I’ve received countless emails asking me how I organize our day, and how I manage to homeschool while teaching multiple students all at different grade levels. So today, I thought I’d share a little bit of how we do things over here…for what it’s worth anyway!

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Being flexible is key, but not too much…or it just gets crazy:

First off, I’d like to note that so far each year has been a little different schedule wise due to the ages of our children, and what extra curricular things we are involved in. In previous years, we’ve done school primarily in the afternoons during the Teeny Tot’s naptime, we’ve done it in-between nursing when we’ve had new babies, it’s been done in the kitchen, in the living room, and at the library. I’ve learned to kind of “go with the flow” so to speak which hasn’t exactly been easy for me.

I like to be super organized, scheduled, and I don’t like change. Apparently no one ever warned me that maybe homeschooling wasn’t a good fit for me! And frankly I’m thankful that they didn’t, or I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be with my kiddos everyday!

As for teaching more than one student/grade level, it’s kind of a balancing act really, so I’m not sure I can give you a step by step answer. But I’ll do my best to explain our organized chaos.

 

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Group Work:

I try to do as much together as possible to save time and make teaching easier. For us right now we do Daily Learning Notebooks, Bible, Science, History, Literature, Art, and Music as a group. It’s easier to teach one lesson with everyone obviously, and for the most part this works for more elective type subjects. We also do Calendar Time together, though it’s mostly Tinker Bell and the Teeny Tot doing it now.

 

Teaching Multiple Levels:

We also do math at the same time even though they’re working on different levels. I start off having my oldest watch her Math U See video, then she moves onto her worksheets, while Turbo watches his video. I have another computer at home, so Tinker Bell uses that and moves right to her worksheet. Then I stand by and supervise/help when needed.

It’s basically the same format for the other subjects. For example, I’ll do English together with the older two teaching the lesson together then they do their own worksheets and while they’re working independently I do the phonics lesson with my 1st grader. If it’s something each one has to have an individual lesson on, I’ll usually do a lesson with one then start them on their work, then move to the next for their lesson, then the next. And our day progresses like this as we go, alternating between me teaching and them working.

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

Next we have lunch and a little bit of free playtime, outside weather permitting! Finally, we meet back up for about an hour of history, science,music, and/or art depending on the day. I save our “fun” stuff for afternoons. We get back together after lunch and that’s usually around 1:00 pm. I chose to do science and art things in the afternoons so I’m not stressed out and rushing them through an art project or science experiment.

And yes…I get tired and don’t feel like doing our afternoon school, but I do it anyway. Because my children’s education is important and it’s my job.

How long does school take?

A full school day currently takes us about 4 hours for the older kids (3rd & 4th grades), about 3 hours for my 1st grader, and about an hour to an hour and a half for the Teeny Tot’s preschool. Since she finishes earlier than the others, Tinker Bell usually plays with the Teeny Tot while I finish with the older ones. Click here to see a more detailed account of our daily schedule.

Workboxes:

Most of you know I’ve used the workbox system for the past several years. And I have to say that it has been a LIFE SAVER! It seriously helps me stay organized during our day. The boxes allow the older kids to go through their boxes independently for the most part except ones that need me to teach an actual lesson. It also helps because I can tell them to move on to another box until I’m done helping a sibling. And it is easy to tell how much more work we have left, and when we are done. It’s also easier for me to see if someone skipped something, or didn’t do a lesson.

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Discipline:

I would love to say that my children were perfectly obedient all the time, but that just isn’t true. That said, we did have to put some basic discipline tactics in place. Our main issue is keeping everyone focused on their work. Since we do most subjects together it can be a problem if someone isn’t working diligently.

So in our home, if kids aren’t paying attention, or messing around when they should be working, then they have to put their unfinished work in a ‘homework’ pile to be completed at the end of the day. That way their poor choices aren’t affecting the rest of us, and we can all move on to our next subject and stay on schedule. I have to say that my kids have quickly learned it pays to get your work done without dawdling! Honestly, they don’t do that too many times before they realize it’s no fun to still be doing work when the other siblings are off playing!

As for keeping people focused, I think they’ve just kind of learned to tune each other out. It was very difficult for Turbo to start off, so I used to give him my husband’s shooting ear muffs to block out the noise! I wrote about it in a post called Ear Protection for Peace! I also make sure that I’m doing my job by being present in our homeschool area, available for questions, or also there to keep people on task. I remind them to keep working if they’re messing around, or in Turbo’s case, I just need to be there to actually keep him in the room. He’s one of those that will sneak out the second someone isn’t looking!

Whining and Complaining:

For whining and complaining, I think that goes away with time. When we started out, there was quite a bit of whining…”how much more work?” “Can I be done now” etc. Honestly the workbox system really helped out in that area. There’s no question now of how much work there is, how much is left, or when they can be done. They can literally see what they have to do and so that has been a life saver.

We did however make a rule that there would be no whining in class. I have their initials up on my white board, and they receive a check for each time they complain. if they hit 3 checks, then they get to have a personal meeting with Principal Daddy to explain why they had a bad attitude that day. They also meet with Daddy if they have homework as well to explain why they were messing around instead of doing their work diligently.

I have to say that after one meeting with Daddy, they don’t usually choose to complain or mess around in class too many more times after that!

The kiddos also know that if they finish their work they’re free to go play, so that in itself is great motivation!

So there you have it…my secret…LOL! But seriously, that’s how we are currently running things at the Confessions home.

It is subject to change…based on my mood…the weather…a good exhibit at our local museum…and any other extenuating circumstances.

 

Here are some more links that might help out:

 

Have some homeschooling, scheduling, or organizing tips to share? Leave a comment below!

55 Comments

  1. Hello,
    I live in Norway and I am homeschooling my 3 years old daughter.
    Here is really unusual to do not sent your children to the ordinary kindergarten after they turn 1 y.o. and you get a lot of pressure from society and friends if you don’t.
    My husband and me decided that our daughter would be home, at least until she is five (I would really like that she continues home, but he thinks is the right age to go with other children).
    You have an amazing blog, I am learning so much from it…, I am really grateful for all the information.
    Best regards,
    Maria

    Maria
  2. Hi Erica,

    I love your staight-forwardness & no-nonsense approach.

    As a new homeschooling Mom of four, this year’s schedule has already ‘evolved’ many times over. Still trying to find my bearing & come up with a schedule that works for all of us. I’ve already favourited this post so I can look at it again without the kids here.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. I have been so encouraged through the beginning of our homeschool journey from your blog! It’s not something I ever thought I would do but after the research my husband and I decided it was such a perfect fit for our parenting style/ideas whatever you want to call them. I have had resistance with my daughter on reading, she is 5 very smart but reading doesn’t come easy to her and we have “pushed through” most of it. I feel letting her decide how much each day or whether she wants to do reading would set us up for problems. It wasn’t pretty in the beginning we came back to it when little brother was napping but now she is really making strides and actually enjoying it most days. I guess this is a, glad to know I am not alone in feeling like whining is no place for the {classroom}! Thank you for all your printables and ideas. It has made it so much easier for people like me.

    Hailey @ Love, Laughter and Lipstick

  4. Wow….. You make it look and sound so easy. 🙂 Everything’s so clean, neat and organized. Do you think that pretty much anyone could home school?

    I’ve started with one of my children. After a few days now, I’m seriously wondering whether or not my ability to home school will every catch up w/ my desire to home school. I feel behind and overwhelmed.

    Well, you’ve certainly been blessed with the ability. Thanks for the post.

    k
  5. I LOVE hearing how other homeschoolers structure their days! We also have a “no whining/griping/fit throwing” rule in our school day. If a kid starts kicking up a fuss, I send her to lie down in her bed for a while. I am surprised at how often my six-year-old will fall back asleep there!

  6. I LOVE this post! And your my favorite blog. I actually have used many of your ideas and printables in our homeschool. I have to say that although I still work to balance our day with three children (peanut is 4, and the cracker jacks are 7 and 11) that balance is really the key to success. Whenever I get frustrated with the day I look back to this very post and try to see where I could improve. I love your advice so much that I can’t stop looking at your blog each evening and even add links to it in my own page and blog (which are very new). You are so straight forward and no nonsense and you show us all that it can be done. Thank you.

  7. Thank you so much for your wise words and very useful information. Also the stuff you have for parents. I started home schooling my daughter this year, Grade 1, as she fell behind at school when we moved and now there is only one school which is goverment. I have 2 younger children too. Any advice would be much appreciated: my daughter can become quite resistant to the phonics/ literacy lessons. I suspect because it is difficult for her. She is making progress but it’s awful most days and very very frustrating. Reading through clenched teeth type of thing. Do you have any tips for getting the flow back between us during those lessons? Many many thanks.

    Wendy
  8. Thank you for all the wonderful information.
    We are using many of your ideas in our day now.
    As a first year home school family we have discovered that there is always room for change and what works for one family is not always right for another.
    The beauty of home schooling is find out what works best for your kiddos.
    We now have a Kinder, 2nd and 4th Grader we teach.
    Each day is a challenge but I am grateful to have three wonderful daughters and the opportunity to provide them an education our public school system can not.
    It is a lot easier working at home for up to 4 hours then sending them to school and then having to do 2 hours of home work with them because the school doesn’t have the time to teach them properly.
    Thank you for all your information and keep up the great job.

    Louis

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