A day in the life of Homeschooling Multiple Ages

a day in the life of homeschool | homeschooling multiple ages | homeschooling ADHD, dyslexia

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is that we can all learn together as a family, and yet that also presents one of the greatest challenges—homeschooling multiple ages. I’ve homeschooled while pregnant, with a newborn, through the destructive toddler years, while potty training, into the preschool stage; and now, my youngest is finally kindergarten. Each stage has its challenges, and our routine has looked different at each stage, sometimes changing throughout the year. But no matter what our current challenges are or how I change the routine, a few principles have remained constant and made a world of difference in successfully homeschooling multiple ages.

Quick Tips for Homeschooling Multiple Ages

  • Budget your time.
  • Combine all that you can.
  • Don’t try to do it all.
  • Less is more.
  • Train independence.

A day in the life of

Homeschooling Multiple Ages

Though not everyday is exactly the same, most days we participate in our extracurriculars in the morning and begin schoolwork after lunch. Monday afternoons, I devote to my oldest. We meet together for a couple of hours with a cup of coffee or tea and go over the last week’s work, the new week’s assignments, and our Tapestry of Grace history and literature discussions. It’s also our video and game day, which means that my younger ones watch geography and Spanish videos, play learning games, or work on projects; they are occupied with these special activities that I only offer them once a week, which allows me some (more or less) uninterrupted time with my sixth grader. The rest of the week, he works pretty independently, checking in with me only if he has a problem or question.

 

On the other four days, I work with my kids from youngest to oldest, starting with my kindergartener. Together, my youngest and I work on phonics (Logic of English Foundations B), math (a mix of RightStart Math A and Math Mammoth 1), and handwriting for about an hour. Then, he goes off to play legos, and I switch my attention to my fourth grader. She’s dyslexic and ADHD; between her learning challenges and anxieties plus the ADHD distraction, working on her own is sometimes challenging. Because I cannot work with her in every subject every day, I budget my time with her. We work together for about an hour and a half in a block schedule. On certain days, I work with her in RightStart Math and Easy Grammar; other days we work on writing and comprehension skills. She then works for about another hour and a half on some copy work activities, reading, and craft projects. A couple of days a week, I’ll wrap up our homeschool day by working with my oldest for about 20 min. in his grammar, using the Abeka 6th grade grammar workbook. We read through the instructions together, and I’ll have him work through a certain number of sentences until I’m confident he’s grasped it. (By no means do we work every problem or even every exercise.)

 

For history, I choose a read-aloud for the lunch hour and assign some independent reading and projects for my older kids to do on their own. Science is another independent subject for my kiddos. My oldest works on his own throughout the week in his Elemental Science Biology for the Logic Stage, while my daughter is reading through the Thornton Burgess Book of Birds and Book of Animals and choosing projects about the animals in her stories.

On a good day, we will finish up around 3:30 or 4, but of course, there are those days when I wrap up our day just in time to start dinner.

Homeschooling multiple ages is a work in progress. It’s about finding a groove that works for one stage in your life, and being willing to make adjustments as your kids grow and change. It’s about looking at your whole day to find the best moments for learning. It’s about seeing all the opportunities in your day. It’s about thinking outside the box and taking advantage of all that homeschool freedom and flexibility. 

Homeschooling ADHD with Charlotte Mason

homeschooling ADHD with Charlotte Mason

I have poignant memories of the chaos and trauma of those years right before we realized two of our kids had ADHD. The rages, the sensory issues, the meltdowns, the distraction, the hyperactivity! While early on we had embraced the classical method of education for our homeschool, I was drowning in the ADHD chaos. Trying to enforce a rigid daily structure with lots of memory work was a constant uphill battle. Additionally, our family was also experiencing different health issues at the time. My husband was going in for his second back surgery when I picked up Karen Andreola’s Charlotte Mason Companion to read in the waiting room. Within just a couple of hours, I devoured that book. It was a breath of fresh inspiration, the grace I needed to navigate our torrent of homeschool challenges. Homeschooling ADHD with Charlotte Mason’s ideas became a game-changer, even a life-changer for us.

While I don’t adhere to everything Charlotte Mason, I really appreciated the outlook she had on children and education in general and her practical tips for maintaining a healthy love for learning. Charlotte Mason changed how I approached homeschooling ADHD kiddos.

Homeschooling ADHD with Charlotte Mason

Soon after my kids’ were diagnosed with ADHD, my pediatrician recommended a popular book on the topic. I hated it. I hated that the focus was largely on how hard life with ADHD would be. I already knew that. I lived it daily. I wanted to hear something positive. As I read Charlotte Mason’s ideas about children and people, I loved how she helped me gain perspective in those hard moments.

“We all have need to be trained to see, and to have our eyes opened before we can take in the joy that is meant for us in this beautiful life.”

I needed to train myself to look for those positives. The struggles were obvious, but what were the triumphs? What were my kids excellent at? What did ADHD give them? For my kids, ADHD gives them an incredible enthusiasm for life, for adventure, for change. They love people and the spontaneity of life as a pastor’s family. They are highly creative and innovative. They rarely use anything for it’s intended purpose, and very often think of solutions most people would never see. They are idea-machines! They have more ideas in a single day than some people have in a lifetime. And my kids are flat-out funny! Oh my goodness, we are never short on laughs. In the daily grind, it’s not always easy to remember these positives. We have to train ourselves to see the beauty and joy.

“A child is a person in whom all possibilities are present – present now at this very moment – not to be educed after many years and efforts manifold on the part of the educator.”

Parenting is far from easy. In the midst of training who they will be, we can’t lose sight of who they already are. We tried ADHD meds for a year before deciding to treat it with diet changes. And I’m so thankful for that time. It allowed me to get my head above water and see the connection between what my kids ate and their behavior so that we could make permanent diet changes to help them. And both the meds and the diet allowed me to see who my children really were, beyond the moods and meltdowns and rages and behavior problems.

The possibilities are already present in each child. Look for them! Some days you may have to look hard, but they are there. You aren’t just educating their future possibilities; our children are full of possibility each day.

“We attempt to define a person, the most commonplace person we know, but he will not submit to bounds; some unexpected beauty of nature breaks out; we find he is not what we thought, and begin to suspect that every person exceeds our power of measurement.”

It is so hard to see people make judgements based on what they know or think they know about ADHD or your child. But honestly, we are all guilty of that. Even as parents, we can easily fall into this trap of attempting to define who our children are. But every person exceeds our power of measurement. ADHD kids know no bounds! That’s the best and worst of every day. They will exceed every measurement and every expectation. They go far above and beyond even where you want them to be. I am often surprised and humbled by my children; they are not always what I think, and they often exceed all power of measurement.

“Look on education as something between the child’s soul and God. Modern Education tends to look on it as something between the child’s brain and the standardized test.”

homeschooling charlotte mason | homeschooling ADHD

“Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.”

Charlotte Mason reminded me that my job as a homeschool parent was to nurture much more than the just the brain. Homeschooling ADHD with Charlotte Mason challenged me to think of educating them emotionally, spiritually, and physically as well as mentally. This one aspect of Charlotte Mason gave me enormous freedom. So many days I would get discouraged about what didn’t get done academically; we’d spent the whole day talking through intense moods and character and behavior. There were days when I felt I did more counseling than teaching. And yet, Charlotte Mason reminded me that I was teaching, that this counseling and working through BIG FEELINGS was as much part of their education as math or reading. I am educating them for living and for life, not just for college and career.

“Give your child a single valuable idea, and you have done more for his education than if you had laid upon his mind the burden of bushels of information.”

homeschooling charlotte mason | homeschooling ADHD charlotte mason

“So much for the right books; the right use of them is another matter. The children must enjoy the book. The ideas it holds must each make that sudden, delightful impact upon their minds, must cause that intellectual stir, which mark the inception of an idea.”

“For the mind is capable of dealing with only one kind of food; it lives, grows and is nourished upon ideas only; mere information is to it as a meal of sawdust to the body; there are no organs for the assimilation of the one more than of the other.”

“Education is a life; that life is sustained on ideas; ideas are of spiritual origin, and that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another. The duty of parents is to sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food.”

Charlotte Mason has a lot to say about ideas. Ideas vs. facts—that is the cornerstone of the Charlotte Mason homeschooling, and the key to recharging our homeschool. I’ve mentioned already my kids are a fountain of ideas, constantly. When I switched our focus from simply memorizing facts to capturing and connecting with ideas, our homeschool turned 180 degrees. It was night and day difference. What did this look like? Instead of battling my kids to memorize timelines and facts, we read about people and wrote in the dates to the timeline that my child connected with. I stopped forcing quantity and chose a smaller assortment of content and facts that we could savor and enjoy. My kids remembered people and events because they connected with the ideas that resonated with them; they began empathizing and identifying with the people we read about. They remembered those connections for years, long after they forgot the memorized facts.

Other practical aspects of Charlotte Mason that we use to homeschool ADHD include:

  • Short lessons and lots of variety. For my younger kids, lessons are no longer than 15-20 minutes. Their sharp, fast minds learn a lot in a short time and then have to move on. Staying longer on a topic does not teach them any more; it just frustrates all of us. Even for my sixth grader, most subjects are 15-20 minutes with a couple of subjects (like math)  taking him 30 min.
  • Nature Study and outdoor time. Fresh air can do more for my kids’ moods than anything else. I’m an introvert and a home-body, but I’ve learned the importance of getting us all outside regularly. 
  • Variety and handicrafts. As part of embracing the education of the whole child, Charlotte Mason recommends a lot of variety and arts and handicraft. I’ve allowed a very loose definition of handicraft as any craft done by hand: duct-tape projects, rubber band bracelets, paracord crafts, crocheting, drawing, woodwork, making paper airplanes, sewing felt animals or monsters, building paper minecraft villages, legos, etc. Their hands are busy, and their creativity is nurtured as much as their intellect.

We are still a pretty solid mix of both classical and Charlotte Mason. A day in the life of our homeschool would clearly show a blend of both of these methods, but the Charlotte Mason method has enriched our homeschool immensely. Homeschooling ADHD with Charlotte Mason is a joy, a beautiful mess of ideas, and an atmosphere of rambunctious learning.

15 Reasons Why I Love Homeschooling ADHD

15 reasons why I love homeschooling ADHD

Homeschooling ADHD is no walk in the park. There are challenges, road blocks, and bad days. I have a house full of ADHD, and there are days when I think I may lose my mind. But that’s only a part of our story, only one side of ADHD. Unfortunately, it’s often the side of ADHD that gets the most attention—the struggle. But there is also delight, creativity, and lots and lots of laughter. They are curious, loud, distracted, innovative, messy, and intense. I love homeschooling ADHD!

Whether you are considering homeschooling your ADHD child, in the midst of the struggle, or just curious what it might be like, here are my top 15 reasons why I love homeschooling ADHD.

15 Reasons Why I Love Homeschooling ADHD

  1. Time for breaks. We can arrange our routine around their best times for learning and allow for plenty of movement breaks. (Check out our favorite movement breaks here.)
  2. Customized Learning Plan. Each of my children is very different. Creating a custom learning plan that fits their personality, learning style, interests, and strengths is a highlight of homeschooling.
  3. Whole Family Learning. I love that we can learn together and that my kids can share and help each other in the process.
  4. Ability to Pursue Passions and Interests. My kids have plenty of time to pursue the things that interest them. Our homeschool lessons are short, their busy minds learn quickly, and we move along, allowing for a lot of variety.
  5. Opportunity to Move. In addition to movement breaks, learning at home allows my kids to move and fidget and bounce while they are learning.
  6. Freedom to be Unique. My kids can be just as unique and awesome as they were created to be. They can enjoy what they love, and no one tells them otherwise.
  7. No Bullying. Obviously, I can’t protect my kids from all the bullying that may take place in different social settings, but at home in our learning environment, I can create a safe place for them to pursue their interests, overcome their struggles, and love learning without bullying or shaming.
  8. No Labels or Stereotypes. We talk about ADHD and dyslexia. My kids are aware of the terms and what those particular struggles mean. It helps them to understand what is happening in them and to them in those hard moments. But it’s a well-rounded discussion. They are also aware of the awesome strengths of creativity and innovation that come with this particular way their minds work.
  9. Controlled Distractions. Sometimes, ironically, my kids need more stimulation to focus; they actually need stuff going on around them to help them concentrate. In other subject areas or assignments, they need absolute silence. I can help them navigate this and learn solutions that help them. I’m not coddling or manipulating the environment, but I am helping them to identify what they need to succeed and how to think through a solution.
  10. Creative Learning Approaches. This is my favorite. I love seeing their ideas for how to learn. I determine the “what,” but the “how” is often an area I allow them to have in-put. The result, lots of creative ideas for hands-on learning!
  11. Emphasis on Strengths. The best way to learn is through a strength. My son loves to learn through drawing, building, and technology. My daughter loves to learn through art. My littlest loves to learn through drama and pretend. By tackling their areas of weakness through an area of strength, my kids are able to work through the areas where they struggle or have some anxieties via an area where they are confident and capable.
  12. Room to Improve. My kids’ ADHD and dyslexia forces me to be a better teacher and parent. They force me to do things and find solutions I wouldn’t have attempted on my own. Homeschooling ADHD stretches me and provides a space for me to grow and improve. My kids teach me! And I’m a better person because of them.
  13. Freedom to Be Different. We get to embrace the family that we are. “Your kids are all so very different,” someone recently told me. “I love it. It means you let them be who they are; they are comfortable being different.” Yes, yes, they are. Lol!
  14. Flexible Routine/Scheduling. Mornings with ADHD are tough. It’s our worst learning time. Their energy and creativity are at their peak, their moods are most intense, and morning learning has always been a struggle. So most of the week, we explore and participate in extra-curriculars in the morning and homeschool in the afternoon. We take off the days my pastor-husband has off and homeschool when he works. We create a learning routine that fits our family.
  15. A Place to Thrive. There is no greater joy than knowing my kids love learning and excel at it, in spite of what others may consider a disability or a disorder. That’s not to say that we don’t have our struggles and our bad days. This year, in particular, I’ve had to go back to the drawing board and redo nearly every subject because of struggles I didn’t foresee. But I have the freedom and the blessing to go back to that drawing board any time.

Homeschooling ADHD isn’t easy. Roses have thorns, and rainbows need rain. There’s an undeniable struggle that comes in this journey. But there are roses and rainbows. The daily might be a struggle, but the big picture is that they are thriving and learning and bringing to life all of that creative energy and enthusiasm that makes them uniquely them. And this, my friend, is the real reason I love homeschooling ADHD.