06 February 2010

"Homeschooling More Than One Child" Meme

Do you? Please share a little about yourself and your homeschool! Now I'll share about mine:

Elf (9) and Emperor (8) are 13 months apart, and they would have been two years apart grade-wise had they continued in public schools. Elf would have been in fourth grade this year and Emperor would have been in second. But they homeschool together in all their classes here at the Happy Elf Homeschool. They have been a class together at home for almost three years.

When we began incorporating Emperor into our lessons, of course Elf had a great advantage. Emperor was barely out of preschool, but it took him only about three months to get to the point where he was competent and out of the second grade math-wise. Elf is the reading elf and has loved reading, especially since he's been homeschooled and has learned at his own pace.

Each child has a great strength in his particular area. I try to encourage teamwork and cooperation, but often discover that their idea of "teamwork" is "Emperor does all the math and Elf does all the reading aloud that Emperor hates." Ummm... sorry. Mom makes you share.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen Elf "accidentally" reading Emperor's part in a textbook. I make Emperor go back to the very beginning of the passage and read it again when that happens. It annoys Elf no end because it feels to him as though Mom is undoing his reading. Ruining it, even. It bothers Emperor because now he has EXTRA work to do in addition to what he would have had to do in the first place. Well, that's what happens when you don't do your fair share. "Helping" and cooperating is one thing, but doing things for someone else when he should be doing it himself is quite another.

Sometimes a child will get very annoyed because one will call out an answer to a question the other was asked. Do kids in public school cry and punch each other because they get THAT MAD about who got to read what first or who got to answer which question? Or who gets to do "the Elfie dance" for about 10 seconds when a question is answered correctly? Oh, yeah... if Elf was supposed to answer the question, he should get the dance. But if Emperor answered it correctly, he earned the dance. That's not right! I should get two questions after this, then. And two dances.

If you homeschool two or more children, do you pass books down? If they're in the same grade, do you buy an entire set of books for each child, or do you make them share? Cheapo Mom here makes them share books for the most part, and copy answers in a notebook or workbook so we can pass it on yet again. Besides which, it makes it easier to divide "reading out loud" passages because they'll put the book between themselves and the pages on the left are Elf's and the pages on the right are Emperor's. Many tears happen when someone's page has questions instead of stuff to read. It isn't fair. And he read more than me yesterday, too. And he took my dance and IT WAS MY DANCE! ARG!

I am looking over what I've written and am considering that perhaps, instead of only INDIVIDUAL goals, we have "working as a team, helping each other learn and being kind" goals and rewards in addition each week for the children. Sometimes writing out your problems can help you think of good solutions. This is (for some reason! extra energy this week or so!) the time to revamp and revitalize that homeschool setting here at the Happy Elf Homeschool. Because I could use a Happy Elf and a Happy Baby Giant. I really could. Though Emperor might be a bit embarrassed if he knew YOU knew that he was the "baby giant." No matter. When he grows up he will just be a regular grown-up giant. We all know this. :)

But overall, I LOVE homeschooling these guys together. They really are best friends, and I think being together almost all the time keeps them on the same wavelength. They have many inside jokes. Most of the time, they work together as a team, often moreso than I would wish. They have common hobbies. They eat the exact same school lunches. They even wear the same clothes, though Emperor gets to wear them first as he is taller.

What are some of your challenges and blessings if you homeschool more than one child? Do your children work together in all their subjects? Do you save books or buy a new curriculum for a younger child? How do you decide? I don't have a Mr. Linky, but if you leave a link in the comment section, I will edit this post and list your post here:

sample link here

5 comments:

  1. I homescool my oldest 2 kids (girl and boy) together for the most part - pretty similar to you. They are 17 months apart. In the US they would be 1 grade apart (in Japanese school it would be two because of how their birthdays fall).

    For the most part it works really well, especially since we use Sonlight, which means I read aloud to them a lot anyway. The hard thing for us has been that the younger one was a late reader, and as a result a late writer. I sometimes have a hard time balancing their reading and writing requirements without causing one to feel superior, and the other to feel "less". Maybe I am more sensitive to that than they are, but I sometimes feel badly about it. They do their math totally independently, so that's not an issue (we use Teaching Textbooks).

    I am starting to work up a plan for a little more formal pre-school program for the younger two, which may be tricky. As you know my 7 year old has developmental delays, and limited speech. My three year old is very precocious. I am hoping that they will enjoy learning together. I'm praying that they will, since if they don't I will really have my hands full!

    So far, I have saved all the curriculum that we have enjoyed. I suppose there could be other things that I will want or like better in some subjects by the time I need those materials again, but for now I am saving everything I have space for!

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  2. I think my approach has always been more casual than yours. :) When I was working and Gary was teaching part of the time I would leave lesson plans and a schedule out for them to follow, but our lesson plan largely consisted of which days they did which subjects, what pages, etc.

    Even now, we have a very, very broad schedule. Up, dressed, Animal-oriented chores first, then breakfast and a little house keeping. Free time until lunch (usually outside). Then we start school. Afternoons work best for this household. After they were about eight years old I let them choose what order they wanted to do their subjects, in with the understanding that they had to do them all. Interestingly, they often chose their least favorite first.

    We passed text books down. I did not worry about passing work books along. I use workbooks in part because they lessen the other all work load on everyone and they provide a great record keeping tool. When the boys were younger and money was a lot tighter I used tons of worksheets. In fact my oldest's fifth grade year was done almost entirely like this. And, yes, I saved nearly all the worksheets.

    The rest of it was piecemeal, but, oh what an adventure! We do a lot of writing (my personal area of interest), both by hand and on the computer. All the boys have written "books". We read a lot in this house (another interest of mine). We do a lot of art and they all have a general grasp of the mediums and a few famous artists' names. When they were younger, occasionally school amounted to "collect five kinds of wild flowers (or leaves) and identify them." When they returned, we studied the parts of the flower and learned their names. After they got older I gave them my camera to take pictures of them. This is where Joseph's interest in biology sprang from and Sam's interest in gardening. We watch one or two documentaries a week--also sparking animated conversations about current events and history (one of Joe's interests).

    As per them "helping" one another; that was almost never an issue. Daniel, being a great rule follower, would have considered that cheating and Jeremiah didn't want to help anyone into not knowing how to do their work when it mattered (he seemed to get that message early). I did occasionally hear Daniel quietly mouthing the answers to math problems as I worked them out with Jeremiah by way of flash cards or coaching, but he wasn't so much helping or being a know-it-all as he was simply enjoying the math experience. Joe and Sam are three years apart so doing one another's work is not an option. Now days the older boys will sometimes help me when they come in from where ever they've been, but it's specific to their area of interest. Known fact: You don't want Jeremiah helping you with math (he is inclined to assure you that the math book is wrong if their answer is different than his) and you don't want Daniel helping you with spelling (just not his gift).

    Footnote: I'd love to tell you that we did "Bible time" as a part of school, but we didn't. It was a lot more organic than that. Bible stories were bedtime reading, stories told by their father and I as we went through the day. They paid close attention in the after school program. Interestingly, they've all chosen to read the Bible through by themselves. Whenever our church had Bible Bowls EVERYONE wanted our boys on their teams (especially Joseph and Daniel). I'd give anything to be able to take credit for that, but this is just who they are.

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  3. PS. I did not mean to write an entire blog entry in your comments section. Sorry.

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  4. Sue, I LOVE Teaching Textbooks! Love 'em. I think that your preschool idea will work for a year, maybe two. It will be a huge blessing for both these little boys. I'm very excited for them, reading this.

    LOL Mary, I loved reading your mini-blog entry here. I just can't link back to your blog from it. :)

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  5. My kids are 5 and 3. We started formal school stuff last fall with my 5, and my 3 (then 2) just sort of hung around coloring or sticker-ing, or whatever. Now, however, my 3 (or Big Three as she hilarously refers to herself - "Big Three don't like it") what with being 3 and all, demands to "do real schoolwork" too. So a lot of my days consist of "when I am talking, you are NOT talking!" and "when I am talking to your brother, you have to wait!" and "quit yanking on me!" and other assorted fishwife-tastic screeching.

    I got several preschool workbooks and had the bindings cut off. So now I have a big stack of worksheets for her to do when she wants to. The thing is, she blows thru them so quickly, she's done before I even have a chance to turn around and work with my son. It's been an adjustment. I have been surprised at how much of an adjustment it has been for my son, since he now has to share me during school. She is learning so much thru osmosis, it just blows me away. I think when we do begin more formally with her, she will catch up to him. That might be good, though, and give him an incentive to work even harder.

    And I am very conscious of keeping everything as pristine as I can so I can use it with her down the road. And some subjects, like history, I am planning on waiting until she is old enough that they can do it together, just because it seems so much more efficient. Which I will totally need to counteract the effects of that huge stack of abandoned stuff I have in the basement...(we all have that, right? not just me?)

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)