How to Homeschool Multiple Ages

by Ivory Soap on 09/18/2012

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Running a one room schoolhouse can be pretty overwhelming, but it can be done!

School Starts With Baby’s Nap

My baby goes back down for a big nap three hours after she gets up in the morning.  So, school time moves depending on how lazy I was that morning.  The key to homeschooling with a baby in the house, is for her to be UNCONSCIOUS.

My baby takes great, LONG naps.  But even I don’t have unlimited baby-free time, so the homeschooling process must be carefully streamlined, if it is to be completed before the whirling dervish awakens.

Start with “Circle Time”

We use a classical curriculum, so there is daily memorization practice across several subjects.  We call it Memory Time, but if your school stresses reading aloud together (Sonlight) or starting with Bible Class, this is the time to do it.  Knock it out at the beginning of the day.

It’s important in “Circle Time” to arrange your recitations in such a way that the little kids are free to play and the big kids get reviewed on previous year’s material.

  1. Gather all of your memory work assignments into one place.  Sit in a comfortable chair and call the children to school time.
  2. Starting with the YOUNGEST member, go through all of each student’s subjects rapid fire.  1st grade poetry, phonics, religion.  Turn him loose.  Third grade poetry, phonics, religion, then I hand her the Latin and date cards to practice while I rehearse the oldest.  Turn her loose.  4th grade poetry and religion.  Don’t turn him loose.
  3. Put the memory work away, keeping Mr. Oldest at the table.

Independent Work Time

Now we’re going to reverse the process.  Just like there was no need for the youngest to sit through all the rest of the kids’ recitation before he did his own, there’s no need for the oldest to sit around twiddling thumbs when he could be working on his own.

  1. Get out ALL of the work the oldest can do without you and get him started on the stack.  For us, that means almost everything except spelling, language arts, and some of the more difficult history and religion reading. He can do his Latin, math, art, science, music, and geography on his own.
  2. Once he’s started, call over the next youngest and set her up with all the work that she can do alone.  For us, it’s less than the oldest, but there are a few subjects that she can do without me.  Music, art, copywork and illustrations.
  3. Then I grab the youngest and sit him down for his handwriting while I read over his assignments.

Work-With-Me Time

  1. Since I have the youngest school-age child in my clutches and the others are occupied, I go ahead and do all of his with-me work.  It’s just math, religion, and reading, since we did all his memorization already.  Then I turn him loose.  “I’m done, done, done?”  Yes.  Sometimes he wants to do more “big boy” math worksheets or computer work, so I set him up with something that isn’t required and doesn’t have to be supervised.
  2. By now, the middle kid is usually finished with her independent work and ready to see me.  We do her language arts, reading, history…everything except spelling, because they share that subject.
  3. I retrieve the oldest, who is generally finished with his work by now and playing in the back with the third child.  We do spelling together.
  4. Then I turn the middle kid loose and finish up with whatever little bit of with-me work the fourth grader has left.


  • Put the baby to bed.
  • Do all your memory work in one sitting, working YOUNGEST TO OLDEST.
  • Start the children on their independent work, working from OLDEST TO YOUNGEST.
  • Do the with-mama work, going YOUNGEST TO OLDEST.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cynthia C September 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm

this is our first year with MODG – I have three 3rd graders and a 1st grader (and we’re also doing CCM in a co-op every other week – so we have a plethora of memory work). I just can’t figure to how to schedule myself so I have more one on one time with each one – I feel like my only option is to teach a mini-classroom – any suggestions? I made a cute little mini-binder for our “from the roots up” words and binders for our memory work – using some of your suggestions. But it seems like ALL read alouds! Any suggestions?

Ivory Soap September 24, 2012 at 9:06 am

I’m emailing you so I can help you work it out.

Lindsay September 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm

All I want to know is *what* do you feed that baby to get such a long nap? My first two napped like that. By a few months old we had long morning nap and long afternoon nap. This one cat-naps all day. She sleeps all night long, so I don’t complain, but school has become increasingly frustrating with a baby constantly interrupting.

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