homeschool

how to homeschool more than one grade: a tale of four grades

I don’t have four kids homeschooling anymore. But for many years, I did.

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I have four children. Let me tell you about them.

I have a teenager, finishing her final year of high school, who is very much as independent as a college student, waking herself for early morning online classes, tracking her study hours, watching her deadlines, and getting to town for her part time job or numerous dance classes.

I have a teenager who is beginning her second year university across the country. She is taking a double major in Psychology and Latin & Greek studies.

I have a teenager who has attended five days of school for the very first time this past week. Until now, she preferred working on her pink bed in her pink room with her grey cuddly cat. She liked a consistent routine, one that she can work through at her own pace. In her spare time, she’s very social, so social that she even has her own social channel on a thriving YouTube channel.

I have an eleven year old kiddo who is presently sitting behind me, taking a chess break with a Bear Paw snack, sitting with his blankets in front of an electric heater (after he finishes his math studies). He’s loving his catapults and crossbows science kit, reading voraciously, and practices his cursive rewriting presidential quotes for a few minutes in the morning.

But once upon a time I had four kids in the same room.

I had an eight month old, a three year old sister, a six year old who just finished kindergarten, and an eight year old who finished grade 2 at a private school.

And I had all these kids in the same room until my oldest child wanted to attend grade 10 in a local high school.

What I’ve learned about homeschooling multiple grades:

Grades don’t mean much.

I let the kids know what grades they’re in mostly to stave off fear of the general public. (So the general public isn’t worried that my children are illiterate and incapable of calculating numbers, even when my children happen to be correcting the cashier on their incorrect calculations, roll eyes, while the cashier is asking about their educational gaps).

Content is deliverable across the age spectrum.

Okay, I’ll grant you that math concepts are delivered at different times for differing aptitudes. But anything related to history, science, geography, reading, or games can be delivered to the eldest and to the youngest, no matter the age gap.

Comprehension is based on the specific child, not on the grade they’re in.

The process is the same as the explanation you give each family member when they attend an art gallery or museum together. Not everyone cares about the content. Some of them love it so they ask more questions. Some of them are just nodding their heads. Some of them are very curious and have a lot of questions. Some of them tell you about something even you didn’t know because they’ve been learning about it outside of you. Some of them don’t ask anything because they want you to leave already.

They’re all different, so they’ll ask you different questions, they’ll understand things differently, so answer their questions as they ask.

If you’re looking for a history program you can share together, check out Christian-based Sonlight or its secular alternative, Book Shark.

If you’re looking for a geography book for three levels of comprehension? We’ve been using Trail Guide to Geography and enjoying the quiz style random trivia questions.

Or if you’re just looking to read books together, watch documentaries, or have field trips, you can do that together.

Aptitude isn’t determined by age.

Mental math appeared easiest to our two youngest children. Though math concepts are taught individually, they can be reinforced collectively. Word problems, logic games, card games, board games, minute to win it games–all these are useful and easily done as a family.

Reading abilities developed at similar ages, but the child that learned to read at the youngest age, now prefers it the least and is our slowest reader. Go figure.

One of our girls loved history, read all day long, knows the intricacies of British history, and decided to pursue Latin & Greek history as one of her University majors. My youngest son’s interest in ancient history propels him and his oldest sister to have chats about what they’ve learned still.

Obviously writing levels are naturally different, but incorporating the same writing prompts or projects doesn’t have to be different. For years, no matter the prompt, my third daughter wrote everything in advertising exec flare. She decorated her stories with verve and pizzazz, all the while trying to sell you something. Just before our Thanksgiving, my fifteen year old shared a page titled ‘Who Am I?’. My thirteen year old shared an existential narrative. And my nine year old shared his favourite traditions of thanksgiving. To each their own.

Communal reading time can always happen.

For years, we read in the afternoon for history, we read in the evening before bed, but now we read in the morning, before our day begins.

We have read so many books. (I am a homeschooling mama first, and a professional reader second, ha). I had a bookless, childhood existence (of my own volition). I am now caught up on children’s literature, though it took me my adulthood to do it. I love love love reading. There couldn’t be a better way to glean an education than to read read read.

Though my teenagers are less interested in read alouds as a family now, I try squeezing it in anywhere I can. I recently finished The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate with my youngest but the older two girls often hear snippets as I read. If I can promise ‘massage exchanges’ before bed, I can even read with my teenagers.

Communal community time.

Until a certain age, about adolescence, family field trips and family playdates easily happened en masse. An eight year old can lead the dress up time with toddlers, preschoolers and similar age mates.  So many times, I have heard: “Your kids play so well with younger kids.” (Because they’re used to hanging out with families, not segregated groups of same-aged peers).

When they’re young, any activity can be a family activity. Joining together to help at a summer BBQ at the seniors center, visiting a new homeschooling family of littler kids, field trips, you name the activity, you can do it as a family.

Ultimately, homeschooling four different grades means you’re engaging four different people, with four different developmental stages, and four different interests and aptitudes, but the grades? They don’t mean anything.

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<strong>Teresa Wiedrick</strong>
Teresa Wiedrick

Am I the right fit to coach you in your new home learning journey?

4 thoughts on “how to homeschool more than one grade: a tale of four grades

  1. I used to homeschool too. This is the first year in 14 years that I don’t have anyone here at home with me. It’s very strange and some days I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. 😉

    • Wow. That must be quite an adjustment. I feel like I’m getting a few evenings that feel like that too, and it is weird. Have you increased your writing activities?

      • It really is… and no I haven’t really increased my writing. I’m taking classes online full-time, so I’m just as busy as ever with all of that.

  2. Love this! I have 7 and we used to homeschool as well. I miss it a lot. I did a lot of what you discussed… especially with the grade levels 😂. Thank you for sharing!

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