Homeschooling Multiple Children –The Lesson

I have often said on this blog that part of homeschooling is knowing when to continue and get some things done, and when to know to leave it and go to the park that day!  Those of you who homeschool in a Waldorf way probably are nodding your heads right now!  I  myself was having a harder time toward the end of  this week with my little almost four year old during some of the main lesson time for his older siblings.  It is an almost universal theme when I talk to homeschooling mothers.

I also get quite a bit of email regarding what to do with younger siblings (ie, nursery aged of ages 3 and 4, and kindergarten aged of ages 5 and 6) during main lessons for the older, grades-aged children.  I have written about this subject again and again, so there are many back posts you can run a search for and see under the “Homeschooling” tab.

This is the main lesson for homeschooling life though:  if you are so harried and so busy trying to fit “school” in that there is no time for your littles, then you simply must sit down and think through what needs to change.  I had to do that this week.  There is no shame in re-assessing, re-evaluating and tweaking things to run more smoothly!

The fact is that if we are trying to run our homeschooling as if our smallest children  don’t exist or matter and are only there to “hang out” whilst we work with the older children, then this is not laying a good foundation for family life  (nor is it laying a good foundation for  grades work when the time comes for this child!).

This is because this is the curriculum for the young child is absolutely laying a foundation.  This is done through:

  • Warmth
  • Security
  • Unrushed time
  • Love
  • Cuddling and Snuggling
  • Singing, fingerplays and toe plays
  • Playing, especially in natural environments where they can get dirty!
  • Real work and helping you do real things
  • Experiences that nurture and protect the senses
  • If they are 5 or 6 years old, artistic experiences
  • Physical play and mobility – riding a bike, running, climbing, balancing,

Building margins of time and space into the rhythm of your day is important.  Waldorf Education includes lots and lots of things that can translate to all ages.  For example, if your third grader is building a diaroma out of a shoebox and natural items to explore Native Americans, then your kindergarten-aged child can also be building something for their peg people as well.  There are many layers to the curriculum and many ways to prepare things for a successful and fun day!

Conversely, if you are spending your whole day or week in nursery or kindergarten land, and are not really working with your older children (if you are trying to homeschool in a Waldorf Way, that is), then that is also not a service to the older children.  Grades-aged children are READY to do things, they are READY to have you teach, they are READY to learn.  They need consistent times to work on things, to have you teach,  and to have time to explore as well.

I will write more about this in some future posts, but I do think this idea of balance is important and dear in homeschooling, and it CAN be done in a Waldorf homeschooling environment.  It can!  Start where you are and see what small changes you can make toward balancing the needs of the whole family.

Many blessings,

7 thoughts on “Homeschooling Multiple Children –The Lesson

  1. Thanks so much for this timely post. I have a third grader who is Waldorfish homeschooling and we’ve just had a six month old foster child placed in our home. With all of the baby’s appointments and meetings, homeschooling has really fallen and I’ve felt so guilty. Any other foster parents out there trying to balance the foster child’s unique needs and schedule with homeschooling? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Mary Lynn,
      Do you have any say whatsoever when the baby’s appointments are? You may not, but if you do at all, I would suggest appointing afternoons or one day a week…
      Can’t wait to hear from other foster parents!

  2. I’ve got a whole passel of children – grades 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, K and a 16 mo old baby girl… What i’ve done is say that baby’s nursing needs to happen, and diapers need to be changed, but the first homeschooling hour after breakfast and our together time (Bible, prayer, memory work and poetry) is dedicated to my little ones – i do the Oak Meadow K with my little 5 yo, and help my grades 2 and 4 with their work. We take a break mid morning and everyone cleans for 10 minutes and has a 20 minute break , the another hour of homeschool before lunch. After lunch we have another together time (Mon/Art, Tues/Composer, Wed/ Saint, Friday/Nature Study) and then the first session belongs to my grade 12 son who needs help, too!. And the same thing – at 2 there is a clean up all together for 10 min and then a 20 min break, and then the final session – so four sessions in all – for either an hour or an hour and half. My two most neediest groups were the littlest ones, and my grade 12, so they have a session kind of dedicated to them – and the others get help in the middle sessions… This has helped me get everything done. We also have “baby time” – if someone finishes their work, they can have “baby time” – baby is still also napping twice a day, so the whole schedule is very workable. I know when she drops a nap, i’ll have to put someone in charge of her for 15 minutes or 30 min at a time – that’s worked for us in the past, and lets everyone have time with baby one on one, which they (and she) love(s) 🙂

  3. Pingback: Pre-schoolers learning to be ready for school? Give me a break! | Parenting Energy

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