Then there are the “hows?” How do I teach multiple age groups and still manage a household? In all honesty, I’m a work in progress in this area, but keep in mind that one-room schoolhouses and multiple age groups as well as non-academic teacher responsibilities are a common part of our not-so-distant past.
And there are the “whats?” What method do I use? What is the best curriculum? What is a typical day? As was the case before, there are simple answers or there are answers that really delve into the heart of the matter.
The simple answers are that we are rather eclectic; the best curriculum is the one that works for your family, and there’s no such thing as a typical day! Flexibility is a must in homeschooling!
As our family has grown and changed over the years, so has our homeschool setting. Also, as I’ve had opportunities to read more and meet other homeschool families, I’ve been encouraged to implement new ideas. That is how we’ve come to our eclectic style.
Our “Typical” Schedule
Our schedule is a bit different than many homeschoolers, I would guess, but that is part of the beauty of homeschooling. My husband and our nine-year-old daughter handle the night milking shift on our dairy farm. That means they get home between 12:15 and 1:00, so she gets to sleep in. The preschoolers are usually up at the crack of dawn. Our six-year-old daughter is right behind them. Our eight and ten-year-old boys sometimes need some encouragement, but once they’ve had breakfast they’re out the door to see that the calves get fed.
Meanwhile the preschoolers are ready to roll. Their days vary. Sometimes it’s coloring; other days it’s crafts or stories. At this point we use a somewhat Montessori style with them, but we aren’t strict about it. They do lots of playing and very little television.
Either simultaneously or right afterwards, our six-year-old begins. This past year she completed My Father’s World Kindergarten and began first grade. This was a great fit for her, and she did quite well. As she completes her assignments, our toddler and nine-year-old are waking up and the big boys are coming in from the barn. As things settle down they begin individual assignments in language arts and math. I love the ideas of the Charlotte Mason method, but I’ve found that alone it just doesn’t work for us. However, I’m a firm believer in narration, copywork and living books as well as nature study, so those aspects are present in much of what we do.
About the time the children are finishing these assignments, it’s time for our noon meal. Because my husband is usually close by, this is our main meal of the day. It takes a bit longer than a typical lunch time, but he’ll often discuss with the children what they’ve been learning. Following dinner, he spends time playing with them. This often strongly resembles gym class. Yes, soccer games have been known to happen in our living room!
Once Daddy heads back out to work, and the little guy goes down for his nap, it’s time to get back to business. The afternoon is for the subjects we all do together. These include Bible, science, social studies, art, music, read alouds and nature study. The older children also used MFW ECC this past year, and while we enjoyed it for the most part, we felt a bit tied down by it. So we will go back to building our own curriculum and using a variety of methods including unit studies, notebooking and probably some lapbooking.
And there, my friends, is a “typical” homeschool day in our household. Subject to change at any moment.
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