Homeschooling Multiple Grade Levels?  We Share Some Tips for Success and Sanity

Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash


After spending much more time at home over the last few months, parents are learning more about their children – especially in regard to their learning styles – and have enjoyed working as true participants in their children’s education.

If you’ve decided to move past public schooling because of all of the challenges presented to parents this year, you’re certainly not alone – but you likely have many questions and concerns.

Many families have seen the benefits of home education and have decided to pursue it indefinitely, but just how do you keep everything running smoothly while homeschooling more than one child?

First of all, veteran homeschool parents will be the first to tell you that it takes time to figure it all out.  From daily routines, to balancing multiple ages or grade levels, to use of space – and the all-important storage issues – finding a good balance does not happen overnight.

What if one child is an early riser – excited and motivated – while another would sleep through an earthquake and is having trouble accepting Mom and Dad as their teachers?

What if you are short on space?  Where on earth will you store all those learning materials, and where will you even conduct learning time?

And what about that learning time when you’re already short on time as it is?  Many parents are still working from home and trying to balance their child’s education at the same time.

Well, take heart.  We’ve all been led to believe in recent decades that parents are not natural teachers; that we have no “training” with which to teach our own children; that we can’t juggle one more thing.

But veteran homeschool families will tell you:  Once you get a system down that works for you and your children, it really does become a natural extension of your family.

No, it’s not easy, but homeschooling does not have to fit any kind of mold – and that is the beauty of it.

One of the most sanity-saving tips for homeschooling is to have a designated space for schoolwork.  While a spare room or portion of a room is ideal, it’s by no means essential.

Many families “dress up” a corner of an unfinished basement, section off a low-traffic room in the house, or even just meet at the kitchen table.

The key, especially when teaching multiple children, is to keep everything in one place.  This keeps the kids accountable for their books and supplies and also helps parents stay on track.

While it’s true you will need to have some additional storage available for the extra materials you’re bringing into your home, it need not be fancy.  A guest bedroom closet can be cleaned out or an inexpensive bookcase purchased for a corner of the living room specifically used only for school.

Another great tip is to give each child their own easily-identified space for their own materials and grade-level books.

Some families assign each child a cubby, each in a different color — perfect for younger kids.  Another idea is to give each child their own shelf on the bookcase to keep materials organized for each age or grade level.  You can even combine these ideas by giving each child their own colored cubby along with using colorful tape in the same shade on their assigned shelf.

While older kids can likely do much of their work independently, it’s always important for the entire family to meet before the start of the day’s school session.  (And it doesn’t have to strictly follow a morning schedule – many families work after dinner when parents have more free time!)

This school-time “pow-wow” allows parents a chance to go over the lessons for the day to answer any questions and give assignments that older kids can complete while they work with younger ones.

For younger kids who need more individualized attention, it’s often best to complete those subjects at the start of the school “day” when everyone’s mind is fresh and older kids can be kept busy with structured assignments.

It’s important to block off time with each child every day so you can make sure they’re on track and understand their lessons.  Younger children often require that you sit alongside them while they work on subjects like math and pre-reading.

But – this is no time for guilt!  If you feel you are stretched thin trying to give each child enough time, keep in mind that in a traditional classroom setting, most children get very little (if any) individualized instruction.

The real joy in homeschooling, though, comes in those times when the whole family can work on lessons together.  For non-academic subjects that are not as grade-specific, parents can teach an overall lesson to all kids at the same time and then assign tasks appropriate to each age.

Bible study, history, art, and music are perfect for multi-age group studies, and offer time for bonding, fun, and a more relaxed approach.

And don’t forget, older siblings can help work with a younger one on a subject they may have already mastered, teaching responsibility and compassion!

Reading is perhaps the best time for bringing the family together while boosting the educational experience.

Even if younger children may not understand all that is going on in a higher grade-level novel, introducing literature early can lead to a life-long love of reading.  And even older kids (despite their eye-rolls) really love to be read to.  It’s relaxing and enjoyable for everyone.

Kids learn through every experience, and homeschooling does not have to follow a textbook or teacher’s guide.  Yes, these can be helpful for certain types of learning styles, but kids pick up more by working on basic life skills than sitting at a desk.

Cooking together, gardening, working on the car, taking nature walks, visiting museums and historical sites – these are all learning experiences that will stick with your child as good memories that help them retain important facts.

Working with several different ages or grade-levels doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  What matters is establishing a schedule and activities that work with the learning styles and interests of your children.

(And don’t forget that age does not necessarily define grade level – many homeschooled children are far above what their grade level would be according to their age!)

Families who homeschool multiple ages at the same time often find that rather than being chaotic and stressful, the family comes together to help each other learn and grown.

It’s an experience free from restrictions (other than those pesky guidelines you may have to follow according to your state) and full of opportunity to learn about the world and each other – and create a love of learning for learning’s sake and a family bond stronger than you can imagine.

Moms and Dads teaching multiple kids — you can do this!

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