Homeschooling a large family certainly poses challenges but teaching a larger group also holds some inherent advantages. Parents should not be intimidated by the idea of homeschool if they have a large family, rather they should embrace the idea of utilizing their children’s strengths to enhance all of their educational experiences.
To set up a classroom that can accommodate a large number of children, parents should start by determining if each child will need desk space or if a communal work table will suffice. There are benefits to each so the decision should be based upon children’s learning style, curriculum, and space available. It is important, however, to ensure that children have a space in which they can comfortably write, draw, or test without too many distractions.
Limiting distractions is another challenge in homeschooling large families. Some families choose to focus on teaching 1-2 children at a time while the others are engaged in play or other tasks. Other families choose to focus on classroom time with everyone at once so that play and family responsibilities can occur all together. If the age range amongst siblings is large, parents will need to ensure that the younger children are not bothering older children as they are trying to process information, think creatively, or take tests.
However, one of the benefits of homeschooling a large family is allowing older children to assist in the teaching of younger children. Not only can this practice help with organization and time management, but teaching a lesson can help cement the information into a child’s brain or even give them new insights into a concept. A child who idolizes an older sibling may be more receptive to a lesson from that sibling, especially if they have been struggling with the concept or rebelling against the parent.
Younger siblings can also take on the responsibility of helping older siblings by being research assistants, art project models, or listening to presentations or creative writing assignments. Allowing children to work collaboratively, despite age differences, can be a great tool in teaching kids about learning differences and how to operate in the workforce as adults. The age differences can make lesson planning challenging but as parents gain experience, it will become easier. Stacked learning about a single subject can assist in the planning, allowing older children to delve deeper into a topic while younger children are taught the basic concepts.
Time management is of vital importance when homeschooling a large family. Parent teachers need to make the best use of time to make sure everyone gets enough attention. Using regular household responsibilities to enhance learning is not only smart time management for school but also for housework. Alongside learning practical life skills, cooking time can teach numbers and math concept, laundry folding can be time to color sort and compare sizes, and outside playtime can teach biology, chemistry, botany, and earth science.
Time is not the only valuable resource, however. Homeschooling a large family can be expensive but a little bit of practicality and some recycling can go a long way. Paper should never be garbage but can always be used as scrap paper, painting paper, papier mache` material, or turned into origami animals. Milk cartons can be cut into pieces and used to make ornaments, wall decorations, or simply to practice cutting and tracing. Ripped or torn clothing can become puppets, monsters, or materials for mixed media artwork.
Choosing to homeschool a large family is a big commitment but one that can have a huge payoff for children and parents alike.
For 15 years Mimi Rothschild has been privileged to help hundreds of thousands of homeschoolers educate their children at home. The MorningStar Academy is a private online Christian school offering diplomas and teachers. The Jubilee Academy is an online Christian curriculum provider offering over 150 full year online Christian courses for PreK-12.