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We have just started our fourth year of homeschooling. On the next academic year, which is going to be in the middle of this year, my youngest son will join our journey of homeschooling officially. Although he is not a full time homeschooled son,we often learn together in the evening. I can't wait for him to be a full time homeschooler. Imagining how to homeschool with multiple aged children, I try to make some preparation. Here there are.
Aim for independence
It is impossible for me to concentrate handling all of the children with different materials and capabilities. I can sit with them all, but they cannot depend on me getting focus on all child at the same time. Therefore, independence in doing daily work is really highlighted. It is incredibly difficult teaching children to be independent in learning. Not everyone has the same maturity. Whatever difficulty you face, just be patient since there will be the right time when your children will get used to be independent, especially in using their skills.
The children need to know the system and routine.
It will ease the daily schooling procedure. If you teach in a classroom, the teacher will say that it is the classroom management techniques. Don't be scared with such scary words, classroom management, that require public school teacher to join a special education for knowing what to do. Even a certified teacher will need a lot of practice with the classroom management. Remember, a homeschooling mom is not always a real or true teacher. Well, a homeschooling mom is just a facilitator to get the best learning environment. Therefore, providing the children with consistent procedure is a way to create the desirable learning environment. Some example of system or routine: Sue Patrick's Workbox System A User's Guide. Each homeschooling family is unique so that one system might work in one family but it doesn't work for others. Don't worry about that. Create your system.
Don't be afraid with difference
Many people ask me how do you handle 3 different grade levels at the same time? Do you give them the same materials? I don't always put them at the same time and I don't give them the same level or materials. There is a time when I have to put my full attention to one child and let the others do some independent work. When there isn't any independent work children can do, I would like to get focus one of them and let the others take a break. Next, they will get a turn one by one or group by group. Of course I don't do it every day. It is just an alternative. It is also impossible to cater one by one if you have large family.
However, the main point here is I try to give them according to their portion and make each child receive their special parts. Don't make the difference an obstacle to their development.
Considering sibling tutors
Using the children to help each other in their learning is similar to teaching them cooperation. The elder child might be able to help the younger child in learning. It will train the elder to be more patient and to be able to explain ideas to others. This method would be very useful for the younger child as well. The explanation of less different age person might be more comprehensive for them
On the other hand, parent should know the limit and still have the time to control their progress avoiding wrong explanation and understanding in concepts.
Knowing the age stages of development
This is the greatest tool for me to be able to differentiate my children with special treatment, assignment, and materials. Different age stage as different treatment so that their need will be fulfilled and their development will grow optimally.
There are some approaches for the kids development stages. Once again, I love to follow the classical approach which is stated in The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. According to the approach in a very brief round up, there are:
The Grammar Stage: Kindergarten through the Fourth Grade
- It is the perfect time for children to collect, memorize, and categorize information.
- This stage is also called as the parrot ages as children are great in copying and memorizing.
- It is the time to load and absorb the basic skills for the further level assets.
- Reading, writing, and mathematics have a very important role so that they are prioritized a lot.
- The content subjects still have to be presented as well, but they will run better naturally as soon as the 3 skills progress well.
- The children are not digging the information yet, but we provide them with it.
The Logic Stage: The Fifth Grade to The Eight Grade
- This is the time for children to recognize and awkward facts and exceptions.
- Children become dominant with their critical thinking to generalize, to question, to analyze, and to develop the ability to think abstract
- They start digging for information, connect the facts, and discover the relationship.
- By this stage, most children should have been able to read, to write, and to calculate basic things so that the can do further content subjects evaluation, analysis, and conclusion
- This is the time for children to show thirst of information and explanation.
- Children get more independent, both mental and practical.
The Rhetoric Stage: The Ninth Grade to The Twelfth Grade
- This is the time for children to express themselves with fluency, grace, elegance, and persuasiveness (p.465)
- Building confidence as adolescence intellectually and physically.
- There should be more flexibility in finishing longer and more serious projects.
- There is great need to read great books to build up persuasiveness
- There are 5 skills build in the rhetoric stage: formulating argument, putting arguments into persuasive order, evaluating the words used, memorizing important points, and delivering the speech.
Using the multiple age lessons beside the individual ones
There is should be separated times between the individual lessons and the collective lessons. I use the term collective since you still can do the lesson across the ages. While the rhetoric and the logic stage children can work independently, the grammar stage children still need more help. If you have some grammar stage children, you can use the world history, geography, science, and other content subject lessons for them at the same time. Of course you still have to differentiate and facilitate the assignment and scope based on each child's capability. Notebooking system is the best way for us to use in this case.
Stop being perfectionist
Working with multi age children in homeschooling makes me lost the perfectionist side a lot. We have trials and errors everyday. Every day is a revision of the previous days. We try to make better each time, but the chance might show the opposite. Like any other homeschooling issue, homeschooling the multiple age children really test my patience. It is useless to use emotional thinking most of the time. Therefore, stopping being perfectionist will make my days better.