We now have five kids, all but our 13 month old are actively homeschooling. When my 3rd started Kindergarten, I realized quickly that I couldn’t possibly spread myself any thinner. How on earth was I going to do this when all FIVE were doing lessons? While it took changing literally every single thing that I started out doing, our homeschool days are now (mostly) relaxed and smooth sailing. This is exactly what we’re doing:
Combine Subjects Whenever You Possibly Can
We use a few different things to do this, but the main two are Harbor and Sprout and gameschooling.
While you need to check your local homeschool laws, in Florida, we just have to show progress year over year.
It’s me that is putting pressure on us to cover so much, not the state.
Because it’s super easy for me to show our progress, I have really relaxed in most ways and now combine everything except for math and language arts.
Harbor and Sprout is my favorite unit study curriculum.
We purchase a unit, currently we’re loving their Outdoor Survival Skills unit, and print whatever I need for each age.
My favorite way to homeschool though, is to use as few worksheets as possible.
For us, this looks like gameschooling or just learning through doing.
We use games to reinforce lessons whenever possible.
Today we played Outnumbered for the first time and absolutely loved it.
Sleeping Queens is a favorite for manipulating numbers up to ten.
Scrambled States of America and Ticket to Ride are great geography games.
If you have a lesson you want to teach, I can almost guarantee you there is a game to do it.
If money is a roadblock, look on Teachers Pay Teachers for games that you can print or even use dice and cards you already have on hand.
Don’t Do Every Subject Every Day!
If I could figure out how to make this font as big as your screen, I would!
The quickest way to get overwhelmed with homeschooling is to sit down and make a really rigorous schedule that is broken down by hour.
At least in my life, that’s a recipe for disaster.
This is my secret large family homeschool schedule:
I don’t use a rigid schedule!
Instead, I make a checklist in my Panda Planner and do everything I can to stick to it.
Today, that looked like “reading with Tinson”, “math with Kolton”, “reading with Harbour”, “ABCs with Poppy.”
We’re breaking back into a homeschool routine after the holidays, so I’m keeping our days nice and light.
On a regular day, I would aim to do math with each kid and then play educational games followed by some sort of documentary.
I’ll ask one of my kids to dictate a story to me while I type.
Maybe my son is building legos and I’ll ask him to tell me a story about it and make up characters.
Then he has to tell me the plot, antagonist, and explain the resolution before wrapping up his story.
I try to turn anything they’re passionate about and ALREADY DOING into some sort of lesson without them even realizing it.
When I feel like I’m falling short, I remind myself that there are thousands of people (probably millions) unschooling all over the US and they’re doing just fine.
I don’t have to put so much pressure on my kids just because I felt like adding something to a to-do list.
Find a Digital Resource That You Love
For us, this is Reading Eggs (not sponsored, no affiliate link, I’m not getting paid for this).
I just truly love the program.
My husband and I were stressing on the way home from a family vacation a couple of years ago that our two oldest kids weren’t reading yet.
Not only were they not reading, they had less than ZERO desire to read.
They were bored with how I was teaching them and each of them told me separately that they felt stupid.
I was failing them.
Facebook read my mind and I started seeing ads for Reading Eggs.
They were offering a 30 day free trial and I figured what the heck.
We certainly didn’t have anything to lose.
I told my husband I’d put a reminder in my calendar for a month from now and we’d revisit this issue.
Maybe we’d hire a tutor or something.
When that calendar alert went off a month later, both of my boys were reading short stories and each of them were already more than halfway through the Reading Eggs portion of the program.
There are more advanced levels, and we love them all, but Reading Eggs is what turned the corner for us.
My 9 year old is an amazing reader and my 7 year old is reading at grade level.
This is after being super “behind”, whatever that means, just a couple short years ago.
When I feel overwhelmed or a child is struggling with a lesson, I let my kids do Reading Eggs while I work one on one with that child.
Change Your Goals
Your goal in homeschooling, in my humble opinion, is to keep your kids’ fire to learn burning.
The quickest way to extinguish it is to push them to the point of boredom every single day.
Yes, they need to learn to read and to develop math skills.
But you’re likely homeschooling because you didn’t like something about the way your local public and private school options were educating.
Homeschooling allows us flexibility.
Use that flexibility, to the fullest extent under your local regulations, to make it work for your kids.
That looks like all of you actually enjoying your lessons instead of groaning when it’s time to start and begging to be done early.
Homeschooling multiple ages at once is super daunting. No one that I know has ever managed to do it stress free from the get go. Once you iron out the kinks, learn to go easier on yourself and your kids, and break up with the schedule – you’ll all be happier for it. Homeschooling various grades at once is way easier than it sounds if you just allow yourself not to complicate it. Good luck!