Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Homeschooling When You Teach Different Grades

People have so many different reactions when they find out we home school.  I get asked about why we home school when we live in a great public school district.  I get asked what made us start to home school.  I get asked if I will teach them all the way through high school.  I have people that are truly excited for us and I've had experiences with all the negative questions people ask.  One of the biggest responses I get when people find out that we home school is: "I could never do teach my own kids, I am not patient enough to do it."  Honestly, me neither.  I am really not a patient person at all.  Wait and see, as an answer, drives me nuts.  It has truly taken A LOT of prayer and learning on my end for me to become a more patient person, but learning patience has been extremely necessary on my part for life and especially for our home school.

What does my being patient have to do with our home school?  EVERYTHING!  It really does.  You see I home school both of our kids and while that in itself isn't such a big deal, the fact that they are in two (2) completely different grades is huge.  Teaching two different grades every day isn't the hardest task in the world, but it does require patience, planning, and preparation.  I set the tone for our school day since I am the teacher and I find that our days go much better when I am patient, we have a plan, and I am prepared.  I guarantee you that if I didn't have my 3 P's (patience, planning, and preparation) our day would not go well at all.

So how do I do it?  How do I home school when I teach different grades?  How do you teach 7th grade and 2nd grade in the same day?  I began my planning before school ever began this past fall.  I looked through our curriculum and planned out roughly how long our school day should take for each child.  Obviously school for my 7th grader takes longer than school for my 2nd grader.  We do pretty much the same subjects for each grade (my 7th grader has a few more electives) each day, but they take different amounts of time because of the difficulty level of the work.  Once I knew approximately how long each school day would take for each student, I planned a start time for our school.  It works out great in our home because my early riser is my 7th grader.  My 7th grader has always been a morning person and would be up before the sun if he was allowed to be.  So his school day starts first.  This does two things in our school.  One - it allows me time to work one on one with him and get the subjects we work through together done right away (we use Sonlight and they have readers that the teacher reads to the student and readers the student reads to the teacher).  Two - it gives my second grader time to get up, wake up, and take a slower approach to her morning which she really needs.  She is my night owl and just doesn't wake up well if she is rushed (she has earned her nickname Beast when she is forced awake).

The next thing I do as part of my planning and preparation is to list the books each child will need for the following day on our patio door which doubles as our "marker board" when we work around our dining room table which is 90% of the time.  When each child knows what books to grab, they can have them right where they are working and there is no wasting time looking for books in the middle of lessons.  We also make sure that at the end of each day each child puts their books back on their shelves and puts away their supplies (they each have a caddy for their pencils, pens, erasers, etc).  Then it just comes down to the work.  We rotate what we do.  I work with the 7th grader first on anything we have to read aloud - readers, history, Bible, etc.  While he is reading my 2nd grader is doing her book work - math, spelling, handwriting, etc.  She will ask questions and get help while I am working with my 7th grader, but she is really good about trying her best to figure it out before asking.  When I am done reading with the 7th grader, we flip flop.  He does his math, science, Spanish, grammar, language arts, etc.  I should also tell you that when I initially work with him on the reading we will go over what he does in these subjects so that he can work quietly while I read with the 2nd grader.  He already knows what to do so he is set to work independently.  He does have questions, but he does a good job of setting work aside when he gets stuck and starting on the next subject until I am at a point he can ask questions (this is totally a learned thing that took many years of practicing to get down). While he does his quiet work, I do the reading with the 2nd grader.  She reads to me and I read to her.  Any work not done by 1:00 pm is homework.  This was a tough place for me to draw the line, but I had to do it otherwise the kids would take a very long lunch break and we wouldn't finish school until almost 5:00pm.  That made supper late and my housework would not get done.  So we set the rule of anything not done by 1:00 becomes homework and the kids know that and respect it so they work hard not to have homework.

Our "Marker Board"

As you can see patience is a large part of our school.  I have to be patient when explaining concepts to the kids, they have to be patient with me because there are two of them in two different grades and only one of me, and they have to be patient with each other so they realize the other student needs my time too.  It is a fine balance of patience and I am sure it looks a little different each day, but we make it through.  We make it through one day at a time by God's grace and the patience He has taught me to give.  It isn't always easy teaching two different grades and it doesn't always work perfectly, but I do love teaching my kids and I will tell you that it is possible.  You just have to find what works best for you and your school and it is a process of trial and error, praying, and patience.

This week I am linking this post up with my other Review Crew buddies.  We are all writing about our different home school situations.  I hope you click the banner and read what they have to say too.  (The link will be live on Friday, 2/5).

How Do I Homeschool When ... ?


  1. What God call us to, He will provide for. Patience included! I totally agree. I have never thought of myself as patient but if I don't have that particular characteristic in place for the day, things don't go well. Love the way you shared this and the way your day is planned out with help/independence working hand in hand. - Lori

    1. Thanks!!! I completely agree. God constantly provides patience for me.


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