Controlled Chaos or how to homeschool four children at once

Pretending to be bats

Some people wonder how moms homeschool more than one child at a time.  There are days I wonder that as well. Occasionally our days move along flawlessly, typically it’s more of a controlled chaos, and every once in a while, well…we stop early to protect my sanity and relationship with my children.  There are always interruptions-scraped knees, hurt feelings, overflowing toilets, vomiting dogs–you know you have them too!  I’m really talking about the logistics of simultaneously educating more than one child in your home.

If you go online or browse a catalog or read books, you’ll see lovely, long lists for each grade level studying different things each year.  Veritas Press and Sonlight are two of my favorites, but if you look at how many daily hours of teacher involvement and multitply that by the number of children in your home it’s discouraging.  No way can I do four totally separate sets of curricula for my preschooler, first, third and seventh grader.

Sonya Schafer, author of Simply Charlotte Mason has a WONDERFUL website with helpful articles, timesavers, and even curriculum to use.  Her book Planning your Charlotte Mason Education revolutionized my yearly planning process.  I follow her lead and consolidate as many subjects as possible.  After making my list of everything I’d like to study over the year, I choose the ones we can study together: science, history, geography, nature study, poetry, art, scripture memorization, composer study, picture study, and literature.  Some of these we all study together and some combine my elementary aged children. We all study the same topic in history, but most of Happy Girls’ work is independent due to the amount and complexity of the reading for her level of study.  I read picture books and chapter books to my elementary aged children, and my third grader adds readers on historical topics as well.  We are on the some topic so when we tell Daddy about ziggurats at supper everyone understands what we’re talking about.

What does this look like?  Every day I have one-on-one time with each child, working on their own math, language arts, critical thinking and special projects.  I also have combined elementary science, history and writing.

We enjoy other subjects as a family, some daily, some only once a week. Daddy reads bedtime stories to the older three and we listen to books on tape in the car, all off literature list I’ve compiled.  Everyone can look at a painting by a famous artist, then try their hand at a similar style. (Both Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online have lists of artist and suggested pictures with links that save my sanity as I plan.  We take weekly nature hikes and have art with another family once a week.  You get the idea.

It is challenging to educate more than one child at a time, but with prayer, planning and organization you can both do it well and enjoy your time with your children!

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