By Meagan McGovern
I led a workshop recently called, “Homeschooling children of different ages,” and some of the moms there asked me to sum up my thoughts and send them some links, so here it is!
First: The easiest things to teach, or or to “do,” in a group of differently aged kids, are art, history and science.
The little kids will get something out of it, the older kids will get more, and some kids will get a lot out of reading books out loud. There are a few different curriculum that lend themselves well to different ages.
Story of the World: It’s not really a curriculum, but it’s sort of the “go-to” series of books for homeschoolers. Some people love them, some people hate them, but they’re a good jumping-off point. The local store Launching Success has them, or you can buy them on Amazon. One of the best ideas is to buy them on CD and have them on in the background all the time. It’s really just a bunch of interesting stories.
The best part about it? So many people use it that there are TON of resources and ways to use it. Here’s a link to a website that has so many lapbooks, activities, movies and such that your kids will never be bored.
Sonlight is a Christian curriculum that now has a secular version. We love both versions, though we’re not Christian. We have used it for years, though it’s hard to really explain. It’s really just an instructor’s guide and a list of really, really good books about a certain time period — the middle ages, colonial America, or ancient Greece. You can use their instructor’s guide and stick to their timeline, or you can just use their booklist as a rough guide and go from there.
We’re using Bookshark right now for my 5th grader for the Eastern Hemisphere studies, and even though he claims to be “anti-school,” he loves it. The books are some of his favorites.
Unit Studies are another good way to bring a group of kids together. If you’re all learning about outer space, or the human body, or sea creatures, it doesn’t matter if your kids are two or 14 — it’s fun, and they’ll be interested. There are literally thousands of ways to do unit studies, but this link will get you started.
Project-based homeschooling is another great resource. Kids who are a little older can spend every afternoon entertaining themselves with their projects. It’s very child-led, and lends itself to work in almost every setting and with every curriculum.
Another favorite for people with young children is Charlotte Mason. Her books and method of homeschooling are gentle and easy to use with multiple children, and it gets kids outside every day for nature studies. There’s a great resource at Ambleside online to get started.
Easy Peasy is a homeschool site that I want to love. Lots of people do. I find that it focuses on boring, workbooky stuff, and my kids hate it. But I keep going back to check it out, because it’s free, covers everything from K-12, and would be a great way to keep kids busy if you were really at the end of your rope. It’s super Christian in focus, if that matters to you.
This lady has the best homeschool stuff online, anywhere. She has a history curriculum that can’t be beat, and an anatomy one as well. If you’re just looking for a movie for your kids to watch so you don’t feel guilty, or something to keep your kids busy without buying curriculum, start here. She has incredible resources. She has science, math, geography, and an incredible list of movies.
Online curriculum, games, and websites:
If you’re going to buy any kind of online curriculum, start here.
The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op has everything, and they have cheaper than you can buy it on your own. It’s also a fun place to check out free trials, see stuff you might not know existed, and wonder at how much amazing software is out there.
Headsprout is what all of my kids used to learn to read, and it works. There are other programs out there that probably work just as well — we just got used to this one, and we like it. Don’t pay full price for it. Wait until the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op has a sale!
Starfall is free, and a great reading/math tool for little ones — probably up to about second grade. All of my kids have used it and loved it.
And, of course, if all else fails, there’s Pinterest. You will get sucked in, and your day will be over before you get off, but it’s a good way to find some new ideas.