all topics-historical, literature, science, poetry, etc. Depending on the ages of your children, you can even choose to do all subjects this way and only leave math as a separate subject.
Geography, for instance, can be fun to do together. You can purchase an affordable map like this one to teach your kiddos continents, oceans, and states. You can advance it for older kiddos by having them know the names of capitals and other important landmarks.
If you have children that are near the same age, you may want to consider starting them at the same grade level. My younger two, who are 3 and 4 years old, are both working on the preschool curriculum from The Relaxed Homeschool. I’ll add a little bit of phonics and sight words and they’re ready to go!
6. Plan ahead
If you prefer schooling all your children at the same time, then the biggest tip I have would be to plan ahead.
Because I’m a part time work at home mom blogger, am active in my church, and I homeschool, I cannot afford not to make sure I both know what my kids will be working on and have all materials on hand. On the days I don’t do this, I find myself struggling to get on top of things and putting out fires all. day. long.
I’ve recently taken the approach of planning my kids’ schoolwork a month in advance. As the month goes by, I’ll also keep track of things I notice that they need more practice in.
You can plan extensively, you can plan loosely, but I’ve found time and time again that I need to both plan and have the materials I need on hand to have a day that flows well and allows me to accomplish the things that need to be done.
7. Opt for online
Lastly, you can opt for some/all of your kids to do some/all of their classes online. I know this may seem like the “easy way out”, but this is at least an option if you need to do it or if you’re still trying to adjust to homeschooling multiple kiddos.
Places like Khan Academy, Outschool, and Mystery Science have pretty cool classes to choose from. My oldest daughter has done a few classes at Khan and has liked them, and I plan on using the others soon.
YouTube is also a fabulous resource for learning all kinds of skills. Currently, my older daughter uses it for ballet and crochet lessons, and my third daughter for drawing.
So these are my tips for homeschooling multiple kids at the same time! What about you? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Comment below and let me know what you do!