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Combining Multiple Curriculum Years/multiple ages learning together


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I am really interested in learning how other mothers practically homeschool their multiple age children in an atmosphere of learning together, especially those that use the classical or Charlotte Mason method.

 

I have also read through many of this forum's similar or related posts. I have read through what different websites such as Simply Charlotte Mason and Sage Parnassus has stated in how to learn this way. But I have more detailed questions that I am finding are not being answered. If there is something on these or other homeschooling sites that would answer this, then by all means, refer the information to me.

 

I would like to know how others, who have multiple ages of children, learn together for most subjects using the CM/WTM method? This would mean everyone would be on the same history period, learning the same science, etc. Some subjects would of course be done separately like math.

 

I am interested in doing this with my children. I am thinking it could be done in a very simple, but rigorous way, but not quite sure how.

 

How do you cover the various subjects so that everyone can get something from it for their level? How do you plan your year out? How do you read the different books on various subjects? Do you choose one book per subject that everyone listens to? Do you have the older ones read extra books in a subject to supplement their learning? Or do you read multiple books of different levels for each subject to everyone (this sounds like too much)? What kind of books do you use? How do you choose books that everyone can get something from for their age? How do you do narrations, both oral and written? And how do you keep things simple while giving everyone a very rigorous education by learning together in the CM way? Lastly, how do you manage little ones with this type of learning? I presume habit training would be important here. And how to maintain everyone’s attention in learning no matter the level they are at.

 

Caralee

I have 5 children: ds(12), ds(10), ds(5), dd(3), dd(2 months)

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I would like to know how others, who have multiple ages of children, learn together for most subjects using the CM/WTM method? This would mean everyone would be on the same history period, learning the same science, etc. Some subjects would of course be done separately like math.

 

I am interested in doing this with my children. I am thinking it could be done in a very simple, but rigorous way, but not quite sure how.

 

How do you cover the various subjects so that everyone can get something from it for their level? How do you plan your year out? How do you read the different books on various subjects? Do you choose one book per subject that everyone listens to? Do you have the older ones read extra books in a subject to supplement their learning? Or do you read multiple books of different levels for each subject to everyone (this sounds like too much)? What kind of books do you use? How do you choose books that everyone can get something from for their age? How do you do narrations, both oral and written? And how do you keep things simple while giving everyone a very rigorous education by learning together in the CM way? Lastly, how do you manage little ones with this type of learning? I presume habit training would be important here. And how to maintain everyone’s attention in learning no matter the level they are at.

 

Caralee

I have 5 children: ds(12), ds(10), ds(5), dd(3), dd(2 months)

 

 

Hi Caralee,

 

This is what I do, but I only have four children. For history and other humanities, I use Tapestry of Grace. TOG has it all laid out for me and tells me which books work for which children. You can find a sample here.

 

For science, we have tried various resources including Apologia and NOEO. This year, I separated my kids for science. My oldest (11) is using BJU, my middle two (9 & 7) are using NOEO with me and my youngest (5) just looks at picture books.

 

Are you new to homeschooling? A lot of your questions can only be answered through trial and error, in your family. What works for us might not work for you.

 

I don't expect my youngest two to keep their attention on me for very long. So, if I am reading a history book and 10 minutes in they leave to play in their bedroom, that's fine. The older two, however, have to stay with me and listen and then be able to tell me what I just read. I typically choose books to read out loud that are at the level of my oldest student.

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Are you new to homeschooling? A lot of your questions can only be answered through trial and error, in your family. What works for us might not work for you.

 

 

Hello Random,

 

We have been homeschooling for 6 years, but I feel we need to combine everyone together in our studies as much as able except for the obvious things like math so that I can keep up with everyone's readings and learning. I have had them separate and together over the years, and together is just easier for me to manage.

 

I understand what may work for you may not work for me, but at least it gives me some ideas to try or to tweak to our family needs.

 

I know about TOG, but I already have history curriculum that I am using. I was hoping to have specific information on how everyone reads together and learns for their level at the same time.

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How do you cover the various subjects so that everyone can get something from it for their level? I aim to teach grades K-3 together. I pick a few books a year that are appropriate for that age range. Some are on the younger side, some are on the older side. As my kids get into 4th grade and up, they will begin doing their own independent history, literature, and science, in addition to what I do together with everyone.

How do you plan your year out? 1 world history, 1 time period history book, a few biographies to match the time period, Exploring Creation book, a religious book, and a few literature books to read aloud. I buy supplemental books to have on hand that the kids pick up and read on their own as well.

How do you read the different books on various subjects? I read aloud a history book and a literature book at night while they are laying in bed. A chapter from A Child's History of the World & a chapter from Our Island Story on one night, and a chapter from our literature book the next night, rotating. After I'm done reading, I will ask one kid to narrate. When she is done, I ask the other kid if she has anything to add.

I read aloud from Exploring Creation series at the table twice a week. The kids have their notebooks with them. When I'm done reading, I will ask each kid to tell me something they remember. I write it down and dictate it back to them. I do this for each kid. DD4 narrates and then draws a picture.

Do you choose one book per subject that everyone listens to? YES

Do you have the older ones read extra books in a subject to supplement their learning? YES, 4th grade and up.

Or do you read multiple books of different levels for each subject to everyone (this sounds like too much)? No

What kind of books do you use? How do you choose books that everyone can get something from for their age? I choose from Ambleside Online.

How do you do narrations, both oral and written? History, literature, scriptures - just oral narrations. Science is a written narration. For fourth grade I will have dd8 write written narrations for Famous Men of Rome, as well as literature selections she will be reading on her own.

And how do you keep things simple while giving everyone a very rigorous education by learning together in the CM way? I combined the oldest two in Latin and spelling as well.

Lastly, how do you manage little ones with this type of learning? Scripture reading in the morning is done with everyone. DD1 is free to run around a play, ds 3 must be quiet and sit and listen if he wants to participate, or he has the option of playing in the other room. DD4, 7, & 8 must sit and be quiet and participate. Science reading is done while dd1 & dd3 are taking a nap in the afternoon. History and literature reading is done when everyone is in their beds and they have to be quiet while I read.

I presume habit training would be important here. And how to maintain everyone’s attention in learning no matter the level they are at. Train them to sit still and listen if they are school-age, or go in another room to play during school time if they are younger. Ds3 is old enough to understand that you don't interrupt school time. If he does, he sits in the laundry room and comes out on his own when he is ready to be obedient. DD1 I just have to redirect her attention.

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Here are my posts about planning and implementing school, that's the sort of thing I blog about often:

 

http://www.simplyconvivial.com/2012/summer-term-2011-a-typical-day

http://www.simplyconvivial.com/2012/homeschool-hours-an-introduction

http://www.simplyconvivial.com/2012/homeschool-planning-a-year-at-a-time-introduction

 

If you want a program already put together, I'd recommend looking at TOG, MFW, or CC. Just let younger students play while you read and have children write more detailed narrations based on their ages (I don't do projects at all).

 

An essential for us for doing things together is Circle Time.

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I posted on your SCM thread, but here are some details.

 

History: Using SCM's history, we read our "family book" together, any books for grades 1-3 are read next, books for 4-6 are read to my older two. Occasionally I read a book for the next age group to the older two as well. Some days we just have our family book to read, other days we have multiple books. My 8 and 10 yo do map drills...I expect my 10yo to label more of the map than my 8yo. I'll be starting my 6yo next year (she's in K now) with continents and oceans...and probably pre-printed labels. My older two are currently working on Africa. If you haven't read about map drills, SCM has blog posts about it. We also made a salt dough map as a group project.

 

Science: We are currently using Apologia. My plan is to use the CD-rom when they get to General Science and it will be done independently. We do the readings together, and everyone watches the experiments. Only my 8 and 10yo do any notebooking or experiment reports.

 

Math: We use MUS and my older two are combined...one is behind in math and one is ahead, so it works out this way (for now). We watch the video and they do 2 pages a day...the video would take the place of 1 page (front and back). At this pace we usually finish a lesson a week (or sooner). My 6yo is using Miquon this year, but I'll be starting her in Alpha next year.

 

Literature: I alternate books for each age group. For example, earlier in the year we read All of a Kind Family, which my 6 and 8yos really enjoyed. Next, we read A Christmas Carol which was geared toward the 10 and 8yos...we watched a couple video versions so the younger ones could understand the story a little better. Next we read The Long Winter which they all enjoyed. They also read books on their own level, so I'm not too worried about the older DC not being challenged.

 

Foreign Language: We are currently studying Latin with Prima Latina. We all study the vocabulary orally (even my 3yo)! I have the older two do a bit of written work as well.

 

3Rs: I alternate the kid's work so one is working one-on-one with me while the others are working independently. Math, writing, narration, reading aloud, and dictation are done with me. Math wb pages, copywork, phonics workbooks, independent reading, typing, and notebooking are done independently. We all sit at the table so I can keep an eye on them and help if needed. I try to keep my 3yo occupied with an activity, snack...or occasional TV time (although I usually save that for my shower)!

 

I also have everything scheduled so I'm sure to get to everything during the week (although nature study, music study, etc. sometimes get skipped). We do at least 7 family subjects and 5 individual subjects daily (6yo only has 2-3 individual subjects). I also prioritize our subjects...Math, phonics, history, literature and Bible are always done! I can fit these into an hour if needed. Language arts, science, foreign language, etc. are next...if we miss a day or two of these, I'm okay with it. Fine arts, nature study, art, poetry, etc. can be skipped for the day/week if we are short on time. While important to their schooling, they aren't subjects that are built upon...missing them on occasion isn't the end of the world.

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We use Classical Conversations to keep us all together. I put as many things as possible on a 3 year cycle or a 1 year cycle (meaning it repeats every year with weekly topics). The weekly topics help keep us on track and if we miss some of the topics or lessons planned I just make them up on breaks or summer. We all do the same memory work but I expect different levels of mastery for different ages. K3-K5 is just an introduction, 1st-3rd is for learning to memorize and practice, and 4th-6th is for mastery. The 4th-6th graders will memorize a more advanced set of poems and catechism than the younger ones. I read classic picture books aloud to the preschoolers through 1st graders and the 2nd through 6th graders I read classic chapter books and biographies to. The rest of their history and science reading is done via a book basket I put together on the weekly topics and they are given an amount of time they have to read. They read literature according to grade level and notebook it. I read the context of our memory work provided by CC and the resources they sell to my 1st-6th graders together and then they draw a picture and write about what they learned and I require different amounts of writing from different grade levels. I just read Bible stories to my PreK-1st graders but my 2nd-6th I'm planning to do VP Bible with next year (the entire timeline, one card per day using the Sunday School pages in the manuals). We do family devotions together with hymns, manners, and a devotion on either our character trait of the month or something related to our catechism. Right now we are using Character First and Small Talks on Big Questions. We do memory work in the morning all together with an ipad and apple TV so everyone can see it. They sing and dance through a lot of this. Then I read the context of the memory work with a different subject focus on each day of the week. Then I work with the oldest two on grammar and writing. After that I pull them one on one to work on phonics or spelling and reading comprehension and fluency using McCall books and McGuffey Readers (or Bob Books for my K and PreK kiddos). After lunch I pull them one by one for a math lesson and when they finish that they are to read their literature book (or write a narration) and books from the book basket on our daily topic. Once a week we draw maps instead of our regular notebooking. In the summer when CC is over we will do SOTW 1 together and we will use various resources to go more in depth on our science topics. To review our memory work we will do some lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning and Wisdom and Righteousness. When I am focusing on my older ones I just let my younger ones play in another room or go outside if Daddy is home to keep an eye out for them. Sometimes they watch a video or TV if they are too loud or the youngest is napping. They often make a big mess so I'm hoping to be more deliberate next year and/or this summer about assigning them something to do to keep them busy and making sure they clean it up when they are done!

 

Because we are all doing the same memory work we can watch the same educational shows and do the same kinds of field trips and we feel unified. They can read different books on their level and explore topics as in depth as they would like beyond the context I read to them. I like to focus my reading time on classics and inspiring biographies and poetry/nursery rhymes (and of course, Bible stories) instead of historical fiction.

 

Here is our planned history rotation for summers:

 

Grades 1-3

Cycle 1: SOTW 1

Cycle 2: SOTW 2

Cycle 3: SOTW 3

 

Grades 4-6

Cycle 1: VP's OT/AE and NT/G&R

Cycle 2: MARR and SOTW 4

Cycle 3: Explorers-1815 and 1815-Present

 

*They will do Self-paced history starting in 2nd grade

 

Here are our science resources:

Lyrical Life and Earth Science

Science coloring pages (various)

Janice Van Cleave experiments

It Couldn't Just Happen

Tiner/Parker books

Acts and Facts Science cards

Unit studies based on our memory work from Homeschool Curriculum Co

Lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning and Wisdom and Righteousness

 

Plus we have a lot of reference books on hand. I may have my kids do Apologia in 4th grade and up but we'll see........

 

Fine Arts:

Discovering Great Artists

Drawing With Children (and lots of drawing books)

Classical Music for Dummies

Tin Whistle/Music Theory from Foundations guide

 

I use a ton of living books from a list CC puts out on CC Connected (a forum I subscribe to through CC) which mostly come from SonLight and Veritas Press. I get books from Vision Forum and YWAM Publishing as well. I read to them from a list compiled from A Thomas Jefferson Education and Teaching the Classics. I teach them all the same literature terms (and corresponding socratic questions) to apply to their narrations when they finish a book. And I teach them all the same reading comprehension terms from the McCall books (also in The Writing Road to Reading). Their literature books by grade level come from Veritas Press and The Writing Road to Reading.

 

Once a week they do individual workbooks on logic, Latin, and Greek. I call this our light day and it is the day we clean up the house, run errands, etc. They just do their Latin and Greek flashcards the other days so we can focus on other subjects. On that day they also free read on Bible topics and nature study.

 

The key is to have a set of rotations and routines that everyone is on that hold you together like the cycles. Teach them in small groups or all together as much as possible and try to keep their individual lessons short. If your topics for history, timeline, science, geography, fine arts, and Bible memory topics are all the same it really keeps a unity there even if they are reading about, writing about, and exploring those topics at various levels. Having cycles helps me not to stress about how much they got or didn't get because we will cycle back through the following year or in 3 years and they will get it eventually (if they start around 3 they'll get it 3 times before 7th grade)! My 7th-12th graders will work more independently from the family but because the younger ones will be doing the same things they remember doing I still think there will be an element of unity there......

 

HTH!

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I have 4 kids, 13, 10, 7, and 3. We do History and geography together as a family but not much else at this point. Next year, we'll be doing Simply Charlotte Mason so we'll do History, geography, Bible, literature, art, and music together. My plan is to do our main lesson together as we do right now for History and then, when we're done with the family reading, the older boys will be assigned additional reading for the day as necessary. We do oral summaries aloud often by taking turns. I always start with my 7 YO DD at this point as she often has little to tell (oral summaries are not her gift, but I expect she'll get better with time) and then I go to either the 10 YO or the 13 YO and they fill in the rest. I think I read about that on the SCM website.

 

For art, I have Adventures in Art to do together from Cornerstone Curriculum. It looks great and absolutely can be done in a CM style, which is really what I want from it. I have enjoyed the CM method this year (we really started it in January I'd say). For music, I want to do some composer studies. This year, the kids are all involved in music at our church but I'd like to do more next year.

 

For literature together, we're going to do a read aloud together. And then the kids will also each have their own book that they'll be reading as well.

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Thankyou Ladies! This has given me ideas on how to streamline our learning together, and yet get the most out of it for each person. I am a bit of an overachiever, as well as still 'stuck' in some aspects of the 'school way of doing things' mentality. So I think I will need to cut out some things.

 

Thankyou so much for your input!

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My kids are very similar in age to yours. I have a 11 and 9 year old and twin 6 year olds. However my 6 year olds do no homeschool.

 

We do history together and science together. Many of our readings were together but as my boys have gotten older this year they prefer to read on their own. We read the main spine for history together. Then the kids have a related book they read on their own. And do a mini narration to me about. We do timeline and mapwork together. So the kids will find the times periods and important people/ events on the timeline all together. Then they will go to the big map and mark off where things are. Even the books they read on their own we find on the map together.

 

We do science together. However this year they wanted to read on their own again so they read that on their own. Then we talk about it together and do the experiments and what not together as well. We use the Apologia books so that works out well.

 

The twins join in on alot of the experiments, discussions, and such.

 

As for our reading.

 

We have 3 read alouds right now other than science and history. All the kids listen in and I stop about every few paragraphs and ask one of my older two to narrate back to me what is going on. My 6 year olds pipe in frequently with corrections, or to add in or comment. I read one each day.

 

We also have 4 other books they are reading independently. (we only do a 4 day school week) these are dealing with history or Biographys or character studies. For these the boys narrate orally to me as well. (We tired written narrations and this was a nightmare of fighting, though I do have them narrate their history book in writing alot of times) I think another thing I might do when I begin homeschooling the twins is to have the older two dictate down the twins' narrations on occasion. Even though they are reading alot independently, because they are reading the same things we can discuss things together easily.

 

I use alot of the suggestions on milestones academy for combining studies as well as some suggestions from SCM and Ambleside online. The site structure was put together by a Mormon however it is very just christian minus one or two things. Basically I combined the older two into one year and I combined the twins into another year (for some afterschool reading and such). Then she suggests the whole family study science and history together as well as devotionals and some other things (shakespeare, plutarch, artist studies, music studies).

We also do editing for grammar and do that together and for writing the big boys are doing IEW partly together and partly on their own.

 

The biggest help has been bringing my husband into it. We talked about narrations being important to remembering the content and so now he will ask the kids when he gets home from work or at the dinner table he will try and spark conversation based on what he knows they are reading. He will ask them, "So what is going on in ______ book this week?" "Or I saw ___________ on the map tell me about it?" or When he started taking an interest in what they were learning it sparked great conversations at the dinner table and I feel that it is very charlotte mason. The kids have never had trouble narrating to me, however knowing that I just read it to them there isn't as much excitement about it. Daddy doesn't know though so they are actually telling him something new.

 

Christina

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