This week’s Blog Cruise topic is "How do you handle multiple ages/homeschool with a toddler or baby."
My kids are 13, 9 and almost 4. Since we are pretty eclectic and relaxed in our style of homeschooling, it’s easy to combine the older two in many subjects. We have used the notebooking approach with many subjects such as Apologia’s Elementary Creation series for science, and Truthquest for history. Some books we read together, some are assigned seperately on individual levels. They can dive in to their writing assignments, notebooking pages, lapbooking pages, or whatever extra creative works they come up with on their own levels. Often the little brother has been included as a project by dressing him up!
This year has been a challenge with me being gone two days a week. It was hard at first to feel like we were getting everything done, but then as I adjusted our schedule to group "together work" and independent studies, it fell pretty much into place.
To homeschool with different ages I believe takes the right combination of "together studies" and independent learning. I have found it necessary to really evaluate where each child is excelling as well as where they might be lacking or struggling. Those areas of need seem to change as I schedule our time to include sitting down and working through them one on one. I do believe it gets easier as the kids get older and have more independent studies.
Currently in our family it works best if I begin our day with some preschool time for Levi. While the girls tend to the critters and get morning chores done, I try to get Levi’s day started with a Before Five in a Row book topic, Critical Thinking math and thinking skills books, tracing books, or whatever he feels like doing together.
Once his love tank is full, the girls and I progress through Bridge to Latin, Grapevine, Nutrition 101, and history together. We then break for lunch and the afternoon is spent going over independent studies from their workboxes that they need help with, which includes math (we use MathUSee), science ( Morgan is going through Apologia’s Gen Science and Tayt is going back through Apologia’s Swimming Creatures again ;), typing, handwriting, logic (Morgan), art, Critical Thinking. Most of the time they don’t need much help with their independent studies, but sometimes we have to put other things aside to work out places they need help.
When Levi was an infant homeschooling was really easy as he just hung out with us. I was still home all the time, and didn’t take the extra time to schedule out independent study days, which gave me more time to spend with him. It was indeed, a bit more difficult as he became mobile, but we did have plenty for him to do, including lots of toys, music, and educational videos. As he moved into toddler status, he much preferred to be with us at the table, so I did implement some "Preschool in a Bag" activities, and had a few boxes packed with things he could only get out during "schooltime".
Homeschooling is really more of a lifestyle than anything, so homeschooling when more littles come along is really just a matter of adapting your lifestyle to include another as you would anyway.
I’ve definitely noticed that lately he brings his "loud" toys into the room to play while we are getting started. Many times he watches a movie or plays on the computer while we are working, and it’s a bit challenging to keep the girls from getting distracted. I know in theory our world could be better organized, but I’m so thankful everyday to have my kids home where they belong to school!