This past Tuesday I had the privilege of sharing the best of our helpful homeschool habits for multiple ages with a group of homeschool mamas. I promised them that I would put these all in one handy spot. And I have – so you, my readers, can enjoy them too. I have also included the sprinkling of photos and collages from this homeschool week – those habits in action!
~ Warning – While the strategies are simple, this post is extra long because it is equal to a two hour discussion with fellow homeschool moms. Feel free to pin for later!
I am a very practical person. And I am blessed with homeschool mentors. So I am sharing the simple strategies that have worked best for us over the last fourteen or so years of homeschooling.
We homeschool multiple ages. We have five children – three girls and two boys – ranging in age from six to 17. It’s the first year in over 14 years I haven’t homeschooled a preschooler! So, this year, I have two high schoolers, a middle schooler and two elementary learners.
1. Keep Your Priorities in Order
- As a Christian mother I aim to put God first, my husband second and the children come after that. Having a quiet time is a must. Getting that alone time with God first thing in the morning is my arsenal for the day. I know you know how important this is too.
- My husband and I were a family before we have children. We make a point of having some time to sit and talk either right before supper or right after. Just the two of us. So we can hear about how the day went. We also make it a priority to have a weekly date night. Ours are usually simple and inexpensive – we even have date nights at home.
- Next, the children. Which is what we are focused on for this topic. We do want to raise Godly children, disciples. We want to educate them well. Bring them up to love the Lord. He has entrusted us with these children. I like to think of this time with the urgency of Moses’ mother. She knew that Moses had to go to the palace when he was roughly age five. If you knew that, wouldn’t you have an urgency? At the end of the day when the dishes are put away and the children are tucked in bed – truly what matters is each child’s relationship with the Lord. Raising children is a God-given privilege and folks, the time is short.
2. Practical Prayer Throughout the Day
When I was a young mother, I used to think that if I didn’t get off in my little quiet time spot in absolute silence, that I truly didn’t have a quiet time. I have learned that there are seasons, my friends. Some days are all about survival. The quick, always going up prayers throughout the day.
Please give me wisdom!
I learned that I can have an attitude or lifestyle of prayer. Breathe in His grace, breathe out praise, breathe in His wisdom, send up a prayer. I have a series of three posts on practical prayer:
This little, pink Book of Prayer is a collection of Stormie OMartian’s Power of a Praying… books. I spend a portion of my quiet time with this book almost daily. Sections for prayer for myself, for my husband and individual prayers for each of the children.
Ask the Lord to bless your homeschool – I have made a purposeful change. I have been asking the Lord to bless us. Because He has shown me in many ways this week “…you do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2
Tapestry of Grace books for all our ages. Elementary science. Love that Pumpkin Patch Parable! And Presidential Penmanship has been a big hit with my high schooler who didn’t think he had good penmanship. Many thanks to Annie Kate for her review at The Curriculum Choice.
3. Lasagna Learning
How do you homeschool multiple ages/grades? Well we have a homeschool method that I like to call lasagna learning. We start with a generous helping of prayer, next we layer all those helpful homeschool habits, then we stir around the 3 Rs on five levels. After lunch, we sprinkle the wonderful spices of enrichment.
- Purposeful Planning with a Weekly Homeschool Planning Meeting – Along with our habits, our weekly planning meeting helps build the ‘bones’ of our homeschool days. Our family meeting with all our children gives us an outline for the week ahead. There are so many benefits to this time together. I briefly mentioned our meetings in my Family Homeschool Planner review and it prompted questions.
- Weekly Homeschool Planning with Multiple Ages – Expanded – We are expanding our weekly homeschool planning meeting. Why? Things are always changing at Hodgepodge: our children’s needs, moving into older grades, more accountability needed. This year our eldest three children simply needed to SEE all their subjects and practice scheduling their time.
An Overview in Helpful Homeschool Habits for Multiple Ages
Before School Checklist – But you might be wondering how we get going in the mornings, what a typical day looks like in our homeschool. Little ones, middle ones and older ones.
It’s the daily laundry toss by our youngest. Service opportunities are part of the before school checklist.
This handy checklist is now such a habit we don’t even look at it posted on our chalkboard. I discovered this guideline from HSLDA and Everyday Homemaking‘s Vicki Bentley. Bible and morning quiet time are included. As well as all the regular sorts of reminders like brushing teeth, making your bed, clearing your spot at the breakfast table and even getting dressed.
- How to Start a Homeschool Routine – Here is a simple run down of what a typical morning might look like for our younger two.
- Little Ones First – I start teaching time with the little ones. Special math, phonics and a little fun Rod and Staff workbook time.
- The Three Rs for Multiple Ages – Of course the three Rs are each subjects children need individual attention in. And each of our children have math, English and writing studies specific to their grade level that we work on each school day.
Did you have a productive Saturday too? “Play is the work of the child.” Maria Montessori (this photo is an example of all those morning room times and how they taught each of our children to play independently and gave practice for independent learning. He built all this on his own while the rest of the household was busy too.)
How Morning Room Time Builds Learning Skills for Later – Morning Room Time is the habit that blesses all ages. It’s how I can be in two places at once! Both helping our littlest ones and helping the older ones with math or some other subject. Plus, little ones learn how to play quietly, by themselves for a short span of time. This is an important skill. Having some quiet, alone time allows your little one the opportunity to work on small motor skills, build attention span and learn the contentment of playing alone. Do you see how this is a gift in a busy household? As my children have grown, I see so many other skills they have that stem from the morning room time habit.
A few more things during/after lunch – Apologia Science, Answers in Genesis Homeschool Pilgrim’s Progress, Manners Made Easy.
4. Adding in the Extras
We love the extras – you know, ART – so much I wrote a series!
- How to Fit in All the Extras (One More Thing After Lunch) – the habit that started it all
- How to Fit in All the Extras and Survive (even more on extras)
- Homeschool Enrichment
How to Fit in All the Homeschool Extras – Five Day series
- Day 1: How to Fit in All the Homeschool Extras: What are the Extras?
- Day 2: How to Fit in All the Homeschool Extras with Unit Studies
- Day 3: How to Fit in All the Homeschool Extras: Time Management
- Day 4: The Homeschool Extras Within Sight
- Day 5: Declare an Extras Day!
Afternoon Quiet Time for All Ages
Are you ready to put your feet up and relax? I am! Afternoon quiet time is our longest running habit at over a dozen years. Today’s layer gives a spot of quiet for all ages. Back when my first toddler outgrew her nap I wondered what to do. See, I needed that time. Why did she outgrow her nap when I had an infant? Afternoon quiet time was the answer. (This includes links to three other posts which answer reader questions).
I love fall! Stopped by the local park for just about 10 minutes with my eldest on the way home from keyboarding lessons.
5. Have Coping Strategies
- When You Want to Scream Just Sing (Part 2 of the Habit of Hymns) – We all have those moments. The overwhelming, frustrating time of wanting to yell or scream at the top of our lungs. Well, I’ve found one way of diverting the irritating. When you want to scream, just sing. Turn it to praise!
- Just Step Outside – Sometimes when it’s been a full day. When the patience is tapped. Or the noise is a bit much. I step outside. Just for a minute. And I take it in.
- Hot bath at the end of the day!
The best things are nearest…light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
6. Praise at the End of the Day
- You Are Special (10 Habits for the Family Table) – Celebrate Every Day (You are Special Plate – pictured above) “Why not find something to celebrate every day? A lost tooth, an extra measure of kindness, diligence in school work or finding the long-lost library book.”
- Mad, Sad, Glad – a dinner conversation starter game. “The game also gets everyone talking, allowing us parents to help the children to work through some emotions we each face daily. Reflect on the day. We might even remember something we’d already dismissed in our minds.”
It was the girl car this afternoon. Extracurricular, mom taxi, Hodgepodge homeschool.
I have found – after years of practice – that it is best to group extracurricular activities into one afternoon. That way you have the promise, not only of just having to be out one afternoon, but also you have the promise of other days at home to get school work done. AND you save money on gas!
All our best habits and helps for Homeschooling Multiple Ages in one spot – includes science for multiple ages, math for multiple ages, how to start a homeschool routine and much more!
More on Teaching Multiple Ages
- Morning Room Time – updated last year
- What About the Little Ones – Building the Morning Room Time Habit in 10 minute increments
- What is on a Room Time CD? – Part 2
- How to Make a Room Time CD – Part 3
- What About the Little Ones – Preparing for a New School Year
- Helpful Habit: Little Ones First
- How Morning Room Time Builds Learning Skills for Later
- I Can’t Homeschool Because of the Little Ones
- All our Hodgepodge Curriculum Choices – the curricula and resources we have used over the years
Many thanks to these kind hostesses (I’m linking up!):
- Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners
- Finishing Strong – Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years
- Weekly Wrap Up – Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
What ages do you homeschool?