MAY
05
2014

Homeschooling 101: Teaching Multiple Grades

Hi everyone! I’m back today with another Homeschooling 101 post for you! Today we’re going to talk about the inevitable teaching multiple grades all at the same time. It’s one of the biggest challenges in homeschooling, but fear not, it can be done!

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Four children = Four Grade Levels Oh My!

Depending on your homeschooling family, you may find yourself needing to teach more than one grade level simultaneously. While this may seem like an overwhelming situation, with a little preparation and patience you can successfully teach multiple grades. Here are some tips to teaching multiple grade levels at the same time.

As most of you know, we have four children, and this year has been the first year that I’ve really had four different grade levels going all at once.

I’m not gonna lie to you, it can slightly overwhelming! But with a little prep work and a few tips from this veteran homeschooling mama, we can make it work!

 

Group Work:

I suggest that you try to do as much together as possible to save time and make teaching easier.

We typically like to do our group work first thing in the morning. Then once our group subjects are completed we move into our more independent work. This helps eliminate students waiting for others to complete work so they can do something as a group. It also lets students move at a more independent pace once group subjects are complete.

We work on our Daily Learning Notebooks, Bible, Science, History, Literature, Art, and Music as a group. For the most part this works for more elective type subjects. We also do Calendar Time together for the younger students. Then move onto independent grade levels for core subjects such as math, English, reading, and spelling.

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The Balancing Act:

After the group work is completed, we move onto our individual work. We still tend to do like subjects at the same time however students will move at their own speed once you hit this step. For example, we do math at the same time even though I have 3 students working on different levels. I start off having my oldest watch her Math U See video, then she moves onto her worksheets, while the next student watches their video. I have another computer at home, so my 3rd student uses that and then moves right to her worksheet. As all the students are working on math, I stand by and supervise or help as needed.

We basically follow the same format for the other subjects alternating my teaching one student at a time. For example, I will teach an English lesson together with the older two. While they’re working independently on the accompanying worksheet, I will do a phonics lesson with my 1st grader. So it will look something like this:

  • Teach lesson to student 1 –> Student 1 does independent work associated with lesson taught.
  • Teach lesson to student 2 –> Student 2 does independent work associated with lesson taught.
  • Teach lesson to student 3 –> Student 3 does independent work associated with lesson taught.

Repeat this process with remaining lessons as needed…

As you can see I teach a lesson to one of the students, then while they’re working independently I move to the next student, and so on. Our day progresses like this as we go, alternating between me teaching and them working.

You will get more used to alternating between students as each year progresses. The kids will also learn to work a little more independently as well.

 

Independent Work.

Another key to working with multiple grade levels at the same time is to have a few subjects that are more student independent in nature. While we do not use all online or DVD type classes, I do suggest creating a nice balance between teacher led and student independent courses to help keep your sanity, and teach your students the ability to work on their own as well.

 

 

Want more information? Check out Homeschooling 101: A guide to getting started!

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If you’ve missed my previous posts make sure to check them out!

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Comments

  1. Great post! We have 5 boys and I have never done group subjects before. It has caught up with me now though! Next school year they will be grades K, 2, 3, 5, and 7! I’ve fallen behind some this year with their quizzes. (The curriculum that we’ve always used has quizzes each Friday) Starting next year we’re going to be using My Father’s World so everyone will do all subjects (except Math, English, and Spelling) together. I’m so excited but very nervous about it too! Do you block out all housework, etc during school time? I have trouble balancing it all!

    • I have been using My Father’s World for the last four years with my four kids and we LOVE it! It is a great curriculum focused on the Bible and discipleship. It’s been such a good fit for our family. We do chores and math first then group stuff late morning or after lunch on the couch. Love those afternoons of reading and talking. Precious but short years!

  2. Great post!! Love these tips! We are finishing up our second year homeschooling and next year I will have a 4th grader, 1st grader and a 3 year old. SO I have been trying to figure out how I was going to manage it all. These tips will help so much in my planning.

  3. Great post! We tend to do things the same way here, I even use a lot of your daily notebook pages (along with some others) and call it our Morning Binders which we all do together first thing. My eldest is in 6th this year so he’s pretty much on his own most of the day unless he needs help, I switch between my 3rd grader and K’er as needed all during our lessons. I keep the two of them pretty close together so that this is easier for me. We’ve tried a few subjects together and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but it’s easier with the younger two ;-)

  4. Just a quick question on how you handle “interruptions” from the children who should be working independently when you’re teaching a younger individually. Mine always interrupt with, “Mom, I need help!” and they make it sound so urgent. It breaks the concentration though and adds to my plate spinning feeling. I try to tell them to wait patiently and I will be with them shortly. Would love to hear your tips for how you’ve handled this :)

    • Cheryl,
      This may not work for everyone but it helps in our house for interruptions. Oh, and I have 2 children, ages 7 and 11. If I’m helping with one child and the other one has a question, instead of coming and interrupting me and distracting the other child, he will ding a bell. You know the kind you see at stores or hotels to ding for assistance? Ha! Also, I have ‘extra’ independent activities for him to do if he’s stuck until I get there. That way he doesn’t get completely off track and start building Legos! Not that that’s a bad thing, we love Legos! I have created a ‘Busy Box’ for each child in the event that I need them to be working independently. The Busy Box is specific for each child’s age and contains various educational activities. I’ve shared my Busy Box idea with several homeschooling friends and they have been very appreciative! Best of luck!

      • Thanks, Sheila! Would you mind sharing some ideas for what’s in the busy box (I have four boys and one little girl; my oldest boys are 9 and 7).

    • I kindly remind them they need to wait their turn and not interrupt. Sounds like you’re doing the same already! It just takes time, after awhile of being consistent with that they’ll learn to wait. I do have a “Mom, I Need Help” chart I used to use when my kiddos were younger, here’s a sample of that: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2010/04/mom-i-need-help.html

  5. I love these ideas, and they particularly work well when you have textbook-based curriculum for multiple grade levels. We’re struggling trying to figure out how to do multiple grades (6 children, currently 4 different grade levels, ages 4, 5, 7, & 8) when I use very teacher-intensive curriculum that doesn’t have a lot of independent work. All About Spelling, for instance, is almost 100% dictation and teaching from me, and no worksheets at all. The same for Institute for Excellence in Writing lessons, Sonlight Read-Alouds, Apologia science read-alouds and narration, Story of the World narrations and projects, etc. Sometimes I wonder if doing a textbook-based system is actually best for larger families. There are only so many hours in the day. When I first started homeschooling I found myself gravitating towards all of the most teacher-intensive programs and books, but that’s kind of coming back to bite me now as the only worksheets/independent work we have is Bible and Math U See. Maybe we’ll have to look into some more Abeka- or BJU-type programs.

    • Faith, I am with you (we have 5, ages 9, 7, 5, 2.5 and 6 months). I recently ordered Steve and Teri Maxwell’s book, Managers of their Schools (from their website, titus2.com, I think). It is all about why they went with a textbook approach for schooling their 8 children. Like you, I try to do things as a group (I like Sonlight’s read alouds, and we also use Apologia for science, and the Child’s History of the World). But it is very labor intensive. Next year, I think I am going to try putting the older in A Beka for their core subjects, use Math U See for my oldest, and then just have a read aloud time in the afternoon….more like Erica’s system, too, and see if that helps (especially with having a toddler and a baby!).

  6. Would you mind if I used this link in my round up for those “Considering Homeschool?”
    Rachael @ http://www.parentingandhomeschoolinginfaith.com

    Also, if you have any other articles you think might be helpful, please send me all the links. I will promote this post all over my social media & many bloggers will get some great exposure :)

    Thanks in advance!

  7. I love your desk/workbox setup. Do you mind sharing where you got that setup?

    Thanks!

  8. Thank you for sharing a great article. I love the idea the one woman has of a busy box and really enjoy reading the comments from other big families. We have 5 children, 8, 6, 5, 3, and 1. And this coming school year we are going back to homeschooling so I’m trying to get everything ready. The distractions scare me, with having 3 girls who will be constantly needing help, but I think teaching them patience to wait their turn is a great life lesson.

    The organizer in the middle of your table I found at Michaels a month ago for 60% off and I saw it the other day for 40% (or 50%) off. I love it!

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