5 Things to do when you start homeschooling after a break

The start of a new homeschool year is just weeks away for many of my readers.  Here’s What Worked for us when we started homeschooling after a long break ~

1.Prepare

Start with a basic overall year plan for each child.    I like to plan my year with a page for each month, listing each subject and I break down the themes or topics for each month.  This plan also serves as my record of work.  

Print out your notebook pages, copywork pages, and/or lapbooks.  Store your topics and pages  for your work in files ready for each child.  Copy or create an index page for each subject or topic or lapbook activity to go with your overall year plan.

2. Practice sleep and wake up routine

A good morning starts the night before.  Re-establish simple bedtime routines a few days before schooling starts.

3. Pace

Gently ease into your schedule.  Start with the most exciting aspect of the course to ignite everyone’s enthusiasm.  Usually this is the Core reader or spine of your curriculum.  But don’t overdo it.  It is far better to start with short, sweet lessons and stop, leaving your children begging for more!  Short, sweet lessons serve as a wonderful motivation.   Kids love to feel that they can master their work and eagerly look forward to the next day.  Include quick, fun games in your school day.  The Amazing Arrow game is fantastic!

4. Perfect one area before moving on

Focus on one skill/ habit/ subject until it is mastered.   Break down each subject into manageable skills and encourage your child through each step.  If your child feels anxious or overwhelmed with the full schedule, work on just one new subject for about a week before adding another subject.  Sometimes, we focused on just one subject for a whole week to get to grips with the subject matter, the new skill or the lapbook or hands-on project.  Don’t worry about “falling behind”.  Simply focus on the lagging subject for a few days, and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can catch up and flow into a new routine.

5.Read Aloud

Read alouds are the superglue of homeschooling and build a sense of unity and a focus.  Read alouds are relaxing, yet, with a child listening attentively, provides enormous learning experiences.  When in doubt, when if your kid has a melt-down or when mom feels burnt-out, stop, snuggle together and read aloud.  All will be fine.  They will learn.  Trust the learning journey through living books.

I hope these tips help you work through your transition days when you start your new school year.

Blessings, Nadene
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Mix Structure with Freedom

What Works! 

Homeschooling, like all things in family life, requires balance.

Some folks love the carefree and loosey-goosey approach to homeschooling, while others perfect a strict routine and discipline with a school-at-home approach. Some folk wake and start school early, while others flow lazily into a relaxed, informal day.  Some families work in a classroom environment, while others love to learn everywhere, anytime.

Whatever your homeschooling approach is right now, it should fit your family lifestyle. I encourage you to find the way that works for you and your children in this season of your life.

If you’re a mom with lots of young children, then I encourage you to create a simple  predictable routine for their day.  Mix in free time for unstructured play and exploration.

Here are some of the main family events that should follow some form of predictable routine ~

  • Morning wake up, washing & dressing
  • Making beds
  • Breakfast
  • Start homeschool time – circle time or Bible story, songs & prayer
  • Short, sweet seat work lessons
  • Tea time and short outdoors play time
  • Core and read alouds and other schooling or learning
  • Lunch time
  • After lunch nap or quiet play
  • Free afternoons
  • Clean up & pack away toys from the day’s play
  • Bath time
  • Supper
  • Bedtime

Habit-training is a vital part of creating an easy, stress-free day.  Work on your routine, focusing on one aspect at a time for several weeks until this is established. (Start with the routine that causes you the most stress and frustration in your family.)  Once your children can cope with that routine, move on to focus on the next area that causes you the most stress.

Many new homeschool moms have very high ideals and expectations.  Most new homeschool moms struggle to maintain a formal, strict regimen every day, and they can easily burnout.  May I suggest that your homeschooling plays a minor role in your day when you are teaching young toddlers, pre-schoolers.  If you are working with multiple ages, focus on the most needy first and then focus on the rest.

Truth be told, you can’t do everything with every child every day!

Especially when children seem bored, frustrated or aimless, look to switching the rhythm and approach of your homeschooling.

  • Change the routine and start with subjects that you normally do later in the day.
  • Change your homeschool room or learn somewhere new/ outside/ at a library
  • Change your approach and make things fun
  • Switch to a new activity such as a lapbook or project instead of reading a read aloud that just doesn’t “fit” you or your kids.
  • Do drills or physical movements instead of seat work.  This works really well if a child is struggling with a subject like maths or spelling!  Rather do jumping or skipping or ball tossing or jump on a rebounder while doing skip-counting or times tables, spelling,  etc.
  • Leave the workbooks and find hands-on activities instead.

Charlotte Mason perfected this switch of rhythm with her principles ~

Structure and discipline (Seat work lessons)

  • Short, sweet lessons
  • Perfect / excellent quality work
  • Attentiveness and discipline
  • Memory work and copywork

Informal and unstructured approach (while still requiring focus and attention)

  • Narrations
  • Fine Arts
  • Poetry
  • Nature Study

I found that having one FREE DAY worked for our family.  Although I say “Free” it was rather an INFORMAL day where we focused on Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays.  These days made the rest of the week feel better and help prevent burnout and stress.

What works for your family?  Please share in the comments below.

Blessings as you find what works for your family, Nadene

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3 things NOT to do when planning

“Help me!  I always over-plan, over-buy and become overwhelmed when planning my new year!  What should I do?”Reader's Question logo

In answering this  reader’s question, I remembered my early years and the terrible stress, anxiety and fear that consumed me when planning a new year.  After years of homeschooling and finding what works for us , here is my simple encouragement ~

Don’t over do it.

  • You don’t need to cover every . single . subject . for . each . child.  
  • Combine your kids for all the Bible, Core studies, Read Alouds and Fine Arts wherever possible.
  • Start with a good Maths, Spelling & Dictation, and a Reading/ Phonics program for each child.  Then add a family centered Core.
  • Gently add all the extra subjects such as Fine Arts and Nature Walks once your kids manage the basics.

Don’t spend money on curriculum or supplies you are not sure you will use.

  • Don’t buy under pressure that you “should” or “must” do programs, or  purchase programs all the other moms are using.
  • Put those orders on a wish list and let them wait there a while until you have peace and rest in your heart.
  • Find FREE downloads instead.  You can download stacks of my Free Pages to cover Handwriting, Copywork, Nature Study, Biographies and a full Famous Artist & Musician studies.
  • There are so many free Lapbooks and Unit Studies out there, but, again, don’t download and print out too much!  See #1.

Don’t make a rigid schedule.

  • When I tried to follow an over-full schedule, I felt overwhelmed, especially when we “fell behind”.  
  • Create a wide margin of time to explore, discover, follow other tangents and pause and reflect on the subject matter.
  • Give your children options.  They don’t have to everything!
  • View the schedule as your guide and not your strict task master.
  • Follow the 4-Day Week schedule and give yourselves one “free” day for fun and Fine Arts.
  • STRETCH out  the curriculum over 18 months instead of 12 months.  It really doesn’t matter what “grade” your child is following each year so long as they are working on their level and working consistently.

I hope that this encouragement helps settle those nerves and make your planning seem simpler and easier.

Blessings as you plan, Nadene

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First days back 2 school

Many moms around the world worry about the first days of school.  Homeschool moms worry about starting homeschool too.  And new homeschool moms worry even more.

May I offer some gentle advice?

  • Just start slowly.
  • Don’t try do the complete schedule.
  • Ease into your schooling.
  • Go gently.

Just remember that the professional teachers spend much of their first weeks of school doing orientation; they hand out new books, explain note-taking, give an overview.  They don’t jump straight in with the full program.

Here’s some tips that I still use after all these years ~

Set up your school area the night before (I like to do this as a surprise for the kids!)

  • Put tables, stationary and books/workboxes/or files in order.
  • Write a welcome note on the whiteboard or prayerfully write to each child and place a personal note on each child’s place.
  • Arrange the CD and music player ready with your song or praise and worship for circle time.
  • Get into a simple “Early to bed & early to rise” routine.  Chat and pray with each child before bedtime.

On your first day ~

  • Wake half an hour earlier than the family, make yourself a cup of tea, have your quiet time and pray.  Commit your plans to the Lord and surrender all to Him.
  • Gently wake the kids and get them into their morning routine and chores.  (I like to have a “test-run” a day before school and start the school morning routine a day earlier than the actual day.)
  • Have a simple but nutritious breakfast, or go ahead and make it something special!
  • At the agreed starting time, start school.
  • I like to start each year in a circle or on the couches.  Start with a chat about the year, the themes, some planned highlights and goals.  Let the kids talk about what they expect, what they are afraid of, what they look forward to.
  • Then pray about all these things.
  • Sing and learn a memory verse for the week.  Make it fun!  Chose something really simple and easy.
  • Now chose what you will do the first week.  Either just do some basics3Rs (Maths, Reading and Handwriting) or just do your Core (History, Literature study)for the first week.  Tell them that next week you’ll add the rest of the subjects, but this week they must just do their very best with the easy schedule.  (They may beg you to do it all!  If they seem relaxed and the work done was excellent, then, by all means, do your full plan.)  If things are really awful and stressed, just cuddle and read a story together.
  • Include a lovely tea break with some healthy snacks.
  • Plan some fast fun & games for in between lessons if children get fidgety.

Create precious memories from these moments ~

  • Take some “First Day” photos of each child.
  • Prepare a special breakfast.
  • Ask Dad to give a “Welcome To School” speech. (My hubby is our homeschool “Principal”!)
  • Give each child a small gift – some stationary/ stickers/ new hair accessories for their first day.

I trust this encourages you.

Blessings as you prepare and plunge back in, Nadene

Twice Exceptional

I came across the term “Twice Exceptional” while reading Gifted Voices.   I had to look up its meaning:

“Twice exceptional (or 2E students) are sometimes also referred to as double labelled, or having dual exceptionality. These are gifted students whose performance is impaired, or high potential is masked, by a specific learning disability, physical impairment, disorder, or condition. They may experience extreme difficulty in developing their giftedness into talent.”

When I studied Remedial Education, I quickly realized that many children with learning difficulties were often gifted.  Once I started teaching, I also recognized that many gifted children presented behavioural problems, often similar to those of children with learning difficulties, due to their boredom and frustration with the school system. They often struggled to fit in and seldom discovered their unique gifting and wonderful abilities.

Describing 2E children, TKI explains,

“Gifted students with disabilities are at-risk as their educational and social/emotional needs often go undetected. Educators often incorrectly believe twice-exceptional students are not putting in adequate effort within the classroom. They are often described as ‘lazy’ and ‘unmotivated’.  Hidden disabilities may prevent students with advanced cognitive abilities from achieving high academic results. 2E students perform inconsistently across the curriculum. The frustrations related to unidentified strengths and disabilities can result in behavioural and social/emotional issues.”

Because a child struggles with their uniqueness or outside-of-the-box, or have different social-emotional needs, they struggle  in the conventional school system.  Many parents face the dilemma  of whether to stick to the school system or to homeschool their gifted or twice-exceptional child.  My advice is that you look for a place where your child can thrive, grow, learn and “become” in the most supportive, loving environment, which is usually at home!

Homeschool parents can tailor-make their educational approach to work with their child’s strengths, while gently encouraging them to strengthen areas of weakness.  Because you work one-on-one with your child, you can immediately determine where and when your child is bored or struggles, and adjust your pace or approach.

You can seamlessly include motivation, opportunities, therapy and remedial activities as part of your homeschooling for children with illnesses, disabilities or disorders.  Most remedial therapy is presented as games, and often children enjoy these fun activities.  Therapy varies.  Most children initially require therapy regularly, but as they master skills, these activities can be moderated or stopped.  Some children perform better with a therapist, because they may resist or refuse at home, while most therapy requires regular “homework” or practice.  Whatever your approach, try avoid instilling in your child a sense of failure or disappointment, or that the child has, or worse still, is a problem.

Homeschooling your twice exceptional child helps you establish a steady routine which is important when dealing with complex problems or disabilities.  Parents can establish a  healthy or specific diet as well as good sleeping patterns, and these routines and practices are often very helpful in assisting a 2E child.

Most importantly, your homeschooled child is allowed to progress at his/ her own pace without feeling that he/she isn’t the same as the rest of the class.  Avoid comparisons at all costs, not even one child with another in your home.  Avoid labels.  No one wants to know that his/ her person is a medical/ behavioural disorder.  Speak of their condition in positives, “My daughter loves to move … to learn well.”

Try find a homeschool family or support group that you and your child can cope with and where you find grace and encouragement.  Having a “different” child can often make one feel isolated and insecure.  Support groups are very helpful to assist parents who often feel overwhelmed and discouraged.

My youngest daughter would probably have required remedial therapy when she was young, but my husband, in such wisdom, encouraged me to let her be and to encourage her to learn in her own time.  We patiently persevered and it has wonderfully paid off.  From a struggling emerging reader, she is now our bibliophile and most avid reader in our home!

It may not seem like it now, but you will see your child grow and develop into the most marvelous person that they were created to become.   Do not give up!

With all grace and blessings, Nadene

Highschooler Needs

I’m sure many homeschool moms feel insecure about homeschooling their child through the high school years like I do?  Coping with important subject and career choices, teenagers’ growing need  for independence, as well as their raging and extreme emotions can quickly bring a mom to her knees!  But let me encourage you to keep homeschooling to the end ~

  •  Accept the confusion and guilt as part of this phase.  You will feel like you didn’t do enough, that you failed in so many ways, but try not to dwell on that, because you have time for relationships which is the cornerstone of your reason to homeschool.
  • Feast your eyes on the amazing person that is your high school son/ daughter. Consider the many good things about that person, and recognize that you influenced some of that wonderfulness. Enjoy the person, cherish the moments, treasure the memories you are making.
  • You still have an impact on this wants-to-be-autonomous-but-still-needs-mommy child. It’s not too late to help them in preparing for independence by encouraging more and more responsibility and self-reliance.
  • Give them the space they need to test their wings while they still have the safety of home. Show trust where you can, and try not to hold the reins too tight. Easier said than done, I know…
  • Be physically affectionate.  Hug them early and often; when they wake up  and hug them before they go into their room for the night. Hug them in the middle of an argument. Hug them “just because” throughout the day.  It is impossible to hug too often!
  • Talk with them as often as possible, and better yet, let them talk to you about anything and everything. Avoid criticism or correction about what they say — just let them vent, or exclaim, or explain — and then you may nod and say “mm-hmmm.”  Give an opinion only when asked. Be available, and willing, to listen.
  • Expect their frustrations because they all sigh, fuss or yell, “why should I have to do this stupid school work”.  Try not to nag; it may be time to let them experience some natural consequences of not getting things done on time. When in doubt of how to respond, see #3 and #4.
  • You need to help and support your senior highschooler through critical transitions like writing final exams,  completing applications for college or university, or writing up their CV or resume and preparing for and attending job interviews.
  • Plan on celebrating graduation. Make it a big deal and celebrate, even if it is only a special family meal, eating out at a nice restaurant, or holding a small gathering for cake and photographs.

Enjoy your high school senior while you have them with you, and then watch them take on the world. It’s a wonderful thing to be part of.  I wish I could say that things get easier now, but I know that you are already aware that parenting is a lifetime endeavor.

Blessings, Nadene

Adapt Adjust or Amend your Approach

Image result for adapt and overcomeMost moms have a pretty good idea of how things should be, especially when it comes to homeschooling.  I recall, over 18 years ago, when we considered homeschooling, visiting 2 homeschool homes and thinking how we could make homeschooling work for us.  Then I bought the bell-and-whistles-full-curriculum package for each child and I, in my idealistic hopes, thought that this was a guarantee for success.

It wasn’t.

When we started homeschooling, my eldest child, starting grade 4, resisted, refused, fussed and struggled about the work, and instead of taking it really slow, and cutting back the work to  a more manageable load, I pressured, punished and persisted in my attempt to “make it work”. It was a disaster and I felt like such a failure, not only as a teacher, but as a mom.  You see, homeschooling is a relationship, and when it doesn’t work, for whatever reason,  relationships suffer.

Here’s my advice —

Find what works for your child in your home.  Adapt, adjust, adopt, add, and amend your approach to fit your child’s  learning style and needs.

Please remember that the curriculum was created by an individual, no matter how clever or qualified, who prepared a package for the average child and the general aims of the educational institution.  It will not suit every one, all the time.  When it does not suit your child, or your family lifestyle, or your parenting style, work with what works and adapt or adjust, abandon or ignore the rest.

Yes, you may put the book back on the shelf that no one enjoys, or stop halfway through a project that causes meltdowns, even abandon the package if it doesn’t meet your family’s needs.  Pushing on will not achieve much if your children resist.  It will seem like you are pushing a huge boulder, in pouring rain, up a muddy mountain path!  Well, that’s how I felt many days … I sat in tears and wondered what was wrong with me or my child.

Improvise Adapt and Overcome Quote #4574931

When I finally found the courage to follow my own leading and use the schedule and package as a guideline,  I felt such a relief.  The peace and joy returned, and my kids began to flourish.  The less I pressured, the more they blossomed.  The more informal I became in my approach, the more they absorbed and contributed.  The more I simply offered options, the more my kids created and expressed themselves.

A homeschool education is never about learning information.  It is about relationships, life skills, character and values.

I know a few homeschool moms that have several unused curriculums and packages sitting gathering dust on their bookshelves.  It is an expensive waste, and often they speak of the guilt of their impulsive buying.  I would recommend you create your own version of homeschooling with what you already have.  Adapt it or add to it.  At the very worst, sell the stuff you really can’t use and use that money to make more meaningful purchases.  There are wonderful opportunities on Facebook groups to advertise and sell your unwanted stuff, and to buy books and programs, second-hand, for good prices.

It is easier than you think to create your own eclectic package for your children, and there is a lot available for free on the Internet.  You simply need to find what they need to learn and offer them the options.  Give your children options, choices, a wide and generous education.  Find what delights them and let them lead the way.

Don’t despair when things are imperfect.  It is simply a signal to adjust, or amend your approach.

Blessings, Nadene

 

Working Independently Yet Responsibly

A reader recently asked ~

“Do you have any ideas when dealing with boys?  My son (11) to be a different learner, wanting to be more independent and do things on his own, which I am fine with and would like to encourage, however he keeps putting everything off and doesn’t want to be told when to learn….”

Your son’s desire to work independently often occurs when children, both boys and girls, move into their tweens and teen years.  The trick is to find the balance between independence  and accountability.  

I believe that independence is given through trust that is earned by repeated responsible behaviour, and so my teen children gained more independence when they regularly worked up to standard.  

I have written several posts on High School and independence here and here, and the tips and advice that I share below applies to high school ages, but you can apply most these points to your independent learner, whatever his age.  Here’s what I found works for us ~

  • Collaborate and decide together what subjects/ topics/ themes/ courses/ or programs your child wishes to cover.  When you provide delight-directed subjects, he will definitely be more motivated.  He may still have to cover other compulsory subjects to meet your country/ state’s education requirements, but if the majority of his homeschooling focuses on his interests and passions, he should co-operate with you.
  • Plan and schedule his subjects and determine his goals and deadlines. Create a basic timetable and a year plan.  Once you schedule his chapters/ lessons/ and topics over each month, this will form your basic year plan.   You can plan your child’s work on  Google Calendar or Homeschool Tracker or in a Spiral Notebook.
    Google Calendar
  • Keep track and record his work. Provide your child his own checklist so he can keep track of his own work.  I use my year plan for my record of work and created space to write comments, marks and dates.
  • Allow your child freedom to choose what and where he wants to work, providing he achieves a certain standard of work.  (Lying on the floor or bed to work is fine for some subjects, but is not effective for written work.) Teens often want to work in their own rooms.  Privacy is important, but, again, they need to demonstrate their responsibility in order to earn your trust.
  • Be flexible yet consistent.  Independent learners should work at their most efficient times (maybe later in the mornings or in the afternoons), but they should work regularly.
  • Set the standards and encourage your teen to raise their standard to meet the requirements for high school.
  • Be firm about how their work is presented or how detailed their notes should be.  Phase this in as they start their new work.  Encourage them to improve as they master the basics.
  • Very Important — Schedule regular accountability sessions with your independent learner.  Start with daily meetings before schooling starts, to discuss the schedule and his assignments.  Sign-off his check lists and discuss and evaluate his assignments at the end of the day.  Once he has accomplished his assigned tasks correctly and independently, you can meet to sign off his work once a week. These accountability sessions should be friendly, but focused meetings.   They are essential to building trust in relationship so that he can work more and more independently.  For example, if a child skips work or produces inferior work, re-schedule the assignment for him to do/ redo.  It is good to sit side-by-side and talk about the work, rather than simply tick pages with a red pen.  Quite often these discussions are an excellent opportunity to evaluate your child’s understanding, their focus or ability.  I make notes in my record of work when we meet.   Please read Heather Woodie of Blog, She Wrote post Fostering Collaboration With Morning Meeting Time.
  • Mom, you need to be consistent.  Keep an eye on your child’s progress.  Don’t skip meetings or forget to have daily or weekly meetings, because, before you notice, your child may fall behind or skip work altogether!  I “dropped the ball”  when I lost track of our middle daughters’ progress in her first year when she worked independently.  If I skip weekly meetings, some tasks fall below the standard.  Children need regular checkups with the necessary encouragement or suggestions to upgrade and improve in their work.
  • Never stick to something that simply doesn’t work!  You can adjust the course as you go along.  Find alternatives such as a study group/  a tutor or an online course where there is conflict between you and your child.
  • Tailor-make your homeschooling to include a variety of subjects such as life skills and entrepreneur options.
  • Ensure that your independent learner avoids obvious distractions such as cell phones, social media notifications, computer games etc.  My hubby insisted that our children put their cellphones in our bedroom at night until after 2pm the next afternoon, so that they had undisturbed sleep and homeschool without temptations of constant online distractions.
  • Above all, maintain a heart-to-heart relationship with your child.  Remain interested and involved in your child’s interests, passions and friends.  Even though they seem to “push us away” in their desire to become independent, they still want and need us in their lives.  Listen to their music, watch their games and videos.  Read aloud to them, laugh with them, pray with them.  Despite your changing role, this is still the most wonderful, intimate way to educate your child!

Dear mom, your child’s desire to work independently is actually your goal!  Our role as homeschool moms is to facilitate our children to become independent.  We need to prayerfully and graciously learn how to move out of center stage and stand in the wings of our emerging young adults’ lives.

Wishing you much wisdom and grace as you work through your son’s transition.

Blessings, Nadene

 

Best Homeschooling Decision #3 Free Day

Right from the start of our homeschooling journey we kept to a 4-day week.  Sonlight presented this as a planning option and it was the one thing that saved me from complete burn out in my first year of homeschooling.

I’m glad I realized that we could homeschool “only” four days instead of every day.

We often used our “free day ” for doing our weekly shopping,   There was nothing really educational about many of our free days, but it was the day available for outings, going to the library, meeting with friends, or playing in the park.   I scheduled at least one free day per month for some educational activity.

Let me be completely honest here … we took a day off for shopping every week because we lived so far from town, but, now and then we took another day off for homeschool outings and meetings.  That meant that sometimes we took 2 days off our week!  And do you know … we still didn’t fall terribly behind!  Somehow we  fitted in the week’s work in 3 days.

Our “free day” P1170201also became known as fabulous Fine Arts Fridays which was a delicious day of art, appreciation, art activities, listening to classical music, reading or listening to poetry,  and most importantly, relaxing together in the world of fine arts.

Free days were excellent for catching up on work we skipped or books we needed to catch up.  We also watched  related YouTube videos or historical movies on free days.

A free day is vital to ~

  • soothe stressed moms
  • unwind tense kids
  • fill your lives with a rich culture
  • give you time to catch up when life interrupts the schedule
  • offer a variety
  • present new opportunities and experiences
  • fit in all the extras that make homeschooling wonderful!

Plan free days in your schedule and enjoy your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

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. https://i0.wp.com/cdn.playbuzz.com/cdn/080b7af9-e3af-4297-915b-a233e2dc525b/e2529190-88ba-4505-8235-cc022e25a0bf.png

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