Homeschooling Multiple Ages Together: Why It's Great and How to Make It Work

One of the most common questions I get when people find out that I homeschool is- “How do you handle homeschooling kids of varied ages?” If you were to walk into my house a few years ago, here is the picture you’d probably see: older kids sitting at the table drawing or writing answers in a notebook and smaller children playing on the floor with toys, all while I’m reading history aloud from real books. Every so often I pause in my reading. We talk about what’s been read, narrate, or answer questions. Although my questions are directed to the older kids, younger kids can often answer them as well. Some of our most special times homeschooling have happened when we were all sitting around reading and learning together.

Homeschooling multiple ages

When my children were middle school-aged and younger, we did the subjects of Bible, history, literature and sometimes science together. I read aloud and then we did activities that I adapted to the various ages- lapbooks, copywork, notebooking. I had children that ranged over a six year span. This may seem like a large age spread, but including the whole family in these subjects has had many benefits. And with a little planning, including all the kids of multiple ages in learning together can be very successful.

Why homeschool multiple ages together

~ It gives us time to spend together as a family. One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that we have time to spend together and enjoy each other. Including multiple ages in learning a subject gives us that time to spend together- reading, talking, discussing.

Younger kids are exposed to higher level reading. When I choose books to read for the subjects we’re doing together, I pick books aimed at a middle level of the age span. Reading those books aloud to all of the kids gives the younger kids opportunity to hear books above their reading level.

Older kids have the opportunity to help younger siblings. Kids can learn more from teaching what they know. When we’ve read together and done learning activities together, the older kids get the opportunity to help younger kids learn, and this helps them to understand what they’re learning even better.

Combining the kids for some subjects helps me to stay sane. I like to use living books, lapbooking, notebook activities, and other similar activities in our homeschooling. I know that if I tried to do this with all ages separately, I’d be running crazy. But when I include all of the kids in some subjects, I can focus on one thing instead of struggling to keep up with four different subjects.

Suggestions for making it work

~ Have the right expectations. When you include all ages in teaching a subject, it probably isn’t realistic to expect every child to sit quietly and unmoving while you teach or read. What’s more likely is that kids can color or draw or play with legos.

Read the same books but give kids different follow up activities. Although everybody listens to the same book, the kids do different activities after reading. For example, older kids may have a written response while younger ones might dictate or draw. 

Choose the right subjects for multi-age learning. Some subjects are easier to do with multiple-aged kids than others. Subjects like history, Bible, and literature where I can pick great books and read them aloud to all of the kids together make for great multi-aged learning. Subjects such as math where kids progress through skills at different levels wouldn’t work well to use for multiple ages together.

Teaching kids together, regardless of age, can have so many benefits and has been one of my very favorite parts of homeschooling. There are so many benefits to learning together, and with a little planning, it can work for your family.

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