Close in Age

Close in Age

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Dubious in Denver


Dear Dubious,

I cannot speak from experience on this one. I only have 2 kids plus one on the way, and they are fairly far apart in age… What I can say is that I see families doing it and doing it well! These families have a common thread running through them… They have a vision for homeschooling! They have a plan and a purpose. They have committed themselves and their family to something that they believe in 100%. I greatly admire each of them!

Grace & Peace,


Dear Dubious,
This is a common situation with homeschooling families, so you’re not alone. As I mentioned in last week’s post, our own school experience can paralyze us a bit. We need to hearken back to the one-room schoolhouse, which none of us know about except through Little House on the Prairie. Here are a few ideas of how it works:

Grammar – we do a lot of dictation of sentences, and we start with a basic subject/verb sentence. My second grader can identify and/or diagram the basic parts of speech, and my fifth grade student adds clauses and modifiers and diagrams them. This also can serve as a handwriting exercise with the older students using cursive while the younger students print.

History – We like the Story of the World series, and I’ll read the narrative aloud to all the children, and the younger students can answer the most basic comprehension questions; the older students answer more in-depth questions. The older students can write a summary; the younger students can draw a picture and write a simple caption to summarize. I try to find
books at their level to correlate with the history we’re studying.

Science – all students can participate in a science experiment, and the older students can write up lab reports and research the scientific principles of the experiment. Younger students can dictate their results to their mom, and she can write down their findings, and they could even use this for copy work.

Dubious, you can do this!

Peace be with you,


Dearest Dubious,

I think the most overwhelming aspect of homeschooling is looking at the range the educational needs in your own home and wondering how you, the parent, can possibly serve each of your child’s specific needs. Part of the problem for me is that I am looking at modern education and using that as my model. While there are some great advancements made in education, parents have been educating their children since the beginning of time and the modern segregation by grades is a fairly new idea. Actually, it was birthed from the desire to bring education to the masses. Think: small “mom and pops” business to “corporation.” While more and more people grew in their desire to have their children educated, the sheer population of those needing education grew, which created the problem of “how to educate the masses.” Even though this was good problem to face, it does not mean that the old “style” of home education or the “one room school house” was a broken one. It just was not serving the masses, thus the breakdown of education by age.

I have five kids, but I have friends who homeschool with their 10 or 12 kids. Teaching a range of kids takes some creativity and patience. But, I actually feel that home education is more of an organic and natural approach to education. Our little “homeschool” gives my older children a chance to be reviewed on subject matter that may appear “beneath” them, but it offers them reinforcement on core elements that have become familiar, yet are essentials. My younger children overhear discussions on subjects that have not yet been introduced, but it provides them a beginning vocabulary that will eventually give way to understanding. My younger children are often reviewed by my older and sometimes my younger children review my older with vocabulary flashcards. So there is this natural flow of introduction, repetition and review.

I like to think of it this way: I can run my family through McDonalds or I can spend a little extra time, energy and focus to make them a home-cooked meal. While there is a valid need for a McDonalds style education in our fast paced world, I have chosen a home-catered education that is full of life-giving substance that gives way to a long-satisfying healthy education.




I don’t think I can say it any better than Dood, so I’ll just summarize her key points in Bull lingo:

1) Don’t compare apples to oranges. Your school will be different than the factory model. It will look and function differently. And that’s good, because I doubt your true goal is to recreate the public school system at home. So, I think the first thing you need to do is determine, “What are your goals?”

2) Then, establish a routine and stick with it. With a little forethought and preparation, productivity abounds. Without it, days can be lost to good intentions. In the early stages of home-schooling, it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities: uber-smart, obedient children, well-disciplined teens brimming with maturity, and young adults filled with the character to choose wisely. All of these accomplishments are possible, but not without a lot of hard work on your part. Your part comes first, so focus on it first.

3) Recognize and accept that there are sacrifices. We’ve talked about this before, but you can’t maintain a model showroom home, cook every meal from scratch, linger over long lunches with friends, indulge in weekly mani-pedi’s AND oversee a high functioning home-school. Educating your children is a job and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t keep any job for long that you only attended to occasionally. Give it your best — it’s a deserving profession.

I hope you’ll choose home-cooked over McDonald’s. I’m certain you can and that it will be the most satisfying “meal” you’ll ever choose. Bon appetit!


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