Teaching multiple ages. My first thoughts went something like what Todd Wilson’s might be:
- Babies–put them in the swing with a good dose of sleep inducing music.
- Toddlers–send them to the backyard with a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a big spoon.
- Elementary kids–Buckle them to their little school desks making sure their hands are free to write down the answer to every problem in every workbook–correctly.
- Older kids–Banish them to their separate rooms to mope until their work is done with threats of having to baby-sit the others if they don’t.
Okay, I am totally not serious, but some days we just wonder how we can teach all these ages all at the same time. Well, the beauty of home educating is that you don’t have to do either–you get to do them:
- You don’t have to teach: A lot of learning is done without you specifically setting time aside to instruct. Learning happens in living life together. What kind of learning? Older kids learn how to interact with younger ones; young ones hold conversations with adults; everyone learns how to be on the same team working toward the same goals, and they all learn to serve and love each other. You get to teach whatever you choose as a family to learn.
- You don’t have to teach all at the same time: While I am working with Caleb & Mercy on phonics, Hannah is working with Joshua on science, Christopher is reading to Hope, and Jonathon is working with his computer math tutor. And then we can switch subjects and partners. Other days, Mom is doing her computer work right next to the table where all the independent students are gathered around doing their assignments while the younger ones are playing games nearby. You get to teach all at the same time as you gather together to study the Bible or history, or read aloud their favorite books.
- Multiple ages can mean multiple challenges. It can also bring multiple blessings as we multiply our time in prayer. Then we certainly see God multiply our creativity. (I think I am finally learning my multiplication tables). Okay, I’ll stop now.
- No matter how you multiply it, you can do it. What Johnny doesn’t get today because you are working with Susie, he will get tomorrow when you are working with him. Do as much as you can all together. Being together as a family reading and talking and laughing and learning–it can’t get much better than that!