Once upon a time, I homeschooled one child. But that didn’t last long. Next thing I knew, I had a houseful of homeschoolers! Currently, I have a preschooler, a couple in elementary school, one in junior high and another in high school! Oh, the crazy fun we have!
Before you read any further, take a second to bookmark my post on using The One-Room Schoolhouse Model of homeschooling. You will want to read it. Trust me. 😉
In the One-Room Schoolhouse post, I talk about the “trickle-down effect”. Today, I want to talk about “chain-link learning.” The trickle-down effect acknowledges that younger children naturally pick up on what their older siblings are learning. Chain-link learning is more purposeful. This is the act of actually connecting the youngers with the olders to create a learning opportunity.
So, let me give you some practical application ideas so you can easily start doing this in your homeschool!
Learn – Teach – Learn
This type of chain-linking focuses on teaching the older children something that can then be translated by them into a lesson for the younger children. For instance, my older children are learning about Early American History. I had them put together a lapbook on Colonial America, but rather than completing the lapbook themselves, they helped their younger siblings complete the lapbook.
Another example would be how my high schooler does his science experiments and then gathers all the other children around to look through the microscope while he explains what he’s been doing in science and what they are looking at through the lens.
The first example was something I put together. The second example just happened. The more you set up this kind of chain-linking, the more likely your children will find their own opportunities to follow the Learn-Teach-Learn example.
In my opinion, this kind of chain-linking should be kept to a minimum. On occasion, it is perfectly acceptable to have an older child team up with a younger child and actually teach a lesson or help out with a workbook. This gives the older child practice at leading and the younger child practice at learning from someone other than mom. Both have their advantages, but beware not to abuse this convenience. You are mom and they need you.
Plan – Participate
This kind of chain-linking is downright fun! This is what happens when you have an end-of-learning party or a field trip that goes with something you are learning. So for instance, when we finished our Medieval Time Period in history, we planned a Medieval Feast. We included things that could be done by both the older crowd and the younger crowd. The older children presented papers and the younger children did crafts. Everyone planned, everyone participated. Everyone had a blast!
If you are looking for more ideas on teaching multiple ages, I’d encourage you to check out the Google+ Hangout I participated in a few weeks ago on this very topic. In fact, on my YouTube page you can find a playlist for all the Mama’s Learning Corner Hangouts I’ve been a panelist on. These are 30 minute videos featuring moms just like you answering questions on topics that appeal to nearly every homeschool mom out there. Enjoy!