So you are thinking about or have decided to homeschool and you have a big family! Congratulations on an excellent decision to educate your children and preserve your family. Homeschooling as an alternative to public and private education, also keeps intact those family relationships that are so essential to the proper healthy growth of children.
We have been homeschooling, officially, since 1989. The movement has come a long way from its early days. There are well organized support groups, curriculum vendors, how- to manuals, chat groups, and legal help and so much more. All of these can point you to resources that will help you discern what, when and how to teach your children.
When we started homeschooling I only had 2 children, but then number 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 came over the next several years, 23 months apart from each other. Trying to teach the various grade levels for this number of children was an incredible challenge. Maybe I can impart some wisdom that will make it easier for you.
To start with, you need to recognize your own homeschool philosophy. Why are you homeschooling? Get with your spouse and dig down deep to find out what your true feelings are about why you are educating your children yourselves.
This serves two purposes. One, you will be able to hold onto that goal, that ideal during the tough days. And there will be difficult times when you will want to throw in the towel and send them off to school. For times like this, I recommend making a pot of tea, gathering your children and reading a wonderful book out loud to them, while they color and you sip!
The second purpose for writing down your homeschool philosophy is that it will guide you in how you teach your children, in other words, in the manner you teach them. For example, if your philosophy is college preparation, your schooling days will be intensely academic. If your philosophy is to give them a moral or religious upbringing, your school days will be interwoven with faith-based activities and curriculum. I think you get the idea.
As our family got bigger, I found that though our homeschool philosophy stayed the same, my methods in teaching had to be flexible in order to meet everyone’s needs. This is the number one challenge faced by parents of large families.
The key here is organization. It can’t be stressed enough. If you are not organized your whole day could fall apart by 7:30AM! Organize your meals, your rooms in the house, your chores, and your days of the week. Have lots of bookshelves, not only for books, but for the myriads of clutter that will walk in the front door and settle before you have time to escort it to the Good Will bag. Organize nap times and quiet book times. Have one in the morning and the other in the afternoon so you can take a recess to be refreshed.
The best organization tool I found was a chart produced by Teri Maxwell called ‘Managers of Their Homes’. This chart breaks up the day into