You are desperately trying to homeschool three kids (or more) at three different ages, with three different interests, and three different educational levels. They all demand your attention at the same time. Or maybe while you are working with one child the others are tearing up your house or worse doing nothing. It seems you are spinning your wheels.
1. Start you homeschooling day with a morning meeting. Eat breakfast, pray, do a devotional and start your day off right. Have each child share something they learned or worked on the day before. Give out chore assignments as well as homeschool assignments.
2. Get organized. Make up a simple lesson/educational goals sheet for each child for ages 9 and up. Schedule your day or develop a routine where you do the same thing in the same order every day. Sometimes a time schedule is too difficult with multiple age groups (especially with little ones). I used to go to the library ALONE for a few hours each month to plan. Explain assignments to each child. Make sure they understand what to do and expect the work to be completed independently. For younger children, divide the schedule into daily tasks and check the work daily. Let her choose the order she completes the work. Also give them a time that work is to be completed. Teach your child to skip a math problem or any other concept they don’t understand until they meet with you. When you deem your student is ready, check his work once per week. If the work is not complete, go back to a daily check. Remember all children mature at different ages and sometimes it is not laziness that causes work to not be complete, it is immaturity or lack of attention.
3. Plan to spend at least 20 minutes with each individual child (more with your younger children). Use that time to explain concepts, answer questions, discuss independent work, or just to talk to your child.
4. When an older student completes his work (or at least part of it), have them work with your younger student(s). Or maybe before he begins, he can spend 15-30 minutes occupying a little one and you can work with a middle child. They can do flash cards or listen to a beginning reader read. Maybe they can play with play dough or complete an art project with you little one. Maybe they can fix lunch for everyone.
5. Try unit studies for science and social studies. Have everyone in the family study the same topic but at different levels. For example, your high school student is taking Biology this year and is studying Botany. Do a unit study on plants with the rest of the family. Jr. High students can do computer research or work independently in their science textbook, elementary students can check out library books. Do a family garden or let older students conduct family science experiments for everyone.
6. Teach siblings to respect the individual differences of each other. Older siblings need to be patient with the little ones. They need to be reminded that littles are curious, loud, have lots of energy and make messes. Younger siblings need to learn to be patient while their older siblings are completing their independent work. They also need to learn to respect their privacy and their things.
Teaching multiple ages is challenging, yet rewarding. And most importantly, it brings out the best in every member of your family.
Galatians 6:9 tells us:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”