Managing Multiple Main Lessons
It takes organization, dedication and some flexibility to homeschool multiple children. The simple fact is that you are not going to be able to follow each syllabus thoroughly with each child. As a parent of five children who were all homeschooled, I can personally vouch for that! It is possible, however, to develop a good flow of main lesson presentations for your children, including creating a main lesson that can be taught to multiple age groups. Although you may feel as if you are making compromises in the teaching of a particular main lesson, the learning environment in larger families is also a rich and rewarding one. Each family will learn to develop their unique strengths and approaches to managing multiple main lessons.
I did mention above that it does takes organization, dedication, and flexibility to do multiple main lessons. Here are a few tips to organization that are simple but effective:
1. In the spring of the preceding year, take an initial look at the main lessons you will be doing for the coming academic year. I generally wrote them all down first in the suggested order from the Christopherus syllabus with the number of weeks. Next, take a side by side look ( or a worksheet if you have more than three children in academics!) at the main lessons and see how they fit together. My recommendation is that general main lesson themes should be done at the same time for everyone- for example, all the children are working on math main lessons at the same time. It keeps everyone focused on the same topic and breathing rhythm, and I found that older children can sometimes help the younger ones in a main lesson or enjoy a review of the topic. This means, of course, that you will have to be flexible and do some tweaking of the schedules as laid out in the syllabi.
2. Next, look at all your seasonal festivals, family vacations and birthdays. Work to schedule appropriate main lessons around these commitments. If you are traveling on a vacation, it is an excellent opportunity for children to journal, and learn some geography and culture in an enjoyable and relaxed way. Also consider field trips that you know you will want to do to enhance a particular main lesson. For example, if you want to visit a cave for 6th grade Geology, then it needs to be done in warmer weather.
3. Make sure that your main lessons breathe- topics like history are more expansive and math is more focused. Try to keep your lessons rhythmic and balanced for the whole family.
4. Recognize that some main lessons will simply have to be combined, shortened or done in a different way in order to have a harmonious school year. Look at those lessons that could be taught to multiple age groups, or taught in a different or perhaps shorter format. These lessons will take the most time for you to work out . It will be important to develop your plans for these over the summer preceding the beginning of your fall start of homeschooling so you feel prepared to deal with these combined main lessons. I will give you an outline below of a possible combination main lesson for teaching a weather main lesson.
5. Make sure that you have all your supplies, materials, books, etc. well before the start of your academic year. Children (especially as they get older), need to see that you are organized enough to present your main lesson smoothly and can get your hands on your materials when you need them.
6. If you have toddlers and more than one child in academic work, the situation can get challenging Those were the toughest years for me- I had a Kindy child, an almost three year old, twins in 6th grade and my oldest just starting high school work. Being well organized was essential ! Also, consider getting some extra help with your youngest children. I had a mother’s helper come in to play with the girls when I had to do harder academic work with the boys. I also had one son help babysit while I worked with another. There will be creative solutions to any of these challenges, but you need to think about them in advance.