I have six boys, ages 12, 11, 7, 5, 3, and 1. I have to teach algebra, phonics, advanced grammar and simple addition simultaneously while also cleaning up messes made by the toddler, breast feeding the baby, and keep the washing machine running. Well, ok, the baby is no longer breast feeding, but it wasn’t too long ago.
Some days I think I’m going to go crazy. Some days I am crazy.
One of the challenges of homschooling is teaching many ages at once. Here’s what I do to attempt to cope with it all.
- Have a sense of humor and perspective.
- I do my best to train the older ones to follow directions from their books and work out the lessons for themselves. They still need a lot of help and direction, but they are getting better at being self-sufficient.
- I write up assignments for the older ones that they follow, checking things off as they go. This way they don’t have to ask me for new direction between each assignment.
- All of them are taught with varying levels of success to not interrupt, but to wait patiently while I finish helping another child.
- I give the toddler a workbook.
- I turn on the TV when I’ve had it with the little ones.
- I don’t worry too much about the messes the younger ones make during school time.
- The younger ones are done with their work earlier than the older ones, so I use the time later in the morning to go over trouble spots in math and grammar and to check the work of the older ones.
- I use grades, at least on tests and quizzes, which encourages the older ones to work even when they are not being supervised directly.
- We use a point system. Good behavior and good work earns points while poor behavior or work, loses points.
- And finally, I keep plugging away at it in spite of a certain level of chaos.