As a momma who’s been homeschooling awhile, I’ve found quite a few ways to streamline things. Here are some of the ways I make the most of the time I invest in teaching for everyone involved.
Teach some subjects every few years
You know how some college classes are only offered every other year? We do something similar in our home school. When it comes to high school chemistry and biology, I’d rather teach it as infrequently as possible. So I routinely clump kids of different ages together in the same class. Our oldest two daughters (who are two years apart) did biology together one year and chem together another year. Our next two kids (also 2 years apart) studied both those subjects together as well. And at the moment four of my kids, plus a friend, are studying chem together. In most cases it really doesn’t matter if you study biology your freshman year or your junior year, as long as it shows up on that high school transcript someplace. And often kids can help each other out as they plow through a subject together.
Pair several classes
Another place I like to double up is on writing and other subjects. Makes complete sense with literature, right? But I also often combine handwriting with Bible memory work and essay-writing with history. This year we are working through American history by having all 6 of our kids write essays about important figures during various time periods of American history. Each month we focus on a different time period. To squeeze in speech class as well, after those essays are written, I have kids read them to the family at the dinner table. Reading an essay to your family may not be as stressful as presenting to a group of classmates, but it is definitely a chance to flex those speech-making muscles.
Set pairs of kids up to learn together
This year I discovered a really great free-to-download geography program called Seterra. It drills kids on cities, states and countries all over the world. I routinely stick two kids together to on a computer, taking turns. This does two things. First, since the program grades you by accuracy and speed, it sets up a fun competition between the two kids playing. Second, a child can learn during his sister or brother’s turn as well as during his own– and I’ve noticed it is less stressful to learn from sibling’s errors than your own. 🙂 I am delighted with how much geography my kids have learned this year with this program. I do try to keep an eye on what topics the kids pick to learn first, though. Once my youngest girls spent several days diligently studying the provinces of South Africa. Doubting that was crucial knowledge for age 9 and 11, I suggested they learn all the countries in the world first. 🙂
Capitalize on interests
One final way that I like to double up is when I notice a kid is interested in something and is doing some investigating on his own. If a teen is interested in becoming a police officer, ask him to investigate common paths to becoming a police officer and write his next report on that topic. Topics that a kid is already interested in are often painless to investigate further and can still satisfy a teacher’s need to get a few essays written during a semester’s time.
Are you a homeschooler? What types of things do you combine to make your homeschooling get done more quickly and easily?