How to Combine Learners in Your Homeschool

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I’m a mama of many. With 7 kids in our household, homeschooling can be well…complicated.

On any given day I’m teaching 5 school-aged children and switching between the various subjects and grade levels. This makes me just a little bit crazy.

By the end of the day I don’t have a single brain cell left.

So, I’ve done what many other homeschool moms do, and combine my children.

Before I share how I’ve done the combining, I want to share a secret with you.

It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.

What this means is, that you can have a combined school time with all children or you can combine groups of children who are close in age.

I recommend doing a bit of both.

Here’s how I structure our day:

Morning meeting

I begin the day with a morning meeting with my teen to help her plan and prioritize her day. I check her progress in each subject and we set goals for the day. It’s a short 10-minute time that helps her be nearly independent for the rest of the day.

Once you have independent learners, it’s so important to have daily check-ins to monitor progress, answer questions, provide encouragement, and help them plan and set goals.

Group school

Right after the morning meeting time, we begin our formal school day with a group school time where all of my children participate – even the preschooler and teen. We cover Bible, apologetics, memory work, history, science, and geography.

I’ve chosen subjects where it’s easy to modify the lessons based on the grade levels. My older kids might have assigned work after our school time. While the younger kids focus on doing some narration and copywork that is more age-appropriate for them.

Once we’re done with group school, my teen begins on her independent work and the little ones have some play time.

Combined school part 1

Since I have two children who are very close age (child #2 who is 6th grade and child #3 who is 5th grade), I’m able to combine them in several subjects. After our group school time, they have a combined school time with me.

We complete spelling, Latin, and Spanish. I also review their history or science assignments based on the reading and discussion we had during our group school time.

Then I have a short time with each child individually, where we review their math and language arts assignments. At this point, they’re both ready to go work independently on those subjects and also complete their joint subjects.

Individual school time part 1

I’m not able to combine all subjects with all groupings of children, so I schedule some one-on-one time throughout the day.

This first block is for my 3rd grader. We complete math, language arts, and Spanish. Then I assign independent work for the day.

Combined school part 2

During this time, I combine my 3rd and 1st grader. We recap history from group school time and then work on some science that is more at their level. They also do some Spanish and Latin review together.

Individual school part 2

Now I work with my 1st grader one-on-one in math and language arts. I help her with any other questions she has from our group school times and then assign her some simple independent work.

I’ve learned a few things over the years as I’ve sought to simplify our schedule.

  • It works well to have a large group combined time so we can enjoy our time together to focus on building relationships and having wonderful discussions and reading time.  
  • My completely independent child (at this stage, only my oldest in 8th grade), is most productive when we have a morning meeting before we start our day. That way, she is ready to work independently as soon as group school is over and I’m available to devote time to my younger learners.
  • I work through our day in reverse age order. I begin with my older students and work with my younger students later in the day. This gives my littles time to get their wiggles out after group school, allowing them some free play time in the middle of the day. And it allows me to check work and then assign work to my older learner, so they are ready to begin their independent work in the morning. They are usually finished with all their school work in the early afternoon, so they have some free time before evening activities.
  • I spot check work on a daily basis to make sure we’re on track. Having the group and individual times with each child, allows me to teach them to prioritize and set goals while keeping them accountable.

If you’re homeschooling more than one child, I highly recommend finding different ways to combine children – as a large group and then by close grade-levels and ability levels.

Combing kids in various ways has helped to streamline our homeschool day. We finish earlier. We have more free time. And I feel much less stressed and overwhelmed.

Do you combine kids in your homeschool? What ways and subjects are the most effective for combining?

Find more homeschool helps here:

How to Maximize Morning Time

Resources for a Homeschool Morning Basket

This Isn’t on the Homeschool Lesson Plan

Tips for Homeschooling with Toddlers and Preschoolers

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