Are You Feeling Overwhelmed By Homeschooling Your Big Family?

Find out how I changed our homeschool schedule to relieve the stress!

homeschooling big family

I know I write an awful lot about how keeping your homeschool simple will save you a lot of headaches.

 But one thing I feel the need to point out is that it will never be perfect. You may certainly find a routine that fits your lifestyle very well, but there may inevitably be a time when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the same schedule that you once thought was a godsend. 

I know. I’ve been there.

Last year, after strictly focusing on only spelling and math with my ‘littles’ and doing unit studies and the three R’s with my older children (not the teens), I began to feel nostalgic about Five in a Row because that was the first curriculum I ever used, so I bought it and started using it with the littles, in addition to what they were already doing.

Now let me be very clear about one thing- Five in a Row is extremely simple to use and is not time-consuming at all, but…when I added it on to what we were already doing, it made our homeschool days very, very long. And if you’re familiar with me at all, you know that I prefer to keep our homeschool activities brief so that my children have plenty of time to pursue their interests.

I guess most people would have just stopped using it, but the kids and I were enjoying it so much that I found it valuable enough to tweak our homeschool schedule just a bit.

Since we are homeschooling ten kids, I’ve broken our kids into three groups, which is where I got the names I used above (littles, older children, and teens). Using unit studies in our homeschool has made life so much simpler and more fun, but because there are so many kids and such a big age difference, I use two separate unit study curriculums. (Our older kids use Konos.)

I assume you’re starting to see the problem here…

It was just too much to do both unit studies every single day. Due to our past experience with unschooling, I recognize how naturally kids learn from everyday living, so that gave me the confidence to come up with this solution:

Alternate unit study days.

This has been such a quick and easy solution, and we are all absolutely thriving with this new schedule. Here is a basic example of what our weekly schedules typically look like now::

M, W, F-

 Littles- phonics/math; FIAR read-aloud; two FIAR activities

Older Kids- spelling/math; notebooking page for read-aloud; silent reading  

T, Th-

Littles- phonics/math; read-aloud

Older Kids- spelling/math; read-aloud; silent reading; two Konos activities; Konos notebooking page

The following week, we’ll just switch days and have the littles do their unit twice a week and the older kids three times a week.

Keep in mind that this is a very simplified version of what we do. Some days the littles may do a lapbook. Sometimes the older kids will do grammar instead of spelling. And for those of you who may be gasping at what seems like a bare bones schedule- you’d be surprised how much can be covered simply by reading and notebooking. I don’t always choose the books my older kids read, but when I do, I choose them very carefully so as to make sure they’re being exposed to different concepts. Right now, they’re all reading biographies of scientists, and I’m reading Peter Pan aloud to them. For those of you who like to check things off, besides reading, these books are covering science, history, and classic literature. There’s no need to separate every subject. The real world isn’t like that anyway, is it?

Don’t use unit studies? No problem!

This solution isn’t limited to only those who use unit studies. The same could be done with textbooks (history and science might be good ones to alternate). In fact, you could even do this with one child if you’re feeling like your homeschool is too bogged down by school work and not enough time for free play and exploration.

Taking advantage of the flexibility available with homeschooling is crucial to finding something that works for your family.

Tell me…what are some of the most helpful changes you’ve made in your homeschool?






Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

36 thoughts on “Are You Feeling Overwhelmed By Homeschooling Your Big Family?”

  1. Having moved from elementary to middle school I was curious if stations could be transitioned as well… Thanks for the great blog post. I’m very excited to try it in my room next year.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s amazing that you homeschool – it must be so much organisation. But sounds like you’ve found something that works for your family…I’m a massive believer of adopting little changes where you need to, to make things work for you. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard great things about FIAR and am thinking of trying it with our Preschooler. Sounds like you’ve got a great rhythm in place for your homeschool.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so encouraging, and I love your solution! I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed with my five right now, but it’s not our curriculum – it’s that my 17 month old is so needy right now! I keep breathing and reminding myself that this is a phase and it will pass. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, good for you homeschooling ten kids. I can see how that would be overwhelming. I am overwhelmed at the thought of homeschooling one or two, lol. Thanks so much for sharing your tips at the Family Joy linkup! Hope to see you again next Sunday!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is so awesome! I imagine you have tons to share-what with the homeschooling TEN KIDS and all!! I do plan on homeschooling (though I only have one for now), and I really think organization is important no matter how many children you’re teaching. I bet the teens are super helpful with the younger ones if you need them to be. Thanks so much for sharing! ❤ #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t have experience of homeschooling ( although I am a teacher and I look after Arthur, my 19 month old, at home) so a lot of this went a little bit over my head I will admit! I think there is a lot of terminology you use that I don’t recognise – but i am absolutely positive that for those parents following the same path as you that this will be a really helpful post! Just like when i was obsessed with reading other people’s baby schedules etc when Arthur was small. I do a lot of learning through play activities with arthur at home, and at school I specialised in Early Years with a focus on play based learning and active play – I stayed as far away as possible from formal ‘sitting on a chair at a desk’ learning as possible because i think these kind of constraints at an early age can really hinder not only learning, but also the enjoyment of learning. Learning through real life experiences makes the best connections in their little minds and making things as fun as possible so that they are more likely to remember it. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My 9 yr old son went to school for two months for pre-K, and I loved his teacher because she, also, valued play as the best form of learning. I do know that many of the parents just didn’t get it, but I was ecstatic that she felt that way.


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