HOMESCHOOLING IN A LARGE FAMILY aka TEACHING MORE THAN ONE CHILD
is part of the Write 31 2017 Challenge.
See 31 Days of Life in a Large Homeschooling Family for more posts.
Homeschooling your first child can be so fun and exciting. There is just so much to do. Many times you wonder who is having more fun! You just love homeschooling!
When the family expands
Then you get pregnant, suffer from morning sickness and have no energy for anything. Homeschooling is touch and go. Then the baby comes and sleepless nights are par for the course. Homeschooling falls by the wayside. All your idealism flies out of the window. You beg your husband to please register your firstborn at any school just so you can have some peace and quiet.
Or maybe you persist and manage to get through the nausea and the sleepless nights. But when you sit down to teach, the baby cries for you. The toddler has an accident. Your oldest Your lesson with your oldest that was supposed to take just 15 minutes stretched to one hour and you have nothing to show for it.
You think maybe one can only homeschool one or at most two children properly. Or you can only homeschool when there are no more babies and toddlers in the house.
How can anyone homeschool more than one child?!
That was what I thought too. I envied those with just one or two children and had help from the maid/grandparent/husband.
But since we have been convicted to trust the Lord with our family size and to homeschool, I needed to figure out a way to do it even as He kept blessing us with more and more children.
And so, I started researching, reading and asking questions on homeschooling forums with large families. And this is what I concluded after much experimentation.
In homeschooling, as with life, there is always more than one way of doing it. AND many times, what works in theory does not work in real life because the behind the scenes of every family is different.
So what I am sharing is what works for our large homeschooling family.
Homeschooling in a large family
1. Choice of Curriculum
This is important as I had written at length about in RAISING INDEPENDENT LEARNERS. Your curriculum can make or break your homeschool experience. In a large family setting, even more so.
If a curriculum is mom-intensive, it is harder to make it happen on a consistent basis. Unless mom has good help or dad is very hands-on. OR, if the family is willing to let everything else slide.
A mom-intensive curriculum means just that – it is very dependent on mom. If mom is sick or if mom is otherwise occupied with mom duties then everyone has to wait around for mom to get it done.
I have shared before that I love Sonlight curriculum. But it just couldn’t work for us. So I bit the bullet and used our local MOE syllabus, text and assessment books for the Primary school years. Boring? Maybe. But school got done, they do learn, and it prepared them for PSLE. Another bonus? It trained them to be very independent. And when we transitioned to Abeka Academy Homeschool, it was smooth.
RELATED POST: Raising Independent Learners
2. Set Up Systems
In my opinion, you need a Homeschool System regardless of the size of your family for the days to run smoother. But it becomes critical if you have a large family.
A caveat: in order for the system to work, everyone needs to know the system so that it is not dependent on mom again.
3. Set up routines and build habits.
Routines build habits. All productivity gurus will tell you that. Routines and habits eliminates decision fatigue for mom and unnecessary battles with the children.
Routines are more flexible and less stressful scheduling when the house is made up of little people.
Wake up, eat, clean up, school, play.
School in the early days was short and sweet. Just one hour, usually less. After that, they are free to play.
As they moved up the grades, time spent on schoolwork increased naturally. Because we are building on daily routines day by day, they also develop the stamina to work longer and longer over time.
My role also changed as they moved up the grades. I encouraged them to figure things out on their own. By the time they move on to post PSLE years, I only have to ensure that work is completed. I no longer teach. Abeka Homeschool Academy teachers take over from me. Yes!
Just keep keeping at it
I kept to this routine as much as possible until everyone is used to it. Yes, even the baby and the toddler got used to it. Everyone learns that school is non-negotiable.
And that is how homeschooling in a large family is done in our house.
Let me know if there is a particular topic you want me to cover in-depth and I will share more. And if you know a friend who could be encouraged by this post, please share it!
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