Choosing curriculum can be one of the most exciting parts of homeschooling. You get to research tons of different homeschooling methods and find each curriculum that fits your method. Then you can narrow it based on your budget, and your kiddos’ learning styles. So. Much. Research!
Okay, so if you’re not a research nerd like me, that might not sound super fun. I promise it doesn’t need to be as overwhelming as we homeschoolers make it seem! Thankfully I’ve put together this handy guide with everything you need to know about choosing curriculum for the large family!
Everything You Need to Know About Choosing Curriculum for the Large Family
When you’re choosing curriculum for your large family homeschool, there are a few things to keep in mind. You need to know which subjects you’ll do together as a family and which will be kept separate. You’ll need to consider outsourcing and whether or not it’s the right plan for your homeschool. Plus I’m going to challenge you to consider the “life learning” that happens every day in a large family without a specific curriculum!
One of the first things you should do before choosing curriculum for your large family is consider which subjects you’re going to have each of your kids do individually. (Note: individually, not independently, these are totally separate things!)
In our homeschool, we have previously kept each subject individual, and let me tell you that was one of the biggest possible mistakes we could make!
This year we’re taking an entirely new direction! The only individual subject we will have will be math. We need math to be individual because Mr. C is beginning fourth grade, and A-Man is doing kindergarten. It’s just not a subject we can combine. (Though Cap’n M will be joining in some of A-Man’s lessons…. but I digress!)
Together subjects are the large family homeschool mom’s bread and butter. See, if you had to teach your 4 or 5 or 6 kids each of their subjects individually, you’d be doing school 24/7 and still not fit it all in. With together subjects, you can kill two birds with one stone!
The most common together subjects you’ll find in large family homeschools are history and science. Because those topics can be hands-on and are simple to teach the same lesson at each kids’ level, they tend to be the go-to.
For example, you can pull together a lesson on the ocean and your preschooler can listen to ocean read alouds and play with an ocean-themed sensory bin, your early elementary kiddo can find some early readers about ocean life and fill in some simple worksheets, and your upper elementary kiddo can do a full-blown research project on his favorite ocean animal.
That’s our exact plan for this year, as we transition into a mostly-unit-study homeschool. We’re also making reading a together subject. Cap’n M will be read to, A-Man will be finding beginning readers, and Mr. C will have his higher level reading assigned that he can do on his own time.
Okay, I said that together subjects are a large family homeschool mom’s bread and butter, but maybe really it’s just the bread. Because outsourcing is the real butter. Or maybe it’s the cinnamon? That makes your toast just a little bit sweeter!
There are tons of reasons for you to outsource some of your homeschool, and there are more resources than ever to make it super easy! Whether you outsource a foreign language because you aren’t bilingual, math because you absolutely hate math, or art because there isn’t an artistic bone in your body, outsourcing can give you some seriously necessary time back in your day!
Later this week we’ll chat how to make your homeschool schedule work in a large family, and we’ll talk a lot about how to use strategic outsourcing to maximize your time spent teaching!
For now, you should consider which subjects (and which kiddo) will most easily be outsourced. It’s difficult for us to outsource any of A-Man’s subjects yet because he needs one-on-one attention to stay on task and absorb information. Mr. C, though, is a pretty independent homeschooler, and we’d probably be fine outsourcing his entire homeschool life!
Kids that grow up in large families grow up differently than those with 0-2 siblings. Not better, of course, but different for sure. Mr. C has been a big brother since he was 14 months old, and since then our kids have always had a new baby bumping their spoiled slot every few years. (I’m not kidding I have been pregnant or nursing every year since 2009.
Mr. C is 7 and he can do the laundry for himself and his siblings. He’s beginning to learn to cook simple meals this year. He is well-versed in neurodiversity and he can watch his siblings for short periods of time while I’m present in the house but otherwise occupied.
All of those tiny things he’s learned just from being the oldest in a large family all count as school in my book. My kids spend a lot of time learning negotiation skills (read: fighting over toys) and compromise (read: “if you keep fighting over that car, I will take it from you all so you better figure it out). These lessons are extremely valuable, especially for A-Man who needs help in social and developmental ways more than academic at his age.
Make sure you take into account the everyday life learning experiences that your kids will have and count those as a part of your homeschool curriculum plan for next year. Maybe it’s using a pizza to practice fractions or learning some patience by reading the same book to the baby for the 400th time that day.
Once you’ve got an idea of what subjects you really need to get curriculum for, you’re ready to go into full-blown research mode. Take all the steps in the guide to choosing homeschool curriculum and keep these points in the back of your mind while you find the perfect homeschool curriculum for your large family!
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