At home learning with kids of different ages

At home Learning with Kids of Different Ages

Parenting

Whether you’re homeschooling or doing online school from home, having more than one child complicates things.

But don’t worry! Use these tips to make your at-home school day go more smoothly for both you and your kids.

Plan ahead for school

Especially if you’re homeschooling multiple kids and using curriculum from online, it’s essential to have a game plan. Not only will this save you a ton of stress, but it will also help you make sure you cover all your learning objectives for each child.

You don’t necessarily have to cover each subject every day, but you’ll want to hit everything at least a few times a week. Math and some form of reading or writing should be covered pretty much every day (it’s okay if you miss every once in a while) because they require the most consistent practice to hone skills. You can hit science, social studies, music, and art for elementary school just a time or two a week.

Basically, you’ll want to look at your curriculum and figure outpacing. If you have a math textbook, you might cover one “lesson” or “chapter” a week. You might choose to do “unit studies,” where you cover one subject or story in-depth for a week.

Stay organized

There’s not much more stressful than wanting to start school for the day and not being able to find your materials. It makes things much easier to have a special place for a school.

Ideally, have a designated workspace meant especially for school time. Keep essentials like pencils, paper, and any workbooks there, and don’t move them.

If you’re using math manipulatives, make sure those are kept separate from toys. That way, there’s no panic about finding what you need in the middle of a lesson. 

If you don’t have room for a special classroom, no problem! Just use the kitchen table or counter for your workspace. Keep a shelf or cabinet especially reserved for school materials, and put them away (preferably out of reach of younger kids!) at the end of the class day.

Keep other kids occupied during Zoom calls for classes

If your child is doing virtual school and has younger siblings who want to jump in on Zoom meetings, make sure to keep them busy with something fun. While a little screen time can be a lifesaver in these situations, there are also lots of ways to encourage younger kids to play independently.

Fold other subjects into your writing assignments

It might feel like you have a ton of subjects to cover, and schoolwork can quickly become overwhelming for you and your kids. Fortunately, you can combine subjects.

If you’re talking about citizenship or the postal service, for example, use the opportunity to have your child write a letter to someone and address an envelope (younger learners can dictate their letter to you and then draw a picture to go with it).

If you’re learning about the circulatory system, words like “heart,” “vein,” and “artery” can all be spelling words.

With a little creativity and practice, you can make writing assignments more fun and meaningful by connecting them to other parts of your child’s schooling.

Don’t forget free play outside 

Kids need time to play outside to reset their bodies and minds back into learning mode. Free play, where they choose what to do themselves, is the best way to give them a break (plus, it counts for physical education!).

Have one child work while you explain a concept to the other

Your children will most likely be using two different math curriculums and be practicing different sets of skills. Set up one child (preferably, the one with the easiest lesson), and then turn him loose to work. While that child is working, then teach your other child what they need to complete their work. Staggered teaching like this is great for math, spelling, and writing.

Don’t be afraid to use two different math curriculums based on your children’s personalities

If you’ve ever tried to choose a math curriculum, you know how overwhelming all the choices can be. But if you have two kids with different personalities, don’t be afraid to choose different curricula for each of them, maybe something more structured for a more concrete-thinking child, and a more word-problem based curriculum for an abstract thinking child.

Workaround nap times

If you have younger kids who are still taking naps, use this time to your advantage. If your toddler happily plays while your older kids do school, great! Otherwise, let everyone play in the morning, and then pack as much school as you and your kids can handle during naptime. 

Make younger siblings feel special

If you have a toddler or preschooler who isn’t officially in school yet but is interested in what older siblings are doing, give him something that he can call his own. I have my son an extra composition book (with his name on the front) and his own workspace with crayons. He was very pleased!

Use coloring to fill time

If you have younger learners, don’t underestimate the value of coloring. My second grader will often need additional instruction on math, while my kindergartener is already done with her work. Letting my younger child color her worksheet while I teach the older one gives me extra time. 

Teach the exact same lessons to both kids (in certain subjects)

You can often combine lessons such as science and social studies. For example, an older and younger student can both learn about the digestive system. Discuss and work at the appropriate depth for the older child, and your younger one will still learn and be able to participate. 

While it takes a little practice (for you and your kids), you can succeed in guiding your children’s home learning. Use these tips to help you get there.

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