Dear Uncle CHiN,
How do homeschooling parents manage to work with children at different grade levels? I need help!
It can be tough, sometimes, to work with (help or teach) children of different ages
and abilities. But itís not tough for homeschoolers alone; letís face it, teachers in
normal public and private schools have to deal with many more children who have (even
if a narrow range of age) a wide range of interests, maturity levels, learning styles,
and abilities. Also, parents can have difficulties dealing with the conflicting needs
and interests of their children even if they do not homeschool their kids.
Homeschoolers often have a great benefit over school teachers and students:
cross-age tutoring is school-lingo for a proven technique that is far easier in
the home than in a school. Homeschooled children tend to be closer to their siblings
and more apt to spend time in mixed-age groups. Younger kids tend to learn from older
ones naturally, through observation and emulation; older siblings often enjoy "teaching"
what they know, and thereby learn it twice as well as before, while imparting new skills
or knowledge to their younger brothers and sisters.
But you seem to be struggling, so here are a few ideas from veteran homeschool parents:
"I try to spend a little one-on-one time in the morning with each of my children,
discussing the dayís plans and what they want to do."
"Each of us takes turns having fun with the youngest while the others are doing
quiet projects, reading, or using the computer. For example, my oldest child will read a book
to the 5-year-old while the other teen and I work on Algebra. Then I spend some time with the
oldest on Geometry while the other two play checkers. Finally, I have a great time playing with
number scales and colored rods with my youngest while my two teens do art projects and free
"My children are close together in age (2 years apart) and have always been
interested in the same topics. So far, all three of us have learned about space and dinosaurs
and such together, each assimilating facts and developing concepts in our own way, at our own
level. When I read aloud, I always read to both at the same time. Then we discuss what we read.
It works for us! (So far!)"
"When I had a third baby, life went on fairly normally for the first six months.
I was still able to do fun projects with my older two children as the baby slept in a sling.
But with toddlerhood, everything changed. I suddenly had to supervise the baby almost all the
time, so I just COULDNíT work with the older kids very often. However, that time was kind of
wonderful; my kids grew in maturity and responsibility and became much more independent, not
only in academics, but also in life-styles such as cooking."
Good Luck! Uncle CHiN
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