Using A Classical Homeschool Education with Multiple Ages

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We’re heading into our fifth year of homeschooling, using Memoria Press from the very beginning. Initially, I experimented with a few other things (All About Reading, Five in a Row), but have finally realized that Memoria Press has everything our family needs.

classical education

When you take a look at Memoria Press’ core curriculum, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed, especially if you have multiple children.

You may be thinking “How in the world would I get all of this done? Latin in 2nd grade? Cursive? Greek Mythology? Preschool? EEEEK!”

classical homeschool curriculum

This summer, we’ll be kicking off our new school year and using 3 different Memoria Press core curriculums – 4th grade, 1st grade, and Preschool. I’ll show you how we juggle all of the chaos in our home and still handle schoolwork.

homeschooling multiple ages

Tend to the smallest students first

Daniel is still small enough to be content to sit on my lap for a while during phonics lessons, but it won’t be long before he’s off and running like his big sister Maeve. I’ve learned the hard way to start with the little guys first, while the big kids are brushing their teeth and getting dressed.

We have special toys, activities and books that only come out during school time. I spend a few minutes reading board books, playing simple puzzles and singing fun preschool songs with the young children before getting started with the big kids.

Take frequent breaks

As much as I’d LOVE to power through my homeschool days, our level of success is directly related to the number of breaks we take during the day.

We usually tackle a subject {like math or phonics}, then take a break. If the weather is nice, I send the kids outside. If it’s too cold, we jump on the trampoline or work on a floor puzzle together. These brain breaks help us to prevent everyone (even Mom) from melting down.

homeschooling multiple ages

Utilize meal times for reading aloud

If you take a look at some of the Memoria Press lesson plans, you’ll see lots and lots of fantastic literature selections. I wanted to ensure we made time to read all of these amazing books, but I was having a hard time fitting it in among juggling the children, math and phonics.

Enter meal times.

My children LOVE listening to me read, and while mealtimes in my house can be chaotic, the kids always quiet down to a dull roar when I’m reading.

I serve them their meals, then we settle in for a while to read. As part of Rachel’s American Studies, we enjoyed Leif the Lucky and will be working on Columbus next.

thomas science

Make the lesson plans work for YOU

The lesson plans are a guideline or framework, not the cardinal rule.

Have a kid that loses her mind about spelling or alphabetical order? Put it aside for a period of time.

In our world, Rachel struggled with spelling, despite being a fantastic reader. Instead of wearing myself out with daily battles over spelling, I opted to postpone it. It wasn’t worth the meltdowns and tears, just to mark it off on the checklist.

Now, after taking a break, I’m thrilled that Rachel doesn’t fight about spelling and even finds it fun.

Take a look at the lesson plans and decide on your ‘must dos’. For us, it’s math, phonics and Bible study for the boys. Anything else is bonus.

Combine subjects when and where you’re able

Having a large family while homeschooling is both a blessing and a challenge.

For the first few years, I thought that every subject had to be seperate. You’d find me pulling books to study apples with Rachel, while the boys were exploring different types of houses. All this, while pregnant, nursing a baby or chasing a toddler.

That was crazy.

Now, I lay everyone’s lesson plans out, and see what overlaps. Instead of hopping all over the place, we all explore the same subject.

We study apples {or pirates, or horses, or ocean life} together as a family. We enjoy what we’re learning and have fun. Everyone is working on their own level.

If we’re studying horses, the boys can dictate sentences to me about what we’ve read and draw a picture, while Rachel can write a well crafted paragraph about what she’s learned. She can practice her reading skills by reading picture books aloud to the younger children, and the boys can help the smaller children play with quiet toys.

We’re studying something other than math or phonics, and learning about relationships with others. My kids are gaining insight about conflict management, sharing, taking turns, leadership and more, right in their own home.

homeschooling science with multiple ages

What are some subjects you can teach to multiple ages?

Bible Study
Science
Social Studies
Latin
Music
Art

You’ll have to give up your thought that everyone will be on the same level. It doesn’t happen. But, I know that even the littlest students in my house are soaking up what’s true, good and beautiful from listening to our group lessons.

Consider Creative Scheduling

It took me 3 seasons of homeschooling to finally accept that trying to cram a school year into a nine month, Monday through Friday schedule just wasn’t going to work for me and my family.

We’ve moved to a year round schedule over the past year and I love it. Since I’m a mother who works outside the home, this works for us and is a breath of fresh air.

classical preschool

Some families follow a traditional school calendar, others school year round like us, and others do block scheduling. Take an honest look at your calendar and family rhythm, then explore an option that works for you.

No two families look the same. Why should our homeschools be any different?

You can consider block scheduling, loop scheduling, year-round homeschooling, Saturday schools and more. Do what works for you, not what works for your neighbor.

Resources for planning your classical homeschool:

Loop Scheduling

Trying to figure in where to stick the extras? Loop scheduling is your new friend. Take a look and let Pam show you how.

freeplan
Plan Your Year

I’m blessed to have Pam as my good buddy, to help me make more sense out of a chaotic schedule. The resources in Plan Your Year help me to create my year-round schedule, 2 to 3 months at a time.

AJU-1500All Jazzed Up

Looking to bring a sense of peace into your homeschool, instead of worrying all the time? It’s high time you met Sarah Mackenzie. Start with the audio MP3 for All Jazzed Up, then move on into Teaching From Rest. This will revitalize your homeschool thinking.

3dbookimageTeaching From Rest

Accept the Fact That There Will Always Be Gaps

Do you ever STOP learning?

No.

Each of us has gaps in our education. One of us may be strong in math, while another excels in history, another in literature.

You’re not going to teach your children EVERYTHING. I want to give my children a strong foundation in a few subjects, going deep rather than wide and shallow.

rachel and daniel

Relax and Relish the Relationships You’re Building

If I could go back and talk to myself before I started homeschooling, I’d tell the rookie homeschool Dianna to R.E.L.A.X. {I’d also give myself a big dose of humility, but that’s another story}

Homeschooling is like running a marathon, or building a cathedral. You can’t start out in a rush, and you may not see your results for years to come.

Do you follow a classical model in your homeschool? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

ChildTaughtMe

Balancing

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Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this article. I am just getting ready to start homeschooling with a four year old preschooler. I also have a 20 month old and we are planning for one more. For two years I have spent so much time researching homeschool curriculum and methods. I know that I want to use Memoria Press with a few add ons and substitutions. I haven’t even started yet and I am frightened to use this curriculum with 3 different grades, but I don’t want to compromise on curriculum. You have eased my concerns. I love learning from the experiences of others.

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