Monday, June 8, 2009

How Do You Manage... Teaching A Multi-Age Group?

Ever feel like your life is a three ring circus? Me too. This is the time of year to change all of that for next time around. September will be here before you know it. Don't delay. Don't put it off any longer. Get organized.

When I started homeschooling I had three children. A fourth grader, a first grader and a toddler. The next year I was shocked (literally deer-in-the-headlights) to find myself with five children. My step-daughter had moved in and I had a new baby. This added a high schooler (how did I do that!?) and an infant to the mix.

What saved me is the Managers of Their Homes book by Steve and Terri Maxwell. They taught me how to schedule with a large family.

Today I have six here with me, one in 10th grade, one in 6th, a first grader, two preschoolers and a toddler.
Here is how I manage it:

1. Before spending time planning for the year, have your children each write down what they want to learn. Having a big family doesn't mean that individuality goes by the wayside. Last year my eldest daughter wanted to learn to sew, quilt and make a menu for meals. My eldest son wanted to learn about electrical wiring and how to ride a horse. I fit all of these in at some time during the year.

2. Spend time planning. This is the KEY! Go to your local curriculum fair. Take a weekend by yourself or with your husband to decide what each child needs. Consider standardized test scores (if you have them) and their strengths and weaknesses. Consider each learning style.

3. Schedule. Read the book, Managers of Their Homes by the Maxwells. I know scheduling seems like a big job, but it pays for it's self over and over. Decide who should be doing what at every half hour of your homeschool time. Make sure there is time for everything. Consult your older children and your husband, make sure it works.

Some tricks that I've learned:

A. You don't have to be with every child all of the time. Put yourself where you are most needed, like with the child who is learning to read instead of the fifth grader who only needs minimal math help. Be sure to be with each child during their toughest subject. And, although your older ones may be independent, be sure to have a check in time with them every day to see how they are doing and if they need help.

B. Older children can have time with younger ones. This understanding was nothing short of a miracle for me! Your five-year-old can have a half hour play time with your two-year-old every day and your fifth grader can teach your two-year-old her colors during a "preschool" time. That is one solid hour that your toddler is busy! One solid hour that you can teach Algebra or reading or do the laundry!

4. Implement. It won't work if you don't use it. It is hard at first. The schedule seems chaotic. In reality it will save you hours and hours stress.

No comments: