Best Homeschooling Decision #2 Group Together

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.

Blessings, Nadene

7 thoughts on “Best Homeschooling Decision #2 Group Together

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  3. Thanks Nadene, I’m trying to find my feet with this right now as I have 2 boys, 8 in May and 6 in August. I was hoping my youngest could follow but Im now 5 weeks into SL core B and it’s just too much for a 5 year old and I’m not sure what to do or when they will ever be comfortable together. My eldest doesn’t want to go back to Core A, so I am reading to my 5 year old from core P4/5 but losing him in Core B. I’m not sure what to do because I really wanted to keep them together. In hindsight I should have waited and done Core A with both together now but it’s too late for that and I don’t want to necessarily slow my eldest down, hwe both love Core B so far. I do plan on doing Core C then Footprints (10 and turning 8 I should imagine, would an 8 year old cope with Footprints?) and hopefully by then they can do Core D&E together after Footprints. Would you suggest I slow Core B down perhaps? Luckily I am using Science A now which works for both.

    Thanks for any tips / advice. How many SL cores did you manage to do, just out of curiosity ;).



    • @Anne, I can fully understand your problem and I feel that you have the right approach when you say, “we both love Core B so far”. I would agree that you should “slow Core B down.” I re-used my Sonlight Cores and stretched them over 18 months so that all my kids could enjoy every moment of it. Sonlight is such an amazing package and your younger son may still find his pace and joy in Core B if you slow down and look for some extra hands-on activities that he can manage. If this doesn’t seem to work, and you have the Core A books, then try blending the books covering same themes for your younger son while still focusing on Care B with your eldest.
      If you still spend another year to 18 months on Core C before going on to Footprints on our Land, I’m sure both your boys will thoroughly enjoy their Footprints journey!
      And because you asked, over the years we used Sonlight Cores P, A, B, C and D+E. The American History (Core D & E) was a lot less enjoyable for my kids than the World History, and I would highly recommend that you chose the condensed version rather than to do it over 2 years.
      Hope that you find your family’s rhythmn and pace soon! Blessings!


      • Thank you, I will definitely sit down and do a bit of thinking and planning on how I can slow it down and add activities and some Core A for my 5 year old around the same topics, he can join in when we look at pictures for Core B, that might keep him interested and expose him to what we are learning. I love Sonlight too. 🙂


        • Don’t worry about younger children “floating” along an older child’s curriculum as long as you spend time with him establishing his own reading, narrating and Maths skills along with some relevant hands-on activities.
          I re-used the same Sonlight books later with my younger children and it was fresh and new for them. A Sonlight curriculum is never wasted, even when used twice!


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