Large Family Homeschool Hack #1: Grouping and Alternating

Today I’m back for Day 2 of my series, How to Homeschool Multiple Children Without Going CrazyYesterday I gave an overview of what I’ll be sharing this week, but today I’m going to get down to the nitty gritty.

Of all the homeschool hacks I’ve learned in my eight years of living this lifestyle, grouping and alternating has been the glue that holds our homeschool together, which is why I’ve chosen to share this one first. It is the foundation our homeschool structure is built upon. (Watch my video on grouping your kids here.)

I know you’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about, so I’ll start with:

Grouping (or separating kids into groups)

One of the biggest time-savers in homeschooling is teaching your kids together, but when you’re a mom of many, this may not always be the easiest thing to do. In theory, it sounds wonderful to have all of your children sitting and learning together all day, but in practice, if you’ve got more than 3 or 4 kids, it may be less than blissful.

Since my favorite unit study resource is appropriate for grades K through 8th, a few years ago, I made the mistake of attempting to homeschool six of my kids all together. It wasn’t pretty. Although the activities were easily adjusted for each child or level, it was too much adjusting at once, and it was making me crazy!

Not wanting to give up on using this curriculum because I’ve never found anything that even comes close to it, I was determined to find a way to make it work.

That’s how my grouping hack began.

I realized how much simpler it would be if I grouped kids according to ages or abilities and taught them together. I was still taking advantage of teaching multiple ages together without going overboard trying to do too many kids at once, which I’ll admit was really tempting to try.

What once started out as two groups has turned into three as more of my children have become school-age, but it still works like a charm.

This is what that looks like this year:

Group One: The Littles (Ages 5, 7, and 8) (and sometimes a 3-yr-old when she feels like it)

Group Two: The Middles (Ages 9, 11, and 12)

Group Three: The Teens (Ages 15, 16, and 17)

I begin our homeschool day working with the Littles (read-aloud, phonics/reading, math, unit study), then move on to working with the Middles (read-aloud, spelling/copywork, math, unit study). My teens are at the age that most of their work is done independently, so they work individually.

This setup is so much more manageable than trying to teach them all at once, but doing two separate unit studies each day was extremely time-consuming, which finally led to the second part of this hack:

Alternating Homeschool Days

I want to immediately point out that this does not mean that my children do not do school everyday. It is their unit study days that I alternate. These alternate days have taken many forms such as:

  • every other day
  • every other week
  • every other unit

Suffice it to say, I only do one unit study per day nowadays, and it’s so much better. The children who are not doing their unit study focus solely on the 3 Rs. That’s it. This may seem to be very bare-bones, but it’s an excellent opportunity for self-directed learning (I’ll be tackling this hack later this week).

Simple, right?

I hope I’ve given you some ideas on simplifying your large family homeschool. Join me tomorrow as I share how to use unit studies in an uncomplicated way. See you then!

This post is a part of iHomeschool Network’s:

Homeschool blogger hopscotch 


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.

19 thoughts on “Large Family Homeschool Hack #1: Grouping and Alternating”

  1. I used to alternate my attention on an hourly basis – but doing it on a daily level is even better! We have to come to a place where we value the other things that fill our kids days so we can shake up our daily patterns this way. This is a post I’ll be sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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