Homeschooling a House Full of Kids without Losing Your Mind
I’ve always admired my friend and fellow Philadelphia Homeschooler, Jen. She has such a beautiful family. Her kids are obviously very bright. They’re amazing athletes. They’ve always been very respectful to me. I routinely see her older ones helping her younger ones, and I’ve never heard them complain about it.
By the way, did I happen to mention that Jen has 9 kids and is expecting her tenth?
Homeschooling can be so challenging sometimes. I’ve always wondered, “How does she do it?” I met with Jen recently to ask her that very question. Here are some tips that she’s passed on to help make her homeschool day run smoothly.
On Teaching the Little Ones: “I start each day helping my kindergartener. My younger kids are usually in the room with us. I have special toys for my toddlers that they can only play with during school time. Sometimes my toddlers can be distracting, but we’ve learned to do our lessons despite the distractions. Distractions are a part of life. Then, I move on to help my first, second, or third graders. I spend most of my time teaching this age group. My toddler naps in the afternoon which is helpful.”
On Teaching the Older Ones: “My highschoolers keep their own schedule. My goal for each of my kids is for them to take ownership of their own education by high school.”
On Teaching Middle School Kids : “I look for curriculum that they enjoy and can do independently. I’ve really enjoyed using the Tapestry of Grace curriculum (http://www.tapestryofgrace.com/index.php) for our history lessons. Our whole family can study the same topic in history simultaneously, which makes teaching easier. I give my middle schoolers an overview of what they need to be doing for the day and help them when I can, but realistically, they have to learn to wait for my help, move on to something else, or ask a sibling sometimes because I’m too busy. We use DVD’s for our writing and math lessons which are very useful. Sometimes they need to go watch one again to better grasp the concepts they are learning.”
On Newborns: “ I always take 4 to 6 weeks off after having a baby, which means sometimes we have to start or finish homeschool a bit differently from a typical school year calendar. My junior high and highschoolers stick to their regular routine while I’m taking time off. When I’m ready to start schooling again, I try very hard to get my newborn on my toddler’s napping schedule. Nursing the baby and helping my kids with school has to be done simultaneously.”
On Keeping up with School Subjects and Paperwork:
“We have a start time for each subject. We do math from 9 to 10, reading from 10 to 11. etc. That way, we don’t miss doing anything that needs to be done. At the end of the hour we stop and move on to the next subject, whether we’re finished or not. I’m done with our school day by 3pm and then we have quiet time until 4:30. My kids are allowed to have time on the computer, play video games, or watch TV at 4:30 if they’ve finished all their work and completed their chores. We make log-keeping time part of our homeschool routine every Friday. The Homeschoolers Journal (http://www.christianbook.com/the-homeschoolers-journal/9780978541309/pd/97152) has been particularly helpful for our family. I have one for each of our kids. They can put in check marks for each subject they’ve completed. The book and CD Homeschooling at the Speed of Life by Marilyn Rockett (http://www.christianbook.com/homeschooling-speed-balancing-school-family-world/marilyn-rockett/9780805444858/pd/44854) has also been a great help to me in keeping my paperwork organized. I keep all my important forms, logs, records, etc., in a portable file box with a file for each of my kids. That way when I need a copy of my son’s immunizations, I know just where to find it.”
On Keeping Up with the House: “We do a cleaning “Blitz” once a week. Every child has a room or “zone” they are responsible for. When we “Blitz” the kids run to their zone and make it as clean as possible. We also do “Room Blitz” when we know people are coming over. We rotate different kitchen chores every week. The truth is my house is not as clean as I would like it to be, but I’ve learned to work where it’s not clean. Something that has always stuck with me is this: “Let the house go! Don’t try to pretend kids don’t live here.”’
On Words of Wisdom: “Chill out for kindergarten. I want my babies to see a smiling Mommy. If I’m too focused on school, my kids will feel pushed aside. Sometimes if we push too hard, both we as parents and our kids miss out on important character lessons.”
Jen makes it clear that she is not a homeschool supermom, and it hasn’t been easy, but she has developed a system over the years that makes each homeschool day doable. Thanks Jen for sharing these tips and words of wisdom with other homeschool families. I’m sure they will be a blessing to many!
Copyright September 25th, 2011 by Gwen Fredette