There’s no quicker way to feel overwhelmed as a home educator than homeschooling two or more students at the same time. Talk about having a one-room schoolhouse!
It can be challenging, but as a homeschooling mom of six, I’m here to tell you that it can be done. Keep reading for six ways to manage your time between multiple kids in your homeschool.
1. Get the older students started with work that they can do independently
Depending on their ages, your kids could be writing spelling words, practicing their penmanship, reading quietly to themselves, reading aloud to younger siblings, or even doing some chores while you work with another child. Helping older children to be more independent is good for them and for you. Being able to stay on task and work independently is a skill that everyone needs.
2. After getting your older kids started, take some time to read with your younger children and do some engaging activities
When you spend time with your little kids, you are able to fill their emotional needs and they won’t be as needy when you are occupied with the older children later.
When I was homeschooling my first five children, I created a little preschool environment for my youngest children. I made sure that I had activities and snacks prepared the night before so I was ready to go in the morning. Changing the activities and toys on a daily basis kept the children’s interest high and they were able to occupy themselves while I worked with an older child.
3. Have everyone do the same subjects at the same time as much as possible, even if they are at different levels
My children all did their math, science, and daily Bible readings at the same time. We sat together at the dining room table or in the living room and I helped each child as needed. When kids are working on the same subject matter, it is less distracting to hear someone discussing the topic than it would be if one child is doing math and another is working on grammar. Additionally, you only have to have all the materials for that subject out at one time, rather than all day long.
4. Utilize audio books to help you cover read aloud selections for your students
I am a Charlotte Mason homeschooler. That means we have a lot of books that we read each term. Currently we have 16 books that we are reading. My son is not yet able to read all of these for himself, so when I am running short on time I go to trusty old Librivox to help me get the reading covered.
We often listen to a reading selection while I am working at my computer. You can use audio books to entertain your younger students while you work with an older child. Audio books are also great at allowing you to cover literature while everyone is in the car if you have a lot of outside activities.
5. Use educational videos and websites to do some of the instruction for you
Make sure that you have previewed the videos or websites prior to using them. I particularly like the YouTube channels PE with Joe/The Body Coach and Coyote Peterson’s Brave Wilderness. One of my favorite websites is National Geographic Kids for anything geography related.
6. Lighten your load by doing less and simplifying as much as possible
What exactly does that mean? When I had five children ages newborn to age 10, I realized that it wouldn’t hurt my children if we pulled back our academics for a while (a semester or a year) to the basics (math, reading, writing, and spelling). We didn’t join a co-op, and we limited our social activities to low-commitment activities to reduce stress on me, the main educator.
Don’t worry that your kids won’t learn enough if you temporarily lighten the educational topics because they will continue to learn all sorts of things that you do not have on your education plan. You may even want to organize your children’s schoolwork into a four-day school week.
In the same vein of lightening your load, try to simplify as many of your non-school activities as possible to free up more of your time for teaching your children. In my home, this means that I make certain meals on certain days of the week, do certain household tasks on certain days of the week, and I have daily routines to keep my home running smoothly. Putting necessary tasks on auto-pilot conserves your energy because you aren’t constantly reinventing your schedule.
In short, to manage your time between multiple students you need to view your job as a home educator as any professional job where you apply management and efficiency to the tasks at hand. Good luck and happy homeschooling!