Yesterday I did a general overview of how multi-grade homeschooling can work. It all sounds good on paper right up to the point where you have nine people asking you what to do all at once. For this to work for us, a schedule is definitely called for. I had delusions last spring that we could just sort of wing it, with everyone doing their thing and me calmly and serenely wandering from child to child helping as needed. (Bwahahaha!!! Excuse me while I snort into my coffee at the memory of it all. There was nothing calm or serene about any of it.) So, we are back to a schedule. It's just better for everyone involved that way.
But how was this imaginary schedule going to work? Nine children, approximately eight different levels and abilities, and one mother. Oh, and I wanted to get everything done in three hours or so. I really strongly believe that academics don't need to take longer than a morning. There are so many other things in this world that are interesting to learn about and do and think about. Why let textbooks get in the way of that? The exception to that is for high school, but three hours of concentrated work should even be sufficient for that as well. I ended up spending far more hours on this than it would seem to hear me explain it.
Here is what I've ended up with. (This is the abbreviated version and not the 20 minute by 20 minute detailed account.) We always begin our morning all together so I can read the Bible chapter we are on. (We are working our way, chapter by chapter, through the Bible.) Then the older people go to their places and begin their work and the six youngest come upstairs with me. The exception is that D., who often finished early anyways, has agreed to lend me a hand for a bit. He is going to help get K. and H. started on their individual work, thus freeing me to start immediately working with the littles. This was the key to making it work. Once D. does this, he can go and do his stuff.
I will start with R., and then in either 20 minute or 30 minutes increments, I will rotate through the others. The other key is what the others are doing when not working with me. I have a variety of plans, depending on the age and ability of the child. I have now divided all of the school room activities and games and toys into different categories. Every 20 or 30 minutes, the little people will get to choose from one of these categories when it is not their turn to work with me. For, R., who is not quite at the point of being able to entertain herself, H. (after she does her independent work) is going to be her assigned helped. I think this will be good for both of them and give H. some more 'big kid' experience. Other things to occupy the time include, snacks for the ones who lean towards the exploding side of things, piano practicing, and some breaks for large muscle use. It will probably never run like clockwork, but with some practice, it will at least keep everyone moving and give me time with each child in the morning.
All of this fun ends at about 11:30. At that point, we will all gather together to do one of the two special topics we will be learning about this year. Those are History from between George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and the study of birds. This time together usually involves a lot of listening to me read, timeline and map work, and sometimes documentaries. I think we'll be making lapbooks for our bird study, so we'll have little books to create about what we've learned as well.
This is what we do Monday through Thursday. Fridays are a little different and we spend them focusing on learning about art and doing art projects. It is also a day where we often do field trips as well. I found a great book about classical music based on bird themes. It tells a little about each piece and then includes either an excerpt or the entire piece on a CD. We'll work through this instead of focusing on one visual artist this year. I also have some fun looking art projects to tackle.
There you go. What didn't I answer? What's still confusing? I'm happy to try to clarify.