My worst year of homeschooling was my first year when I started teaching all three kids, each on their own cores.
Why was it so hard? I bought a separate curriculum for each child with all the bells and whistles! I lacked confidence and homeschooling experience, and I thought this would be the best educational option for each child . Even though I had taught in government schools for 10 years, I was afraid to teach my younger children. I didn’t want to leave any gaps, miss anything each child may need, and I thought that the curriculum supplier would know what was best for my family.
Why was that a BAD decision? The workload stressed out me completely. I could barely keep up with each childs’ schedule. I read aloud for hours every day. My throat actually ached! I was exhausted. It took me ages to find the rhythm and flow for our family. As we progressed, I realized that the kids listen to each other’s read alouds. When you use a literature-based curriculum as your core, it becomes a family journey. Why not just read one read aloud for the whole family?
What would you suggest instead? Group the kids together.
Plan to teach similar-aged children on the one core using the same read alouds.
How will each child learn from the same core? Even though the read aloud or content may be the same, differentiate their activities for each topic.
How does differentiation work? In other words you offer different options or activities ~ for example: the youngest child illustrates their narration, the middle schooler works on a dictated narration in minibooks or a lapbook, while the older child types their narrations on the computer and prints out their own notebook page. OR A young preschooler and middle schooler build Lego models, while an older child draws and labels a picture. OR one child dramatizes the story and another writes a newspaper report. OR they all can do the same activity, but just at their own level or ability. You get the idea, right? Because they are on their own level for Maths, Spelling, Writing and Reading learning, they will progress through their basics individually, but enjoy the same homeschool story journey.
What about the pace? Sometimes you may focus the core’s pace on the older child, covering more work daily, or sometimes you may need to focus on the younger kids, slowly progressing at their rate and ability. You will soon find your family’s flow and rhythm and pace for each season and your children’s ages and stages.
Of course, some years, grouping everyone together may not be possible. Your children’s ages differences may be too big to combine them all on one Core, or each child may be on a completely different grade level. Even so, if you use different cores, try cover the same themes; say World History or Middle Ages or Vikings, during the same time. Despite my best efforts, one year, each child had to work on their own cores – a middle schooler, a junior high and a graduate level. I focused most my attention on my highschool graduate that year and my youngest child “floated” more than I had wished.
When you teach several children on one core, you all enjoy the same story and participate in similar projects, do the same lapbooks or hands-on activities. Your family enjoys outings and trips built around the same core. It becomes a unified homeschooling journey. This approach is less stressful for mom and really wonderful for the family. Read about our family’s Footprints On Our Land journey.