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When we need to teach several different students at various levels, we can sometimes feel pushed and pulled in all directions. How can this be minimized?
2. Physically near each other, but tasks vary according to age and ability. Some subjects combined.
3. Unit study: all together for everything.
4. Various combinations of the above.
Plan in times with them. Early in the day is especially beneficial. Teach them a chore and watch while they complete it, giving praise and gentle encouragement, and you'll find they'll entertain themselves quite well afterwards.
Observe when the next likely disturbance will occur on average. Plan involvement for them again then eg sitting on your lap whilst you teach, helping you with another chore, or having an older child read to them.
All days don't have to work as planned, but don't treat your littlies as interruptions. Invest time and love - value them.
Remember, the little ones multiply the smiles around the home. We can't help smiling at their wonderful ways, their smiles and dimples and loving leg hugs. The smiles keep going round!
Keep littlies nearby and involved: on knees, playing at feet, listening to reading (even if it's above their head). Allow them to slip away if they wish, but don't keep shutting them out.
Teach children what to interrupt for, and how to interrupt, and especially when not to interrupt if at all possible.
Give children a list of things to do whilst awaiting your help if you are uninterruptable.
Teach them to concentrate - return quickly to the task at hand when interruptions (pleasant or unpleasant) have occurred.
Don't expect them to ignore exciting events. If you are doing science experiments or reading interesting passages, invite them to join in if they wish (then quickly return to their original task).
If takes longer than 20 minutes, can be interrupted after that. Focus-student may not cope with much more without a break anyway.
Allow for multisensory activities - seeing/viewing, saying, hearing, feeling/touching, big movement, fine movements, writing and drawing, singing. This will maximize participation and learning.
Much excellent "teaching time" occurs outside what you normally consider lesson time, eg over dinner table, whilst driving, family book reading, whilst washing dishes, gardening etc. Recording those valuable lessons will help you feel less pressure to heap on the academics.
Some lessons may never need formal teaching - they will have been taught/caught since Day Zero - basic hygiene, Australian money and measure, map work, social skills. If the book helps you remember things to teach, fine - but don't feel guilty that you haven't got resources to teach these things.
Have Plan A, Plan B and Plan X. Plan A is the wonderful creative activities involving everyone including you, your ideal method of home education for this activity. Plan B is for when you are sick, the phone keeps ringing, the baby is teething, or you get visitors (etc). Have something ready that you can just say "Go and do..." and they know what to do independently. Plan X is when you feel you need a total break. Instruct the children to just do anything educational without bad attitudes and supply a list to you afterwards. This only works if they have enough discipline to follow through on interests productively. It is not usually easy or beneficial to do too early in your home educating life. Plan X may also include recording "stored" extras, eg places visited in the holidays, literature shared as a family, health lessons taught daily but not usually mentioned, letters written (creative writing), educational television programs, child's own long-term interests, etc.
Do you really need the children to study Grammar every day for 12 years? We don't think so. Incidental teaching when problems arise, plus a crash course about Grade 5 and again grade 8 is ample.
What about spelling? Teach rules when young, and remind as errors occur. Keep list of errors - make mnemonics if necessary; check they have mastered them sometimes.
Rather than several Language Arts subjects in one day (eg reader, grammar, creative writing) think about other ways to organize your schedule. You could timetable different ones for different days of the week, or allow the student to choose each day within certain limitations. Another way is to do one for the start of the year till it is finished to your satisfaction (which may include deleting some lessons), then starting the other subject, etc. Do the same with geography and history, science and health, and similar pairs.
Can you complete required work in less than five days a week? Maybe you could use one day per week or fortnight differently, eg for chores, garden, projects, sport and/or craft with another family, having grandparents over for a meal and presentation, or some other totally different timetable.
Maybe Mum feels she could use an Executive Secretary. Allot one day when the child is your personal assistant and confidant, apprenticed to you in everything - chores, helping littlies, shopping, messages. Make sure it's an enjoyable experience that makes the child feel grown up and appreciated.
If there are stresses and strains in the home, a change in your attitude can be the key. Many pressures are not external at all, but of your own making.
The very most important problem solving skill you need is prayer, preferably with your husband.
I can give you ideas for strategies to try, but ultimately only you, the parents, can ascertain your family's needs, goals and solutions. And you don't have enough wisdom, nor strength, to do this adequately! Go back to the source of the assignment - just as you would want your children to do.
Invest your efforts (prayer, time etc) towards brightening the future!
2 year old sits on lap and listens; draws with crayon if wants.
4 year old tells you the name of the letter ("see")
6 year old tells you the sounds it can make ("k, s")
8 year old tells you the rule, if known, or is told by older child or you.
2, 4 and 6 year olds draw the letter in the air, then on paper, while 8, 10 and 12 repeat the rule aloud.
10 year old writes the rule (12 year old too if necessary).
All brainstorm words containing C. Mum writes words in two columns (one for those where C says "k", one where it says "s"). Mum ensures that enough "s" words are found.
All add to list over the next week.
Teach 6-year-old to identify continents and obvious countries.
Teach 8-year-old as per 4 and 6, and add more countries and oceans.
Teach 10-year-old as per younger ones, and add major capital cities.
As they get older and more capable, add major mountain ranges, deserts, rivers, seas and more cities.
Children can quiz each other if they restrict their questions to what the other child has learned, eg 10 and 12 year olds might each name a city for the other to find. 12 year old must name a European capital for 10 year old to find; 10 year old chooses any African city for 12 year old to find.
Making a time line - it may not be necessary to have the whole time line on one wall. Just as you might have the world map in a different room to the Australia map, you could have different time periods separated. You will need a simple, bright coloured part for younger students and a more detailed one (maybe in book form on a shelf) for older ones. Add to it with tiny icons representing novels read together (etc).
Discuss content of novels, cross-referencing to other knowledge (eg, before major inventions such as the telephone).
Read the novel again in 4-5 years when younger children can assimilate more of the facts.
Have some deeper questions for older students only.
If everyone is studying a different country at the same time, there will be some interesting comparisons.
Have a presentation night when the child can tell everyone about the country. All dress up if you wish. Cook an appropriate meal. Discuss how the country has made use of its limitations and resources (eg climate). Pray for its people and any missionary work you know of there. Play a game appropriate to its culture etc.
Get "Link" worksheets from Voice of the Martyrs, or "Global Digest" or "Operation World". Get the children to create an index to these resources or just to find what they need each time.
Link International is an eight page quarterly for children published by The Voice of the Martyrs. Each issue highlights a nation where the gospel message is restricted and features news and information about the culture of the highlighted country.
Remove all bookmarks. Hold the spine of the Bible, with the other hand flat on the table.
Leader says a reference when all are ready, and then "one, two, GO!"
Participants race to find the verse and read it out.
This is fun if you make a secret message eg take the third word of this verse, second of that etc until you have a sentence.
Bible puzzles like the "Hidden Treasure" books from Trinitarian Bible Society are fun to do together too.
Cooking or baking of course also illustrate by experimenting with Lifesavers or boiled sweets, then applied to real life by dissolving soap in the washing machine or preventing dirt from spreading through water. After the older students learn the science behind the mixture, all the children can enjoy playing with it. Add some classical music or other recording and you have science, music and craft all at once!
Each week, add a new internal organ. Draw it, and have little ones colour and cut it out. Older ones learn all about that organ and what it does for us, and how to look after it, in varying complexity. Young ones only learn name and position.
All place the organ properly. Take care to allow room for organs which must be positioned behind. The following week quiz on previous organs and then add a new one.
Some may be done in more detail by some students than others, eg an asthma patient may need extra work on the lungs, older students on reproductive system.
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