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How do you homeschool an 11 year old, 9 year old, and 6 year old?

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There must be something wrong with me, because I know people do this (and more!) all the time, and yet I can't figure it out.


Some background: Right now my two girls are 10 and 8, and my son is 5. Last year my son went to a morning church pre-school, and this year he's going there again in a program for 5 year olds that is sort of a cross between pre-school and kindergarten.


In the fall I will have all three kids home. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm not sure how it's going to work.


My main concern is: It seems like it will take a minimum of three hours a day for me to work directly with one or both girls. What in the world do I do with my son during all that time?? I can't imagine sending him to his room alone and telling him not to come out every day for 3+ hours, nor do I want to have him play computer games for that amount of time.


As a matter of fact, I'm not sure what to do with them while I'm working with him. I'm not sure if the younger girl, especially, is able to do schoolwork alone and unsupervised for over an hour.


Along the same lines, I'm curious if others ever have the older kids "teach" the youngest. If how, what kind of thing do they do, how often, and what are some tips for making that work?


I was hoping to do FIAR, MUS Alpha, HWT kindergarten level, and phonics with him (not sure which, maybe Phonics Pathways.)


Also, although my oldest girl will be in sixth grade then, she will slowly starting the logic stage this spring (end of fifth grade).


How does everyone else do it?? Thanks?

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I'm sure you will get tons of help from those with experience.


Just wondering (and maybe this will help you think about something)--do you schedule your kids' free time now? What do they do when there is "nothing to do?"

My dd can occupy herself just fine--reading for fun, going outside to her treehouse (making small things with natural stuff, sweeping it out, decorating it, watching birds/squirrels, swinging or using her hammock...), taking the dog to the small field on the church property, writing a friend, playing on the computer (she likes to watch old Hogan's Heros programs...), etc. What do your kids do when they aren't being told what to do? I would expect them to do some of that during the school day.


I would also expect them to be able to handle some independent work, like a few math problems, some spelling words, some reading, maybe copywork or writing out a narration, and some chores. These can be given for them to do while you are working with the little one. For him, I'd expect him to do a couple little chores, and then just play.


When dd was 5, I had ds as a 9th grader. I'd set him up with a few things to do and work with her. She played close by or went to her room or whatever while I discussed stuff with him. She was able to color a picture by herself, or practice cutting out things, or paint, or play with her dolls/stuffies/puzzles/outside.


You basically go back and forth between kiddos. In your case, I'd probably eat breakfast together, then have your son tidy his room and play for a half hour or so, while you meet with the girls and go over what the day's work looks like. I'd make a list of things they can do while waiting for you, too. I'd probably have them take turns playing with ds for a little while, maybe 30 minutes each, and even give them something to do with him, like a story to read and a short math-type game or a couple of puzzles. Each day of the week, you could set up something for him and his sisters to do.


Then I'd work with him while they do math "homework," or other independent work.


Basically, no one is working alone for a solid block of an hour or more. If you list what they will be using, I'll bet people will help you schedule it. You just spread things out a bit, not doing 3 hours at once. So there's a rhythm to it--For Example--


9am--First dd starts a major subject (math, for example) while second dd plays with ds doing the together work of the day--Monday, puzzles; Tues, cutting craft and gluing; Weds, play outside (find 3 natural objects to make a rubbing with, swing, play in the snow/sand/water);Thurs, paint/color; Friday, legos/cars/measure stuff


9:30--Dds do their reading, and then work on a chore or two while you work with ds on MUS.


After MUS (20 minutes to do that?), First dd plays with ds while you work with Second dd.


After that, both dds do their math problems while you work with ds, maybe on handwriting and phonics.


Break for a snack. Then ds plays independently while you work with dds.


Then read the FIAR book to ds while they work on something.


See? Back and forth.


And so on. Back and forth.

Edited by Chris in VA
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Hi, I'm teaching a 10 yro, 9 yro, 7 yro and 4 yro this year.


It takes all day. :glare: Close your ears when you hear the, "We're finished by noon!" threads. :tongue_smilie:


I don't entertain them when they are not actively working on schoolwork. At this point in time, they're pretty good at going off and finding something to do. The 4 yro will play Barbies or drag a castle into the living room and move some polly pockets into the castle... They get used to it. The 7 yro and 4 yro will entertain each other, too.


Also, my strategy this year is to include the little kids with the older kids' classes - as much as possible. All 4 of them are doing history and science together. I also combine the oldest two kids in everything (except math and LA).


About older kids tutoring the younger kids...all the time. :) I don't force them to help the younger kids, but they seem to actually like it. I was reading to the 4 yro yesterday and my son wrote out several math problems for the 7 yro on a dry erase board. I didn't even ask - he just did it. I think the older kids develop alot of patience that way...and my 9 yro seems to be pretty good at teaching (for a 9 yro).


Another thing that helps...if I have trouble getting them going in the morning, I'll have them all get dressed, eat breakfast and then take a walk through the neighborhood (or play outside). When they come back inside, they seem more ready to get some schoolwork done.

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Here's what we do: Math and reading at the table together. Everyone does their own level and I help where needed. If someone finishes before someone else, they either read their assigned book quietly or they get a little free time. We then do science/history/spanish/logic, etc together. These subjects rotate days. My newly turned 7 year old is doing 2nd grade work and can work somewhat independently. So this may vary with your youngest. Just do the best you can do and you will find your rhythm :)

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You'll have a great routine going before you know it! When you sift through all of the advice you're bound to get, cut and paste what you think will work so that it doesn't get lost by the next great best idea.


A few thoughts come to mind:

-work on structuring just your morning first and then add your afternoon. Don't spend hours trying to create the perfect schedule because you probably won't get it right the first or second time

-by 11 and 9 the girls should be able to work alone, after having an introduction to the material. Teach the new math concept, for example, the night before so that in the morning they can just get started while you work with ds.

-do science and history together and if the children don't like that, be sure to give them just a book that they can do without your help

-if you struggle this year know that next year will be much easier because they will be older and more self sufficient

Edited by love2read
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If you work on getting your older two (or at least one of them) a bit more independent this spring, things may look very different by the fall. Even if that doesn't work, you could probably arrange some really productive unsupervised time for all of the kids by planning out audiobooks, independent craft projects, and puzzles/games. Maybe the older two could play board games while you work with the youngest? I set up very basic nature journals for my dc at the start of this school year, and when I find that I need some really quiet one-on-one time, I hand the other child his or her nature journal and a bag of colored pencils. Both of my dc are big readers, and I can always just assign some extra reading or send them off to do some free reading. I do allow educational tv during schooltime, so they are free to put on episodes of several things on Netflix while I work with the other child.

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Basically, no one is working alone for a solid block of an hour or more. If you list what they will be using, I'll bet people will help you schedule it. You just spread things out a bit, not doing 3 hours at once.




Based on what we're doing now, my guesses for what the girls will be doing next year are:



- Spelling Power

- WWE for younger; older starting WWS

- SOTW 3 (adding logic stage activities for the oldest)

- MCT LA (all components, if possible)

- Apologia science

- Piano and music theory

- Logic workbooks, at least for the oldest

- Spanish for Children A (if possible)



Boy will possibly be doing:


- MUS Alpha

- Phonics (haven't decided what yet)


- MAYBE AAS. We have the stuff. Maybe if one of the girls is interested in doing it with him.

- I will add WWE with him eventually, but probably not the first few months

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We have a 10, 8 & 5 (plus a toddler). And I work PT from home.....

The thing that helped me the most was a schedule and having their work for the week planned and ready to go on Sunday afternoon.


Feel free to check out my blog for some schedule ideas; it also shows the various curric. we are using so you can get an idea of what we are using.


It is definitely a lot of work but so worth it.


PM me if you want to chat some more.

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One thing that helps me (and the kids) is that I either write down on a whiteboard or a chalkboard exactly what each kid has to do that day, or sometimes I go through a phase where I make and print out a checklist for each kid for the day. I put down specific page numbers and everything. That way, if one child is done with say, math problems, and I am working with another child (I teach them not to interrupt), he or she can look at the list and see what can be started or done without my help.


I also go back and forth between kids, and I try to schedule things so that if I have to be one-on-one with someone then the other ones have something independent to do at the same time if possible. Usually there is always some reading that can be done independently (except for the youngest, of course).


If we get done at a reasonable time (which I set in advance) I will do something nice for them, like make cookies or take them to a playground, or play a board game, that kind of thing. This encourages them to be more diligent in looking at their list and moving on without being told to something they can get done or partly done without me being one-on-one with them (because of course they ALL would rather work with me one-on-one but sadly I haven't been cloned yet).


Hope maybe this helps you.

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One thing that I did when I incorporated my 1st grader into homeschool this year (along with 4th and 7th grade) is that I made little slips of paper with each subject's activity on them for each student, and starred the ones that needed a lot of my support. Then I physically arranged them into a schedule so that no two starred activities occurred simultaneously. So, my 7th grader would be reading independently, my 1st grader would be making fact families with Unifix cubes, and I would be one-on-one with my 4th grader, teaching decimals. Later, I would help my 7th grader with pre-algebra while the two youngers assembled mini-lapbooks about trees. The first week was hard as everyone adjusted to less of my attention overall, but after two or three weeks we had ALL adjusted.


The other thing I did was schedule outside the box. I listen to my 1st grader read early in the morning, before we get started on most schoolwork. That was she gets a lot of direct attention before the others need any. She also tends to participate in the older kids science experiments, even though they aren't geared to her. I'm sure she gets a benefit anyway.


Good luck!

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Workboxes, this is what has helped me the most, and timers for things they do independent so they know when to move on. I use a file folder box for each kid and files instead of the shoe box set up. I label the file by subject(math, geography) and put them in their boxes staggering when they will need to work with me. If we use a workbook or reading book for a subject it is always keeped in their folder. If we don't have a book the folder is empty but still the tab let's them know to do typing, math drill or whatever.. I set this up the beginning of the school year then tweak the first couple of weeks then I don't have to mess with it the rest of the year.


Here is our day broke down in 15 min sections

* listening to bible @ breakfast( bible app on iPad that reads it while we eat),

*memory work 15mins

*Start workboxes

1st file- dd 11 math (I teach the lesson, then she works alone), dd 10 typing (computer meavis beacon she does this alone 15 mins), ds 7 geography (on the ipad 15 mins) ds 5 plays with blocks/Lego


dd 11 works on math problems and other kids move on to their 2nd file dd 10 geography(iPad 15 mins), ds 7 handwriting(he does this by himself this year), ds 5 ( I do most of his files with him while older are doing their first 4 files.)


Dd 11 finishing up her problems, dd 10 moves on to 3rd file math drill (xtra online), ds 7 is usually still doing handwriting because it has a spot to draw a picture and he loves to draw. Ds 5 still doing files with me.


Dd 11 moves to 2nd file typing when she finishes math, 4th file dd 10 reading silently, ds 7 3rd file math drill, ds 5 still working with me.


Dd 11 3rd file geography, dd 10 still reading, ds 4th file math lesson with me, ds 5 plays or watch 30 min show.


Dd 11 4th file math drill on computer, dd 10 5th file math lesson with me, ds 7 finishing up math, ds 5 toontastic on iPad, play, or finish watching show.


Dd 11 5th file reading, dd 10 finish up math, ds 5th file spelling with me , ds 5 starfall on the computer now that the big kids are off, plays, iPad, or tv just depends on what he has already done.


Dd 11 still reading, dd 10 spelling with me, ds 7 playing with ds 5


Dd 11 6th file spelling with me, dd 10 break, boys playing on a good day fighting on a bad day.


Dd 11 break, dd 10 break, ds 7 language and reading, ds 5 brothering sisters.


Dd 11 break, dd 10 language, ds done with files, ds 5 looking for food.


Dd 11 language, dd 10 and both ds done


Lunch if we started early enough if not lunch happened around 12 and then we picked back up.


30 mins- history mon-wed science thur and Fri


30 mins -Art thur and Friday.


Fridays we only do math, science, art, and read alouds and on days when we don't have much time (appointments or dh off of work early) we do math, spelling and language with oldest 3 and that's it.


I am typing on iPad sorry for spelling!

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I have a 10 (5th), 8 (3rd), and 5 (K) this year, plus a baby. I agree with a PP about closing your eyes and ears on the "we are done at noon" threads. :) Our days, including lunch/breaks, are usually 4 1/2 hours or so. That said, I combine my older two in history, grammar, literature, memory work, and Latin. I keep them separate in math, and starting next year, science. I've also reworked our history "rotation" (basically not following the WTM 4-year times three cycle) so that when I do start formal history with ds#3 (3rd grade), he will be in the same time period, just using different materials.


Another thing that helps is that they all have independent work and thirty minutes of independent reading during the day (we are working up to 2 thirty minute time periods). And in the "theme" of workboxes, each child has a velcro strip of subjects, in order, that they will complete that day. So, here's a basic break-down of a typical day:


-Memory work, literature (everyone - I read ds#3's selection and then read aloud from our current novel to everyone)

-Spelling (all; the older two are in AAS 5 and ds#3 is starting AAS 1)

-Grammar (older two), ETC (ds#3)


--Break (ds#3 usually starts his break first)


-Latin (older two; ds#3 usually plays an education iPad game, watches a LeapFrog video, plays with the baby)

-Math/independent work rotation (I give a math lesson while someone is working at the table and another person is reading)




-Writing (all, though this is very beginning copywork for ds#3 ... his day is pretty much over by now, but I keep him with us doing dot-to-dot, coloring, etc. as much as possible)

-History/Science (again, ds#3 is usually sitting with us in the living room listening while playing with something)

-Art (everyone again)


It works fairly well and keeps us mostly sane. Next year might be a bit more dicey with dd being a toddler. But, we also add parts in our day with her too to get in therapy (PT/OT), reading to her, etc. The biggest help was making sure I have independent work that reinforces what we are doing for each boy (the oldest has a logic workbook plus extra practice book from Singapore Math; ds#2 has HWoT and Singapore word problems; ds#3 has HWoT, ETC, plus number/letter activities like dot-to-dots).

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When my three were those ages, I used the following general approaches:


1) I let the youngest child sleep in! The older(s) would start school at 9 (those were the days), but the youngest would sleep in until 10 or 11. Having the same bedtime for all three helped in this regard, as the youngest would enjoy sleeping in. Then, she'd roll out of bed around 10, laze herself through getting dressed and breakfast, and really not be ready to DO much until 11 or later. By then, I could get a couple solid school hours in with the older kids undistracted.


2) As much as possible, I chose curricula that could be done independently. In our home, solo work includes:


Younger kids: part of instrument practice, solo reading, math exercises, spanish, math drill, music theory (computer based), handwriting, spelling. . .


Older kids might also have: Thinkwell or Art of Problem Solving math, and many reading and writing assignments for literature, writing, math, science, history, etc.


I choose some very mom-intesive curriculum, but I still find it is perfectly possible to multi-task for 80% of my schooling days. Only a very few topics (MCT English being one, AoPS Pre-Alg for my 9 yo being another, although my older son doesn't require really ANY mom-time for his AoPS, so that is very age-dependent) require my 95% focused time for more than a few minutes a day.


Others, such as Spectrum Chem, AoPS math for the most part, EiL Lit, SonLight, etc can be done fairly well when you are multi-tasking. SL requires a lot of reading aloud time from mom prior to about 7th grade, but that can be done in relatively short time periods spread out as needed (or about 40 min/day total.)


Remember, just b/c a curriculum requires mom-involvement doesn't mean it requires you for all 40 minutes of a 40 minute daily session. Few curricula are THAT mom-intensive.


3) Combine kids as much as possible. 9 & 11 yos should be able to combine for a lot of subjects, especially science and history. If there is a subject you want/need the 11 yo to do solo, you might find some when the 6 & 9 yo can combine (science, etc.)


4) While you are doing a mom-intensive subject with some kid(s), other kid(s) can be doing independent work at the table. Pop by for 1-2 minutes (or longer) during breathers in the mom-intensive subject(s).


5) The 6 yo will likely only have 2 or so hours of school work a day. (Do NOT fall into the trap of assigning so much work as to keep the 6 yo busy while you do all the older kids' schooling!)


If you let the 6 yo start late (say 11), s/he can do an hour, then have lunch, then do another hour, then be "free" for the afternoon while you wrap up things with the older kids. A 6 yo is totally capable of playing solo in the bedroom for 1-3 hours. My 6 yo learned to be very self-sufficient by doing that, and now still ENJOYS solo time doing art work, crafts, etc, etc.

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I just wanted to come back and say I hope my last post made sense and the schedule didn't scare you away! My point in listing it was to show that if you have a mix of independent and parent lead work, you can make it work. I would also like to agree with other who said combine if you can. We combine all for bible, art, history, and science. I tried to combine dds in language, but it was more work than doing them separate. I do all of ds5 work all at one time because it works best for him and when we are done he is ready to play...most days anyway. Last year it worked best for him to do one activity with me, play a little while I worked with another kid, then another activity with me. Some days it will be a breeze and you will feel like supermom, and then other days like, I had today, you will wonder if you can make it. Lol!

Edited by blessedmom4god
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