Homeschooling – Working With Multiple Grade Levels

Many homeschooling parents have children of differing ages to teach. Challenges often arise as they try to work with the various grade levels, and they wonder how it was ever possible in a one-room schoolhouse. If this sounds like you, don’t lose heart – you may have to implement some new strategies, but you can teach all of your children at home.

Homeschooling - Working With Multiple Grade Levels

Generally, elementary students need the most attention and one-on-one instruction as they learn to master the basic math, reading, and writing skills. Plan to spend the bulk of your school day with these younger students. Create a schedule for your day where you have blocks of uninterrupted time to spend with each one. Depending on how many children you have, this may be from thirty minutes to an hour or more. While you are working with one child, other students can be practicing their handwriting, working on a craft, or reading to an older sibling. Older students can also help by quizzing younger children with flashcards or reviewing letter sounds. With careful planning, you can have everyone working at the same time.

Science and history are the easiest subjects to teach to a group of children of different ages. Science texts such as Apologia’s Young Explorers Series can be read aloud to both elementary and middle school students; books like The Story of the World can be used in a similar way for history. Both present activities to supplement the text, although the activities for The Story of the World are published in a separate book.

You can also turn your science lesson into a unit study, focusing on one topic such as dinosaurs, flowers, or recycling. Although all the children will learn the information at the same time, the subject matter can be tailored to fit each grade level. As younger children learn the basics and complete simple activities, older students can read age-appropriate books and work on more advanced projects. Unit Studies can be purchased already prepared with outlines for each lesson and lists of required reading and supplies, or you can find some for free on the internet. You may choose to create your own using resources you have at home and books from your local library. Valerie Bendt’s book, How to Create Your Own Unit Study, provides even more ideas.

Literature-based curriculums are similar to unit studies and often constructed around a particular era in history. As the family learns about a certain time period, students read corresponding literature at the appropriate grade levels. Ambleside Online is a free literature-based curriculum on the web. Another you might want to try is the Sonlight curriculum, which plans lessons around good books and even includes science lessons. Another option is Tapestry of Grace, which divides world history study into four years that can be used with students from elementary through high school. Or again, you might choose to create your own literature-based school plan using books in the library.

Some curriculum is designed for students to work independently. If you have many younger children that require more of your attention, you may want to try curriculum created for the computer, such as Switched On Schoolhouse. Video learning is another option; many homeschoolers find that Bob Jones’ Home Sat or A Beka on DVD meets their needs.

Middle school and high school students can also take responsibility for their own learning through textbooks. Some books, such as the Saxon Math series, lend themselves to self-teaching, as they provide detailed explanations before presenting problems to solve. The students can read the text, answer the questions, then check to see if they got them correct. If they do struggle with the concept, you are still available to help them.

Although there are days when teaching multiple grade levels may seem confusing or chaotic, with some planning, organization, and a lot of determination, you can come up with a system that works for your family.

Photo By jimmiehomeschoolmom

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