Sunday, May 15, 2011

Homeschooling Multiple Kids at the Same Time

Many homeschoolers belong to large families, but even moms teaching just two children can be challenged by the needs of each child being so different. This is especially a problem if both kids need lots of one-on-one time to accomplish their work. The problem only worsens if a baby or toddler needs mom’s attention too. What’s a busy homeschooling mom to do?

The more kids you have, the more difficult this will be; there’s really no way around that fact. If your children are close in age, you may be able to adapt the curriculum to meet both of their needs at the same time. You could also move toward getting your kids to work more independently so you aren’t needed as much. In fact, there are some types of curricula more flexible on this point than others. Unit studies, for example, tend to be very adaptable to different ages, and of course computer programs encourage independent work. If you can get one child set up on a computer project, you’ll have time to help another with their math assignment.

Solving your problem might be as easy as scheduling a reading assignment for one child during the other child’s geography lesson, or having one child work on their own with a handwriting workbook while you do math with their sibling. Some subjects lend themselves more easily to independent work, and you can take advantage of that in your planning.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Using Unit Studies in Your Curriculum

There are as many methods and styles of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers, but unit studies is one of the more popular these days. There are several brands of curricula that focus on unit studies, like Five in a Row and Konos, but even without a prearranged program, unit studies are easy for moms to set up, fun to teach, adaptable to different ages, and kids love them.

You’ve probably even done a unit study without knowing it. Have you ever read a book to the kids and enjoyed the illustrations so much that you taught the kids a little about oil pastel drawings? And maybe the story was about a little boy at the beach, so you checked out some books from the library about seashells and seagulls, to go along with it? And taught the kids the tongue twister about seashells on the seashore? Or made the kids fish or clam chowder for lunch, since it was mentioned in the book? If you’ve done anything like this, you’ve already laid the foundations for a unit study!

A unit study is simply learning about a particular subject, whether it be grasshoppers, ocean currents, or a particular book. A unit study could be about anything, as long as you’re able to cover the material in depth and from different angles. This method is great when you’re homeschooling multiple children, because the older kids can learn about predicting weather from ocean currents, for example, while the younger ones learn about the life cycle of a fish. It’s all connected as a unit study about oceans!

Unit studies allow for superficial review of less interesting aspects of the subject matter, while allowing kids to explore particular areas they enjoy. A unit study on oceans should probably include some geography, but could be expanded to include things like scuba diving and deep sea drilling too. The flexibility appeals to moms and kids alike.