@JW -- I hear you! My kids can't school together either, despite being close in age, they are far apart academically. The older one is gifted, and the younger one is visually impaired and competitive. Anything she does with her sister results in huge frustration because (a) she can't read long without fatiguing and (b) anything she can't do better than her big sister leaves her in tears.
My older one is doing a couple of co-op classes this year to ease my workload. (The younger one also goes, but just takes fun stuff like PE.) I've also been researching online and other options as well.
A lovely post, and surprisingly similar to the advice I give new homeschoolers at times. Combining children into the same subject matter isn't about graduating them at the same time; it's about the family studying the same thing each on his own level, fostering family togetherness. My 7th and 5th graders are doing the wonderful Sonlight Core 5, the Eastern Hemisphere geography Core, and worked together on researching specific details of Japan's history yesterday using an encyclopedia CDrom. My 1st grader and preschooler listened while I read about a Japanese boy from the book Children Just Like Me. Then we all got together while I read a chapter book aloud about Japanese puppeteers, the Banraku art form, and while I did that they all did origami and practiced using chop sticks. THAT is what it's all about.
As they grow there will come a separating, I know that. Even now the older two are working separately and independently in Science. But I still have a couple years left of everyone together, before the oldest will quietly move into his own thing in all areas, probably sometime in the 9th or 10th grade.
Lastly, I mostly posted to address the idea that vocabulary doesn't have to be separate. Yesterday my 7th and 5th graders both learned monologue and dialogue, with special attention paid to the meaning of the prefixes. Does it matter that they learned these words at two different ages, as long as they both learned them? Our vocabulary studies are a natural outflowing of the literature we read together, so I cannot imagine having them separated in it. Of course, I am mostly referring to my children that are close in grade, not the ones that are 4 or more years different.
Great post, Lee. I often run across new hsing moms at work, and I can use this post as a referral. It IS hard to suggest to others where to begin, particularly when their kids are older. You give great advice, a good starting point and encouragement.
There might also come a time when one has to admit that schooling one's children together is not going to happen. Every homeschool mom told me when my children were toddler and baby, "Oh, they're only 2 years apart in age, you can school them together!" Nowadays, I estimate a six year academic gap between them in most subjects. Not only that, I cannot hand down my older child's curriculum (Sonlight). I love Sonlight, but with my younger child, I have to use a curriculum that drives me absolutely nuts. However, the other curriculum works for that child. I thank God every day that my older child is an independent worker (she loves having me out of her hair - believe me). The only subjects I can have my children study together are French and Geography because all three of us (yes, that means me) started studying together. That's it.
It was very hard giving up the dream of two children chitchatting away about their history lesson over lunch. I won't be graduating them at the same time, like some families can. My working hours begin earlier and end later in the day than many homeschool families. Not to mention it's a hassle (and a bit of a wrench, really) selling the older child's school books in order to partially finance the younger child's curriculum. These are hard truths that I've come to accept, and even in a way embrace because both children are thriving. Every day is a triumph.
I needed to read this today. It's only the middle of September and I already feel "behind". I just brought home my second daughter from Ethiopia and am now tasked with educating two 8-year-old girls who are at very different places. We are using Sonlight which will make things easier - but I'm still worried about where to start, how to start, and let's face it - when to start (I'm so tired from the travel/time changes LOL).
Thanks for this positive message. It came at the perfect time.
Sometimes, I post something that really strikes the heart of my readers. An old post I had about measuring character qualities other than academic ones, was one of those posts.
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