I am asked this question (or some version of it) many times. I have 5 small people. There are 4 different grade levels represented in those 5 people. Some grade levels need more of my time than others. Some subjects need more of my time than others. Scheduling is extremely important for my family to have a successful day.
- Have a written schedule. Without a schedule, it is so easy for important things to be left undone. We can get to the end of our school day, and I'll find that I've forgotten to teach somebody something. Having a schedule also makes transition times go more smoothly. There is no questioning, "What are we doing next?" The small people know that our day flows in a certain order so we can move from one subject to the next without a lot of wasted time.
- Combine small people for as many subjects as possible. Some subjects lend themselves to combining more than others. Bible, history, and science are much easier to teach to multiple ages and levels than math or grammar. All 5 small people are together for Bible time. Then I teach history to the older 4 together. For science, The Boy works independently, and the older 3 girls are working together.
- Schedule independent work times for all small people. This frees you up to teach subjects that are more teacher intensive. Even my 5 year old can work on activities independently while I teach the older children science, math, etc.
- Stick to the schedule. If you have the written schedule from point 1, but you don't follow it, it's pretty much useless. Allowing one subject to take more than its allotted time is tempting but can cause the day to go spinning out of control, and before you know it, you don't have time to teach math or grammar or some equally important subject. (Ask me how I know this!) If history is scheduled from 8:30-9:15, then at 9:15, we are done, whether or not we finished everything I wanted to do. It will still be there the next day. Now I'm not saying you can't take an extra minute or two to finish something up. If, however, we get so fascinated by a subject that we need (or want) to take more time learning about it, then I add that to our lessons for the next day or the next week.
If you homeschool more than 1 child, do you use a schedule?