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How long did you combine your kids for content subjects?


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My kids will be in 6th, 5th and 4th grades next year. We have always combined them for content subjects. I am trying to decide if we should continue doing this through the middle school grades and wait until high school to let my oldest begin branching off on his own. Or if we should let him start branching off this next year. I know that it would most likely be easier for me if we kept them together, but I am worried that this won't be the best thing for my oldest. He has matured a lot this past year and I feel like he is ready to be more independent, ready for more ownership over his education. My younger two would stay together for at least one more year, maybe longer, they are very close to the same level as far as maturity and skills. Oldest DS says he wants to work on his own, but I don't think he will object either way. I need to decide this so I can finish planning for next year! I have been going back and forth for about a month now.

 

So, please tell me, did you keep your kids combined all through the middle school grades or start separating them? How did it work for you? Regrets? Pitfalls I may be unaware of? Thank you so much!

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I have twins. We stopped combining in 6th grade because I wanted them to be able to choose their own projects and customize things for each of them. If my goal had been to keep following a history cycle or the like, I think I would have kept them together. Your kids are close in age. They don't have to be separated for content if you don't want. And another thing is that you can assign your 6th grader different assignments to work on more independently but keep the content topics basically the same. That way your head isn't in three different time periods and science topics.

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Mine are the best of friends, and only 18 months apart in age.

 

We still combine for a few minor content things.

 

When they were younger they listened to SOTW together. Now, twice a week they watch an educational tv show together. They also listen to Daddy read easy french picture books. Recently they started watching An episode of a Great course together on Monday. It is about conversation and we do occasionally pause and discuss.

 

I have found, that other than listening or watching - it is easiest to seperate them.

 

I will be combining them for grammar soon. They like doing stuff together, and I'm hoping it will work out. It will be IEW fix it grammar, level three.

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My oldest 3 are closely spaced: an 18 month gap & a 2 yr gap. I kept them combined until 5th grade for literature, history, and science. At that point my oldest just needed so much more challenge, so I split her off on her own. The following year, I split the next oldest off on his own. I've continued to combine just the littler kids, so dc3 is now combined with the 2 younger than her rather than the 2 older than her.

 

I found that combining for history & science cycles worked well for elementary (where I was reading aloud and organizing lots of field trips and activities), but there was just a point where combining was no longer necessary or ideal. By 5th or 6th, my kids prefer to read literature on their own and are simply ready to work independently and with more challenging materials. 

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I think it is interesting all the different choices people have made with small age gaps.

 

Okay, so mine are 21 months apart and we have combined A LOT up until this point. So I really have a similar question to you, OP.  Mine will be 6th and 5th next year. I plan to combine for writing, Latin, science, grammar, and Bible. The pacing and independence will vary with the subject.  We are doing history together also but they will probably read on their own if I can manage that.  

 

Honestly I can't imagine dividing them for some of these subjects. Our school day is already so long.  What I can do is assign more independent work in some subjects or adjust pacing. Working with them separately on two different things altogether really overwhelms me. I'm curious to see how others have managed this.  Maybe it has something to do with me having boys?? My youngest needs a LOT of prodding and I have to sit by him all day pretty much.

 

ETA: We do combine for art also. Forgot about that.

Edited by cintinative
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I kept them together in history for many years and I found it to be the easiest way to manage things. I just used the appropriate texts/materials for their ages. For example, when my oldest was a senior, the others were 10th, 5th, and 3rd grades. That year everyone covered Year 2 - MA/Ren/Ref. The younger ones used SOTW and plenty of library books and historical fiction. My 12th was using Spielvogel and my 10th, who found that heavy going, used an easier World History text. They read everything together with me - Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, lots of Shakespeare. 

 

We continued this way until my 3rd was in 9th grade and we changed things up for her.

 

ETA: For Science, I split the older 2 up when my oldest was in 9th grade. And I kept the younger two together until my 3rd was in 9th grade. I would have found it too difficult to modify and arrange things at 4 different levels for one science, though I never found it difficult for History/Literature.

 

 

Edited by Liza Q
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We combined a lot of things, even through high school, for my oldest two (a year apart).  They did the same math, history, literature, and more.  However, as they developed more specific interests and learning styles, we separated some curriculums.  My ds really wanted to take Physics, and my dd wanted to take AP Chemistry instead, as one example.  And they studied different foreign languages, and had different art interests.

 

That wasn't actually a planned strategy of mine.  It just kind of evolved that way.  

 

#3 child did a lot with the older two for quite awhile.  She could keep up.  But that dwindled as time went on, with the exception of literature and writing. By 5th grade, she was on her own for most other subjects.

 

My younger two (also a year apart) did a lot of things together in elementary, but were at different levels for math and reading. As they got to 4th and 5th grades, they pretty much had their own curriculums, although I liked keeping literature together when I could because I loved group discussions.

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I combined a few things here and there until the oldest was in 9th. History was always easy to combine. Last year the boys wrote a book for writing and did the same curric, but of course I expected the oldest son's book to be longer and more detailed.

We were also able to combine science last year because we did science outside the box that year. We studied the scientific method and the history of science rather than a particular branch of science itself. We did art and music together.

 

Grammar and math and literature have always been tailored to their level.

 

This year they do nothing together (6th and 9th). It makes my day a lot longer and I miss our time together, but it was time for the oldest to study things in a different way than before.

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Thank you for all the replies! Mine are very close in age, 16 months between the oldest and middle and 15 months between the middle and youngest. That made things crazy when they were all little, but now its awesome! They are very good friends too, which also helps. They have always worked on their own levels for math, reading and language arts. We have always done history, science, art, read alouds, memory work, etc. together.

 

It sounds like either choice I make will be fine. If I do separate them, here is what I am thinking:

  • DS11 (6th) - Human Odyssey Vol. 1 and Holt Science & Technology Earth Science (he preferred the look of this over CPO)
  • DS10 (5th) and DD9 (4th)- 1 year American history (pulling this together myself) and Mystery Science

If I keep them together I am thinking either:

  • History Odyssey Level 2 Ancients (slightly different assignments for the younger two) and finishing up the RSO Chemistry and Physics that we've been tooling through for almost 2 years

or

  • BYL American History Year 1 and finishing up RSO Chemistry and Physics

I already have everything I need for all the different options except for the BYL American History and the books I need for that. DH might possibly shoot me if I tell him I am going to buy more curriculum! :lol:  Not really, but he won't be happy that I'm not using the other stuff I've already bought! Aagghh! This should not be such a hard decision for me, but it is for some reason. Probably because I can see the pros of each direction. Except for the fact that DS11 said he wants to be on his own, I am leaning pretty hard toward keeping them together. Maybe I can find something else that will fulfill his desire to work on his own? Still thinking here. . . . .

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I've kept them in the same cycles. Mine ended up separating for science early as there were separate co-op classes available. One could handle the higher level classes and work required early. They have generally most years been in the same topic, but not always. At home projects, unit studies etc for science, I have kept them together. 

 

For history/lit they have been on same cycle all the way. I do read alouds. They have their own separate reading and projects and writing. But we watch the same documentaries, hear the same read alouds, go on the same field trips, etc. Our projects are generally very open ended and they each take them to different places, but they stem from the same starting point. 

 

Each reads very different books, one from the logic stage lists one from the rhetoric, but on the same topics. 

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I believe in combining any students that need to be spoon fed. When a student is BOTH able and WILLING to self-educate and is displaying independence and problem solving skills in many different areas of life, not just academics, it is time to offer them the opportunities they are ready for.

 

It is inefficient for most moms to attempt to spoon feed content to individual students.

 

The same child held with combined content through grade 12 is a student that is unlikely to thrive at the local PS, so it is seldom "educational neglect" to keep such a child with the younger siblings. Many teens can't or won't take responsibility for their education at home or at B&M. Mom burning herself out trying to spoon feed high school content textbooks is not something I suggest unless for an only child.

 

Life just doesn't come wrapped in the pretty packages we see on blogs for everyone. Some of us live a gritty, earthy, more primal existence. Cleaning the toilet bowl and baby butts, and making soup from scraps, and living with some level of DV is the daily reality of some families.

 

Gather around you those that need to be spoon fed, do what you can, and accept that your best is good enough.

 

If you have been blessed with much, more is expected of you. If not....well, be YOU.

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Thank you for all the replies! Mine are very close in age, 16 months between the oldest and middle and 15 months between the middle and youngest. That made things crazy when they were all little, but now its awesome! They are very good friends too, which also helps. They have always worked on their own levels for math, reading and language arts. We have always done history, science, art, read alouds, memory work, etc. together.

 

It sounds like either choice I make will be fine. If I do separate them, here is what I am thinking:

  • DS11 (6th) - Human Odyssey Vol. 1 and Holt Science & Technology Earth Science (he preferred the look of this over CPO)
  • DS10 (5th) and DD9 (4th)- 1 year American history (pulling this together myself) and Mystery Science

If I keep them together I am thinking either:

  • History Odyssey Level 2 Ancients (slightly different assignments for the younger two) and finishing up the RSO Chemistry and Physics that we've been tooling through for almost 2 years

or

  • BYL American History Year 1 and finishing up RSO Chemistry and Physics

I already have everything I need for all the different options except for the BYL American History and the books I need for that. DH might possibly shoot me if I tell him I am going to buy more curriculum! :lol:  Not really, but he won't be happy that I'm not using the other stuff I've already bought! Aagghh! This should not be such a hard decision for me, but it is for some reason. Probably because I can see the pros of each direction. Except for the fact that DS11 said he wants to be on his own, I am leaning pretty hard toward keeping them together. Maybe I can find something else that will fulfill his desire to work on his own? Still thinking here. . . . .

 

Ideally, what will likely be easiest for YOU will be either:

 

1. sticking to the same broad History period and Science subject for all the students, but having separate materials and assignments for the 11yo who wants to work independently, and then materials/assignments used together with the 10yo and 9yo

 

2. if needing to spin multiple students out into multiple History and Science topics, using materials that are designed to be very independent-use and require very little mom oversight or involvement (i.e., workbooks, CDs or video instruction based material, or program written to the student )

 

I really would work hard to support 11yo's spoken need for independence. Sounds like what you have and what you want to get is still very group-oriented. I think I would be working to find ways to further provide "space" and independence for the 11yo. Perhaps provide a completely separate list of living books (use your library so you don't have to buy), and different, more advanced assignments.

 

If you already have most of the materials for the options you suggested above, and buying more curriculum is not really a good option this year, I'd sit down with 11yo and work together on how you can compromise, by doing some things still together, while moving him in to more independent work. For example, still doing the same overall History and Science subjects with a read-aloud spine all together 2x/week, and doing larger projects together, but DS has independent books, workbooks, writing projects, etc. Perhaps something like Moving Beyond the Page units...?

 

And once a month have him provide the rest of you with a short teaching or oral report or slideshow presentation of key things he has learned and connected with that month or on a biography he read separately, or details of a "bunny trail" topic he followed separately  from the "pack". You could also alternate months -- one month a History presentation, the next month Science. Teaching the rest of the family could really help feed his desire to work independently, and provide positive encouragement about being "older and wiser" than his siblings.

 

Good luck! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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I currently have a 12yo and a 14yo who combine for history (SL Core G and our Aussie history,) read-alouds, art and Bible. We team-read and discuss the SL history together. They do their own science. This is still working well at this stage and it is great still having them on the same page in some areas. Dd16 joins them for some Bible, read-aloud and once a week for Aus history but does her own other subjects.

Edited by LindaOz
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My oldest are 2.5 yrs apart (12 and 14 currently). We still combine sometimes, and other times not. For example my DD wanted to study physical science and DS wanted to do science at the middle school, DD wanted nothing to do with history at all (she is doing from Adam to Us by order of mom) but DS loves history and joined an online G3 history class. But, they're doing LLftLotR together. Last year it was Biology together and lit apart.

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I combined until it didn't work any more. We separated for science in 7th/5th grades. For history, my oldest asked to do it on his own midway through 8th grade. However, they did the same history again in 10th/8th and 12th/10th grades, though they did it independently. They also did the same science in 11th/9th, and the same literature for parts of high school. Bible and read-alouds continued to be together throughout.

 

Have fun and enjoy the journey!

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We stopped in 6th as well.. however, where I live high school starts in 7th so that was a key factor. It was a great time/reason to let each child go their own direction {to a degree.} While we are Expats we still ahve to follow the local laws/rules.. so we went with the idea that 7th is the start of high school, all though we use the USA regulations for 9th & upward. Clear as mud?

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I have four with age differences between 2-3 years at the closest. The oldest and youngest are 8 years apart.

 

The only thing I combine is the read alouds. Things like "Treasure Island" or "A Long Walk to Water" can be enjoyed by all regardless of age and the discussions about them turn into knowledge for all. I read during lunch so the oldest can get back to regular high school classes when he is finished eating. Maybe some would not call that school.

 

I think so much depends on age, personality, talents, etc. My oldest split off in late elementary with science because that is his interest. He is ahead in math while my second child is behind and since science tracks with math they are even in the same ballpark. My second child is advanced in literature and he isn't and they enjoy arguing and feeding off each other for book discussion so we are going to do lit together even though they are two grade levels apart and 2.75 actual years apart. They are also writing a sci-fi novel together for fun not for school. We are also doing history together for discussion purposes.

 

 

I keep trying to split my younger two (9 &11) but they are like magnets. They get interested in what the other is doing. My youngest is also quick to memorize and the oldest struggles with memory but is better at some skills, maps, building, directions etc. It is good they both have a chance to be leader and to have an opportunity to struggle and get help to catch up. I'm trying really hard to separate them but they love to be together so it is what it is. They often end up in the same area with math despite my tutoring them separatly.

 

On the other hand I could never combine my second and third child despite the age difference is similar to the 1st and 2nd's age difference. One seems like a high schooler and one seems like a little kid. They also have a hard time putting up with each other.

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Both your plans sound fine. One thing to think about though is keeping on the same track even if you separate so that it is easy to combine again if you want to do so since you are so unsure of whether to do things independent or not. My daughter split from us this year and studied modern history while my son covered Middle Ages to Early American. Now she wants to join us again and will have to follow my son's schedule since he needs to finish his high school credits. It's not a big deal until you need to record for a transcript but something to think about. You can't join them together again if they need two different classes for credit.

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