How I Homeschool with Seven Children
Have you wondered what homeschooling looks like when you are teaching multiple ages? I have been asked a number of times what our homeschool day looks like, so we finally created videos showing what a typical day looks like for us this year. I have seven children, ages 13 and under. I not only try to show our daily routine, but I also focus heavily on what I do with all my little ones since I currently have 3 children who are ages 3 and under. We are excited that you will be joining us today!
Do you homeschool?
I tried to keep these videos "real," showing that my children and I are always works in progress. (Confession: I did clean our house before filming, and I did edit out the times someone started crying -- just because you can't hear over it. Everything else is "real.") This is the first time I have filmed something like this, so it is far from ideal. Hopefully it will still be helpful, though.
I do want to first emphasize that what homeschooling looks like for us changes every year as interests, academic needs, and family dynamics change. What I am currently doing in our family is not what it looked like years ago when all of my children were younger. I now have older children who have more seatwork, so my preschoolers do likewise to some degree. When I just had younger ones, we spent little time at the table and lots of time playing and reading. I described in general what homeschooling looked like when I first started out with a 4 year old and a baby at Homeschool Kindergarten Essentials. I described in detail what a typical day looked like at Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten.
What curricula do I use?
This year we are mainly using A Beka, Classical Conversations, and Konos. I love A Beka because I can use it easily with many children (as it encourages children to be independent in their work) and it is academically challenging. We do not hold fast to the grade levels. My children start with the workbooks for grade 1 and move on to the next grade level once they finish. (I always skip the Kindergarten books and start with Grade 1 since the beginning of the grade 1 books review the concepts learned in the Kindergarten books.)
I introduce math concepts using the game Sum Swamp, and then my child begins using A Beka Grade 1 Arithmetic. We use A Beka for math for all grade levels. I use A Beka Language for all grade levels for Language Arts/Grammar (starting with Language 1), and I use A Beka for handwriting through grade 5. For phonics/reading, I start with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, move on to the Kindergarten Enrichment Readers, and then use readers, regular books, and chapter books (usually related to our unit studies) after that. I start using IEW History Based Writing for composition/writing when my child is 7 or 8. We use Classical Conversations and Konos Unit Studies for other subjects.
Starting Our Homeschool Day with PE, History, and the Bible
Three days a week we usually start our day with PE. I work out with friends at the park while our children play on the playground. (The other days we do a co-op/Classical Conversations and MOPS or library story time.) Then we come home, and my children have a snack while I change. After that, we read a Bible story. Up until this year I read the story to my children, but now two of my children take turns reading the story. I then ask them a few questions about the story.
Oops! I forgot to mention in the video that on the way to and from the park we listen to Story of the World audio CD's in my vehicle. We listen to the chapters that correlate to what we are learning in Classical Conversations. After each chapter is finished, I verbally ask basic comprehension questions from each of my children. (We also sometimes listen to Jonathan Park Audio Adventure CD's and Your Story Hour CD's.)
This is my absolute favorite selection of Bible stories for children. I love that the words come from the Bible. Each story is shortened to about 1 page. The illustrations look realistic (but still appeal to children), which I prefer. I do not want my children to view Bible stories on the same level as fairy tales. This is ideal for preschoolers through upper elementary level children! I also really love Arch Bible stories and "The Big Picture Story Bible" by David R. Helm, though both of those are best for ages 7 and under.
We love the Story of the World series and own the audio versions of all 4 volumes (because I love car-schooling). The author, Susan Wise Bauer, does a wonderful job of describing history in an interesting manner just as if she was speaking to you. My children love the voice of the reader on the CD, Jim Weiss. We do skip over the first few chapters that talk about prehistoric man, but that is pretty much the only issue I have with the series. We always listen to the chapters that correlate to whatever we are learning about in Classical Conversations. Previously when I was doing social studies unit studies, we would listen to the chapters that related to our unit study.
For our math hour, I set the timer for 60 minutes. Everyone sits around the table and works on their A Beka math workbooks. My older children fix the problems they got wrong yesterday and complete the next page (front and back) in their workbooks. I work with my preschoolers and then let them play in the living room. I then work with my 5 year old until she finishes her work. After that my older children can ask me questions if they have any. If no one has questions, I grade their language work they did yesterday. Math does not usually take 60 minutes to complete! Whenever they finish, they have free time until the language hour starts.
When the math hour starts, I first focus on my preschoolers. We are working through a preschool workbook that goes through colors, shapes, letters, and numbers (and incorporates Spanish). They each get stickers after we finish the lesson.
Preschool Time of Sitting Still and Playing
While the older children work on their A Beka math workbooks in the next room, I practice sitting still with my youngest ones. We sit on kitchen towels for 1 minute. This is simply to practice waiting quietly and patiently. After that minute, I praise each child and give them a high-five. Then I pull out a container of toys for the younger children to play with in that room while I work with my older children.
I vary the container of toys each day. The options include wooden blocks, a Mr. Potato Head set, Hot Wheels cars, toy animals, Thomas the Train set, Lincoln Logs, beading and stringing toys set, and Legos. If they fight over a toy, I remove it. If they continue to fight, they have to each play in a separate space. Usually my 5 year old will join them after she finishes, so this keeps them engaged longer.
Before I had two preschoolers to keep each other entertained and was needing to spend more time with my emerging kindergartner, I had a different schedule for my toddler. I divided his time into various 15 minute segments. I described what I did at What to Do with Toddlers and Babies While Homeschooling Older Children: Taming Toddler Tornadoes.
Language Arts Time
After the 1 hour math period and 10 minutes of free time, we have one hour of language. That includes A Beka Language, A Beka Handwriting, and Spelling (A Beka Spelling 1 and 2 and then Grammar of Spelling after that). My oldest ones also do writing assignments using IEW History Based Writing Lessons. Currently everyone can do their handwriting and spelling assignments with very little assistance, so they usually start with those.
My preschoolers do a simple coloring page and a dot-to-dot number page and then return to play with toys in the next room or they can flip through a basket of picture books.
I help my 5 year old with her language arts worksheet. When she is finished, I help my older children with their work if they need it. If no one needs help, I grade the math workbooks. After the hour is up, everyone has 10 minutes of free time while I make lunch.
Here is a glimpse of what the language hour looks like and how I use the "Question Seat." After I get my preschoolers started, I help my 5 year old with her language arts worksheet. After she has completed her language arts, handwriting, and spelling worksheets (or when she gets to a place that I know she can do without further assistance from me), I allow for my older children to ask me questions.
If my older children need assistance with their work, they sit in the "Question Seat" next to me. This allows for it to be obvious who should be receiving my attention, and it allows for me to see their page. After I help the child, they return to their seat.
Reading Time and Nap Time
After our 30 minute lunch period, I set the timer for 40 minutes. My oldest ones read their assigned books (which relate to our current unit study). After they finish their chapters, they each tell me a few sentences about what the chapter was about, and then they have free time.
Meanwhile, I take my youngest four into our bedroom and read board books to them. Everyone gets to pick a boardbook. I put my youngest two down for a nap while my 5 year old daughter reads her reader to my 3 year old. I listen in as well (and assist) as soon as I return from putting my youngest two down for naps.
Reading Half Hour Continued
After I put my youngest two down for a nap, I join my 3 and 5 year old and listen to my 5 year old read from her reader. She is currently reading through the Dan Frontier series. She then has free time. I then spend time with my 3 year old.
Teaching Preschool Math and Phonics
After my 5 year old has finished her reading assignment, I focus on my 3 year old. We go through alphabet cards. Then we play Sum Swamp to teach math concepts. We complete a lesson from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Afterward, my son gets a chocolate chip for finishing his reading lesson. I do usually pair early phonics time with a treat because it helps my children to look forward to reading, and it provides a motivation for them to finish the lesson in a timely manner.
This is the game that I use to teach my children number identification and addition and subtraction. It has 3 dice: two dice numbered 1-6 and a +/- die. It is fun and quick to play; plus, my children love playing it! It also teaches even and odd numbers. I love the Learning Resources math games! I use Money Bags to teach money, Dino Math Tracks to teach place value, and other games to reinforce math concepts we have learned.
I am currently teaching my 5th child to read using this book. When I was teaching my oldest child to read, one of my veteran homeschool moms (of 8 children) told me that of all the homeschool books and curricula that she has used over the years, this is the one book that she enthusiastically recommends to everyone for phonics. It is easy to implement (with no preparation required) and is a great next step after a child can identify all their letters. Do be aware that every single one of my children begins to dread this book about half way through as the lessons become more challenging. We continue to plod through it and then move on to the A Beka Enrichment readers set. After they finish those, they read regular books or readers that are usually related to what we are learning in our unit study.
Memory and Cleaning Time
Memory Period and Cleaning Period
We spend an hour on memory work and chores. We spend 15-20 minutes reviewing our Classical Conversations (CC) grammar for the week.
Before I was doing CC, we spent this time reading picture books related to our Konos unit study.
We spend 20 minutes cleaning. Each child has a "zone" to clean each day of the week. I described what each child does toward the bottom of the article How to Homeschool Multiple Ages.
Then we spend about 15 minutes doing our weekly AWANA work.
What CC Review Looks Like for Us
Unit Study (Science) Time
Unit Study Reading and Activities
We end the homechool day with about 30-45 minutes spent on our weekly unit study. We are currently basing our unit studies on the weekly Classical Conversations science sentences. Before we did CC, we would spend this time (30 minutes) reading picture books related to our Konos unit study, and we would meet with a co-op each week to do 2 1/2 hours of fun hands-on activities. Now that CC has replaced our Konos co-op, we are doing less reading together and instead adding in activities each day that relate to what we are studying. I posted links to each of my unit study lessons at Fun, Free Hands-on Unit Studies. Included in each lesson plan are the activities we did, picture books and chapter books that we read, and YouTube video clips we watched. I also included free lapbook pages in most lessons, though we rarely create lapbooks.
Dinner, Diversions, and Devotions
After that it is usually time for dinner, free time, sports lessons, and family devotions. After putting everyone to bed, I get to write my posts like these. Thank you for joining us today! Please do let me know that you came by in the comment section below. I really do love hearing from you!
Looking for more homeschool help?
- Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten - On this page I have laid out what I do to homeschool my children when they are ages 3-5 and have also included my favorite resources for preschool and kindergarten learning. This is a detailed list of what I do from one activity to the next.
- Homeschool Kindergarten Essentials - These are my practical tips for your first year of homeschooling kindergarten. I give an overview of what I did while homeschooling my oldest two children (and still do to some degree now that I have children at many levels.)
- Taming Toddler Tornadoes: What to Do with Toddlers and Babies While Homeschooling Older Children - These are my practical tips on what I do to keep my babies and toddlers busy and happy (and out of trouble) while I homeschool my older children.
- How to Start Homeschooling (Transitioning from a Public or Private School) -Many families have asked for my advice on how to start homeschooling after they have pulled their child from a public or private school. This is what I tell them.
- How to Homeschool Multiple Ages (My Daily Homeschool Schedule) - Here is where I explain our daily homeschool schedule for 3 different stages: when I only had preschoolers (ages 4 and under), when I only had 1 child who could work independently and 4 who couldn't, and our current homeschool schedule that includes every age but high school. I have also included a few more tips for general home management.
- My Homeschool Math Curriculum, Games, and Books - This is where I explain what we use for math to make it my children's favorite subject. They love math so much that one of my sons actually requested to have a math-themed birthday party!
Looking for all of my unit studies and lessons?
I have posted over 35 hands-on unit studies that focus primarily on science and social studies. In each lesson plan I have listed the activities that we did (and included photos), the books we read, YouTube video clips that we watched, and lapbook links that pair with the lesson. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-On Unit Studies.
© 2015 Shannon