Homeschool Planning for a Large Family

Homeschool Planning for a Large Family

Homeschool planning for a large family can seem daunting. From choosing curriculum to setting up a daily schedule, there are seemingly endless decisions to be made.

The good news is that you can simplify the homeschool planning process. The key is to prioritize your goals before you begin planning.

Homeschool Planning for a Large Family

1. Plan for state requirements first.

If you live in a state that regulates homeschooling, the educational requirements of your state should be your first priority. It is essential that you meet your state’s requirements if you plan to continue homeschooling.

Don’t know exactly what your state requires? You can get the information you need from HSLDA.

2. Focus on core subjects.

The subjects that are most important to real life–math, reading, and writing–should be the focus of most of your planning. Invest the time to find math and language materials that will work with each child’s learning style.

Keep these core subjects a top priority as you plan your homeschool schedule. After completing these “real life” courses, you can fit in the less important subjects and activities where there is time.

3. Plan from oldest to youngest.

It’s a great idea to start your planning with the student who is closest to graduation. Why? Students in the higher grades have fewer years to complete the courses required for graduation and college entry. By planning for your oldest child first, you can ensure that they are on track to complete their home education on schedule.

After planning for your oldest child, move on to the next child. Keep in mind that the younger the student, the less intense your planning will likely be. For a kindergarten student, you really don’t need to worry about more than reading and very basic math (unless you want to, of course).

4. Plan for each child to do at least one subject independently.

A math whiz may be able to self-teach or use a computer program for math instruction. An excellent reader may love to delve into history on his own, with very minimal direction or time commitment from you. Perhaps you will choose to use a self-directed curriculum, such as School of Tomorrow, for one or more subjects.

Don’t feel guilty about not teaching every single subject to every child. It is humanly impossible to teach dozens of classes each day. Remind yourself often that independent learning is a great skill for every child to learn!

5. Look for ways to combine a subject for multiple children.

Try to combine a subject, such as history or science, for two or more children. Multi-level teaching means less time to plan and teach, and provides you with a ready-made class!

Look for a curriculum that offers different activities for different age groups, or use your creativity to adapt whatever materials you are using. It’s perfectly fine to allow younger children to listen in without completing the assignments that their older siblings are doing.

If you’re looking for more tips on using one text to teach multiple ages, check out Multiple Ages: How to Plan a Group Subject with One Text at Classic Housewife.

6. Follow the methods that have already been successful for your family.

If your kids enjoy textbooks, use them! If a relaxed approach has worked in a particular subject, don’t change!

It is important to remember that you don’t have to change your methods just because something new has become popular. Let experience be your guide.

What questions or advice do you have about homeschool planning for a large family?

Find more tips and inspiration in iHomeschool Network’s Homeschool Planning Guides

Homeschool Planning

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  1. The idea of doing a group study for subjects like history and science sounds very freeing for me, but it’s a little scary. I have always been a out-of-the-box curriculum buyer and I’m so afraid I’ll skip important things. I recently heard of parents who didn’t use a curriculum for history but used a timeline and gave their children more of a “big picture” look at history. What suggestions do you have for curriculum or resources that would combine a kindergartener with his big brother and sister, for example?

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      First of all, I think it’s important to keep in mind that no teacher or school–public, private, or homeschool–can ever teach everything. My goal as a homeschool mom is to teach my children enough that they can build on their “framework” of knowledge throughout their school years and in their adult lives. Perhaps this should be another post. 😉
      There are many ways to combine a kindergartner with his older siblings. The key thing to remember is that a very young student (let’s say K-2nd grade) only needs an introduction to subjects like history and science. The focus of the early years at our house is reading and math. So unless you live in a state with very strict requirements (like here in PA), you really don’t need to have a young child do much more than listen in as you read about history and science with your older children. Perhaps he could also narrate or “tell back” to you the things he remembers from the reading, or participate in science activities.
      As far a curriculum suggestions, we love Mystery of History, which is perfect for multi-level teaching. Here’s how a day might look for a family with children in K-6th grade:
      Mom starts off by reading the lesson, which is usually short and story-like. Then the older children write a summary of what they learned from the reading and add the person/event to their history timeline, while the younger children color a picture related to the story. Then mom might ask review questions of the older children, allowing the little ones to answer when they can. Next the older children can read silently from historical fiction or biographies that correspond with the time period being studied, while the younger children look at picture books about the period and discuss it with mom. (MOH lists book suggestions by age/grade level.) The younger ones can help with any project that is completed, such as making a mummy or a salt dough map or whatever.
      There are other curricula out there that are equally flexible–I just happen to be familiar with MOH!
      For science, I think my top pick would be Apologia. I have wanted to use it with my children for so long, but they prefer to work independently with School of Tomorrow PACEs. And of course, working independently may be a great option for older children, which would free up time for you to work with the younger ones.
      I hope this is helpful, and I’d be glad to discuss this more if you like! 🙂

      1. Thanks so much! You have given me something to think about. I’m thinking maybe I could incorporate handwriting into this and ditch the individual handwriting curricula I use? Now my mind is working to plan an easier next year. 🙂 I probably will pick your brain a bit more when I choose my curriculum!

  2. What great advice! It is a daunting task to teach each of our children at their different age/ability levels. I find myself learning and adapting almost as often as my children. Happy New Year, friend! May God bless you and your family abundantly in 2013! 🙂

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      Thank you, Lisa–Happy New Year to you and your family!

  3. I didn’t see the mention of planning or using the Bible as a core subject, in our household it is a VERY important aspect (let me rephrase, the MOST important aspect) of homeschooling since Proverbs says…”The Lord gives Wisdom”

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      This is a GREAT point, Lori! I do believe that the Bible should be emphasized in homeschooling, even though it is not a “required” subject by state standards. This year my two oldest children are doing Bible study independently (one is using School of Tomorrow, and the other is using LifePacs). The three middle children are supposed to be doing Grapevine Bible Study together, although I confess we haven’t kept up with it as well as I had hoped.
      I really appreciate your comment–it has encouraged me to be consistent with Bible study with ALL of my children!

  4. Mom @ Cube2Farm says:

    How do you manage little ones (babies and toddlers) while educating a preschooler? I can’t seem to figure out how to entertain the younger one while educating the older one. Nap time is the only time I have to myself and I am reluctant to let the preschooler give it up … Any advice?

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      This is probably the biggest challenge I’ve faced as a homeschool mom. I definitely think you’re wise to keep that nap time going–as a mom with little ones, you NEED that time!
      My biggest suggestion would be to keep preschool to the basics during this busy season of life. Don’t stress about doing “everything.” Many pre-K learning activities can be integrated into your daily life–numbers, alphabet, shapes, and colors can all be taught and reinforced while cooking, cleaning, traveling, etc.
      You could also try breaking up “school time” into smaller time segments. If your little ones are playing happily, take 10 minutes to practice cutting skills, for example. Or while your toddler is eating a snack in the high chair, work with your preschooler on tracing letters or sorting objects by color or whatever you have planned. These short learning times can really add up over the course of a day!
      I’m not sure of the ages of your other child(ren), but toddlers can sometimes be kept occupied alongside the older child with things like play dough, do-a-dot markers, using a glue stick to glue scraps of colored paper together, or other special activities that are kept for school time only.
      I hope these ideas will help you find solutions that will work for your family. Take it one day at a time, and remember, you are not alone! 🙂

  5. Tammy Grubaugh says:

    I am no homeschool or parenting expert. I have 7 kids that range from 19yrs to 19 months. I only homeschool grades 6, 4, and 1 at this time. We do school in a contained (with baby gates), baby proofed living room/dining room. We have laundry baskets of toys that my toddler plays with across the room. My toddler also watches Cedermont Kids Bible songs collection and Barney while she plays. I know some people have an objection to using the TV but I think the key is the bible songs, classic tunes, and nursery rhyme music, not shows with a story line. She can sing many songs. When she gets board, she joins us at the table or gets in the high chair for a snack and to color or some other toddler activity. Last year when my toddler was a baby we used a baby swing/glider, safe play areas, stroller, and arms. Some people have success with baby slings and baby wearing but my daughter would have nothing to do with it. Some days flow better than others.

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      This is very helpful, Tammy! I think “contained” and “baby proofed” may be the key words here. 🙂 And the stroller idea is fantastic!
      Thanks so much for sharing these tips–I know they’ll be helpful to many other homeschool moms with little ones.

  6. I have a list of 70 things to do with preschoolers while homeschooling older children on the notes section of my Facebook page. This is a list that I developed over several years and with the input of a couple of other moms. It made it a lot easier for me because I had older children as well. The key thing for me was having the items already boxed up and my list handy so that when they needed to change activities due to their shorter attention span, I didn’t have to stop and think of something. It was right there.

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      Can you share the link to your FB page, Tammie? It’s definitely a great idea to have things prepared ahead of time–thanks for the reminder!

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