Homeschooling offers many rewards and yes, many challenges too. For some, homeschooling the first child to start school seems easy, even balancing the needs of other babies, toddlers or preschoolers in the family.
Soon many of us are homeschooling multiple children in multiple grades. It takes planning and focus to keep more than one child learning and working side by side on completely different levels. Successful homeschooling parents will learn to balance and coordinate teaching time for one child with independent work time for another. Homeschooled students need both.
However, there are many times when a homeschooling family with multiple ages and grade levels can create activities where the whole family is learning together and each is benefiting from the skills practice they need. Here are some examples of homeschooling activities where students are both involved but working on their own level of skills and concepts. These examples will reflect a five-year age difference in students such as preschool and fourth grade, kindergarten and fifth grade and first grade and sixth grade.
Homeschool lesson plans for letter recognition and spelling:
When an older child is working on mastering spelling words and a younger child is working on recognizing the alphabet, consider a letter magnets game.
Here’s how this multi-age homeschool lesson plan works.
The older child is given a word to spell with letter magnets. As the speller determines the letter magnets needs, they ask the younger child to find the letter for them and then they create the word. Both children are involved and working on age appropriate skills.
Parent to oldest child: “Your spelling word is establish.”
Oldest child to youngest child: “I need an ‘e’ please.”
The two work together as a team until the word is built.
Homeschool lesson plans for addition and multiplication:
How can you work on math skills together when one child is learning basic addition and another needs to practice multiplication tables?
We’ve devised a game. We use a jumbo foam dice but typical dice can work as well.
Here’s how this homeschool math game works.
The first child rolls the dice and gets a number. The parent rolls the dice and gets another number.
The child working on addition adds the two numbers and the child working on multiplication drills multiplies the two numbers.
The first child rolls a 7 and the teacher rolls a 3.
The youngest child adds and answers 10.
The older child multiplies and answers 21.
The children take turns rolling the dice but each answer a math question each time so everyone is involved and no one is bored.
Older children benefit from practicing nurturing skills and leadership skills during multi-age homeschool activities. Younger children often seem to learn above grade level skills through osmosis during team activities.
True stories: My five year old starting spouting off the spelling of “Tuesday” after a few rounds of helping his sister find the right letters and almost as soon as he learned that 2 plus 7 was 9, he was chanting “2 times 7 is 14.” This is of course rote memory learning and doesn’t reflect an understanding of spelling or multiplication but still will be of benefit as he approaches mastery of these concepts for himself. The bonus of course for his big sister is that she gets bragging rights for teaching him whenever he shows off his new knowledge.