How do you homeschool your high schoolers with younger children underfoot? How do you make sure your older kids are prepared when you have so many responsibilities as a homeschool mom of a large family? These tips will help you get organized and focused!
When my oldest was 14, I had the sudden realization that his homeschool years were quickly coming to end and all the wonderful topics, conversations, and curricula we had used over the years needed to culminate into something tangible – a diploma, a transcript, and a purpose for his adult life.
I must admit – it was mind-boggling, and the scramble was only intensified by the fact that at the time I had 5 other children who needed mothering and educating.
But, our family is proof positive that you can homeschool the high school years with little ones underfoot! We are getting ready to graduate our second child and I still have a 2-year-old who makes homeschool days very interesting! Not to mention the 4-year-old…and 6-year-old…and…well, you get the picture.
However, before I lay out what we did, I need to make sure you understand something – what works for our family, may not work for yours. In fact, what worked for my oldest two children may not work for my younger seven. It’s always a learning process, and you have to be willing to shift and change as needed, depending on circumstances and individual needs.
OK, now I feel better…let’s dive in!
What God calls you to, He equips you for.
Remember, what God calls you to, He equips you for. You may feel completely inadequate for the task of homeschooling your high schooler with little ones underfoot, but that’s ok because God is enough. He will place the resources and stamina you need in your life to keep going and finish strong. You will find peace in your decisions and stability in your path.
Train toward independence.
If I could give you one piece of advice that trumps all others, it would be this. From the beginning, be training your children to work independently and make independent decisions. Start small with choices about clothing and snacks when they are toddlers. From there, teach them to work on their math without standing over them or draw a picture without your input. Help them to gain confidence in their ability to figure things out.
The older the children are, the more homeschool subjects should be on autopilot to help them gain even more independence.
By the time your children are high school aged, there should be very few teacher-led subjects, and other than checking in periodically with your child, they should be capable of going through their schoolwork alone.
Anchor the school day.
Something I found to be integral to getting everyone off on the right foot for the homeschool day, is creating a starting point – an anchor of sorts. It grounds your day and creates an undeniable beginning to school work.
Our morning starts with Morning Time which currently consists of Bible, History, Art/Music, and a Read Aloud – and yes, my high schooler participates.
When I was in the thick of baby after baby, our Morning Time was very simple – reading from the Bible and *maybe* a chapter in our current Read-Aloud. (Read Making Morning Time Easy to learn more!)
You can call this anchor whatever you want or call it nothing at all – the name is not the point. All you really need is a consistent start to your homeschool day so that all the kids know it is time to get to business and get the work accomplished. Having your high schooler join the rest of the family for that starting point keeps them engaged in the family life and lets them know you still enjoy homeschooling them.
Is there a routine?
The anchor starts your day, but does everyone know where to go from there? Having a routine helps everyone to stay on track. Mom needs a routine to guide her through working with the younger kids, and older kids need a routine that guides them through their independent work in a particular order that helps them know where the stopping point is. You can learn more about how to set up this kind of routine in the post How to Put Your Homeschool on Autopilot.
Check in with your high schoolers.
When you are homeschooling multiple ages, you will need to touch base with your high schoolers from time to time to make sure they are on track. I often do this at night when the littles are in bed or when I take my daughter out to eat on shopping days.
At this age, they should be capable (and allowed) to give input on their studies – how they think it is going, what could be changed for the better, and any other issues that arise along the way. Listen to them, adjust accordingly, and let them know you value their opinion.
However, always remember…
You are the parent.
Kids learn to manipulate from a very early age, and I’m convinced humans never stop trying to get their own way.
Truly listen to input from your high schoolers, but ultimately, you are the authority in their homeschool. Give them whatever autonomy you can, but never compromise what you know to be important in their lives.
You also do not need to be at the beck and call of your high schoolers. By this age, they should understand that you need to work with the younger kids and can help them later.
Hone your arrows to fly.
Remember, you are raising arrows, not children. They need to grow up and be “shot” out of the nest some day. Therefore, they need an understanding of the adult world and interests that coincide with adult life.
You can’t hang on to your kids forever. You have to let them fly and let them fail. Too many parents hand-hold their kids well past their teenage years, and that doesn’t do anyone any favors. Prepare your high schoolers the best you can, and then learn to see them as adults.
If you are looking for a nuts & bolts plan for your child’s high school years, check out my post – Homeschooling High School – A Simple Plan
And if you need activities to keep your little ones busy while you homeschool your older kids, listen to my podcast on Occupying a Busy Preschooler.
And the best resource out there on homeschooling a larger-than-average family is my book: