There I was with a high schooler, a middle schooler, two in elementary school, and a preschooler who wanted to be involved. I felt pulled in so many different directions. I hadn't yet learned to teach literature, writing, arts, music, and history together.
Is it possible to teach all ages together?
Yes it is! You can even teach science together, too. Math, I was never able to do.
One thing I have found in teaching all ages together is that it builds family unity. It is fun to learn together and the togetherness makes it even more fun!
Even when using textbooks, I try to combine their school work as much as possible.
We do a three year cycle for history and geography (first--US history, second--Geography, third--world history). Even if the girls use different materials, we overlap time periods and countries. In science, we used to use textbooks and combine chapters so we could study the same subject (e.g. Plants would be chapter #3 in Katie Beth's book and #7 in Julianna's book ).
We do not worry about doing the material in science textbooks in order. This enabled us to work through material at everyone's level, but do science labs together.
We even started doing history labs together (radio shows, poetry, crafts, painting, cooking, making T-shirts) to have some learning time together if everyone was doing their own textbooks.
Doing Separate Work at the Same Time
Another way I found to teach everyone together when they were doing separate work was to do those subjects at the same time. Often, my children did reading, writing, math, spelling, and grammar separately and usually independently with Mom helping as needed. Yet, we were all together in the dining room or family room working on the same subject.
One year we did a science unit study with another family. We studied the Bible, Spanish, art, homemaking, music, and physical education together one day a week. The kids had so much fun and had no idea they were learning so much.
We have enjoyed doing unit studies as a family, especially during busy time such as Christmas and vacations. When doing unit studies, we do lots of reading and projects together and the older girls get harder assignments to work on independently.
We often turn history into a unit study, absorbing as many subjects as we can. So if we are studying American history, everyone is reading American classics or historical fiction at their level and we are reading an interesting classic aloud together.
Planning Ahead for a Smooth Road
Yes, overlapping textbooks, unit studies, and add labs does take some planning ahead, but it is definitely worth it!
At the beginning of the year I map out the entire year month by month for every subject. I lay out every text book figuring out how many chapters I need to finish each month. Then I post it up in a highly visible place so it can keep me on track.
However, I am not a slave to this schedule; it is a slave to me. I remain flexible—always willing to work longer on difficult area.
Mapping out ahead enables me to plan for the whole family to stay on track together. We like it that way!
Homeschooling has been a grand adventure in our home.
If you want more tips and practical wisdom on homeschooling with joy and success, you've got to read Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, available at Amazon. The E-book is available at Payhip and Currclick. Joyful and Successful Homeschooling covers it all: how to teach, homeschool record keeping, how to make lesson plans, how to choose curriculum, choosing outside activities, managing your home, philosophies of home education, and teaching tips for each subject. Recipes and personal stories are included.
Remember: your homeschooling adventure belongs to you and your family. Make it your own and have fun on the journey!