Homeschooling Two-fers

Homeschooling Two-fers

As a momma who’s been homeschooling awhile, I’ve found quite a few ways to streamline things.  Here are some of the ways I make the most of the time I invest in teaching for everyone involved.

Teach some subjects every few years

You know how some college classes are only offered every other year?  We do something similar in our home school. When it comes to high school chemistry and biology, I’d rather teach it as infrequently as possible.  So I routinely clump kids of different ages together in the same class.  Our oldest two daughters (who are two years apart) did biology together one year and chem together another year.  Our next two kids (also 2 years apart) studied both those subjects together as well.  And at the moment four of my kids, plus a friend, are studying chem together. In most cases it really doesn’t matter if you study biology your freshman year or your junior year, as long as it shows up on that high school transcript someplace.  And often kids can help each other out as they plow through a subject together.

Pair several classes

Another place I like to double up is on writing and other subjects. Makes complete sense with literature, right?  But I also often combine handwriting with Bible memory work and essay-writing with history.  This year we are working through American history by having all 6 of our kids write essays about important figures during various time periods of American history. Each month we focus on a different time period.  To squeeze in speech class as well, after those essays are written, I have kids read them to the family at the dinner table.  Reading an essay to your family may not be as stressful as presenting to a group of classmates, but it is definitely a chance to flex those speech-making muscles.

Set pairs of kids up to learn together

This year I discovered a really great free-to-download geography program called Seterra.  It drills kids on cities, states and countries all over the world.  I routinely stick two kids together to on a computer, taking turns.  This does two things.  First, since the program grades you by accuracy and speed, it sets up a fun competition between the two kids playing.  Second, a child can learn during his sister or brother’s turn as well as during his own– and I’ve noticed it is less stressful to learn from sibling’s errors than your own.  :)  I am delighted with how much geography my kids have learned this year with this program. I do try to keep an eye on what topics the kids pick to learn first, though.  Once my youngest girls spent several days diligently studying the provinces of South Africa. Doubting that was crucial knowledge for age 9 and 11, I suggested they learn all the countries in the world first.  :)

Capitalize on interests

One final way that I like to double up is when I notice a kid is interested in something and is doing some investigating on his own.  If a teen is interested in becoming a police officer, ask him to investigate common paths to becoming a police officer and write his next report on that topic.  Topics that a kid is already interested in are often painless to investigate further and can still satisfy a teacher’s need to get a few essays written during a semester’s time.

Are you a homeschooler?  What types of things do you combine to make your homeschooling get done more quickly and easily?

{ 9 Comments }

  1. Thanks for these ideas Mary. I recently started homeschooling my 14yo and while I’m currently just trying to keep my head above water I also know that I will need many resources and ideas in the very near future. Bookmarking this!

  2. Having classes every couple of years works well in the homeschool setting but not so great in other circumstances.
    Our local high school only offers Chemistry once every three years. Boy is that tough to plan around for kids. The reason is cited as financial but when you have kids who are either excelling and moving at a fast pace, those who are a little bit more slower, or for kids who decide after freshman year they are generally interested in the sciences–they may miss their one opportunity in high school to take Chemistry! It has proved a missed class for more than one student.

  3. This year we started using The Story of The World for history & started with Ancient History (lots of opportunities to explore science in there). All my kids are using it (K, 2nd, & 6th grades) which is saving time. Then we have done some things to help them learn more about our state history like field trip to the state capital. With my 6th grader, I have used a couple other trips (an aquarium & a vacation in the San Juan Islands) to write essays on that include lots of science so it doubles up on two subjects there. I really like the thematic approach to learning which does a great job of weaving the subjects together.

  4. I am so glad you posted this! I have one high schooler currently, and another one next year (plus 7 younger ones.) At 11 years in to our homeschool adventure, we’ve learned to combine a lot of subjects, but I never thought of having the high schoolers do science together . Just never questioned the idea they *had* to do biology in 9th, Chem in 10th, etc., or considered mixing the order. You are right though… It shouldn’t matter which grade they do which. They are going to LOVE doing science with a buddy throughout high school, having a lab partner and all! Thanks!

    As an aside, we love History Revealed right now as a multilevel curriculum. It is written for 6th grade through adult, but we adapt it so our 4th grader can join in somewhat. :-)

  5. Terri Millwood says:

    I try to double up as much as possible. My junior and sophmore are taking Literature, Government and German 2 together. My younger girls are 4 years apart in school but my 6th grader has some learning challenges and my 2nd grader reads on a much higher level (beyond 6th grade). They can easily do subjects like History, Science and Reading together. Our biggest challenge is my 4 year old. I feel pretty guilty having him watch so much Netflix but between housework and school work, it gets pretty challenging.

  6. I try to group the kids as well as much as I can. Is it me, or do the minutes fly by? Literally, I am still grading and doing school stuff when it it time to cook dinner around 4:30 p.m. Do you have tips for when you do your planning/grading/looking over school stuff. Do you bother to make a weekly checklist for older kids or not? Also how you stay on top of the transcript for the older kids for college?
    I really enjoy the high school age kids but I don’t enjoy the record keeping part. We do take a break after lunch and do read aloud and the kids do crafts.
    After reading your post I am looking at our day and see if I can trim out anything in our daily schedule. Thanks for the tips.

  7. Heather@To Sow a Seed says:

    I keep things manageable by grouping certain kids for some things, using curriculum that can be slightly tweaked for different stages, and having older kiddos help youngers when appropriate. I love your idea of only teaching certain things every couple of years. Makes sense!

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