Caryn Hommel, homeschool mom and author, holds a degree in Spanish Language and Literature from North Carolina State University and taught Spanish in public schools for ten years. Her success with teaching Spanish using Total Physical Response (TPR) and Total Physical Response Storytelling (TPRS) motivated her to develop a unique DVD-led curriculum to help other homeschoolers to benefit from wonderful, brain-friendly approaches to foreign language instruction. She has also designed and implemented an ESL curriculum, led educational tours of both Spain and Mexico for high school students, and presented at NCHE, FLANC (the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina), JCHE, and the Johnston County Second Language Network. She assists families in the homeschool community by offering private and co-op classes, conducting free seminars, and speaking at homeschool conventions. The Hommels have homeschooled since 2003 and have two college students. Caryn continues to teach her younger two children, and thinks that exploring life and learning as a family is the most fulfilling way to spend your days!
As homeschool parents, we usually have a wide variety of ages in our home to teach. When you get a wide variety of age groups together sometimes it is hard to teach them all at once. One way we have found to make homeschooling multiple ages work is to use unit studies!
Unit Studies consist of picking a topic that interests all students. You then spend time learning about that topic in an interesting and engaging way. Unit Studies are great for multi age learning. You can use a Unit study in a girl or Boy Scout troop, classroom or home school group. Here are some steps for creating a unit study for multi age homeschooling. The example I am going to use starts with a book selection, but really you don’t have to base a unit study off of a book, this is just an example. If you do not use a book you can go to #2.
- Pick a book. For example, let’s say you wanted to spend time reading a book like Charlotte’s Web.
- Pick a topic. Since we are reading Charlotte’s Web, we are going to study farm life.
- Pick your For Art we will be making pictures of a farm, for Science we will be studying farm animals and how animals live and work on a farm. For a field trip, we will visit a local farm.
- Create lesson plans. Here is where multi age learning comes into play. You will want to ensure that all children learn at their own level.
- For Art you can have younger children create pictures with stickers and construction paper. You can make the project more difficult depending on age. Some children may free hand draw a farm scene. Older children may paint a picture, or create a drawing of one animal they found interesting.
- For writing you can have older children write a report about what they learned on their field trip. Younger children can write 1-2 sentences.
- For Science younger children can learn about different animals on the farm. Older children can learn about what roles these animals play and study their life cycle.
- Get the older ones involved! Any time we have done unit studies in a large group it always helps to remind the older children they are helpers. They can teach the younger ones by showing them how to use scissors, reading to them, or even teaching a class themselves!
You can continue this pattern with just about any subject. The key to unit studies and making multi age homeschooling work is finding a topic everyone is interested in and breaking it down into smaller pieces depending on age. Older children will study the topic more in depth, while younger ones study it more hands on. Older children may read more non fiction books, while the younger ones read engaging stories. With some planning ahead homeschooling multiple ages will work!
B. A. has more than 20 years’ experience as a children’s director in churches. She began her formal ministry as a children’s director and consultant in 1993, but she has taught and led music for children since she was in junior high school. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and taught college until the Lord called her to seminary and full-time ministry. She graduated with a master’s degree in Christian Education from Columbia International University. Speaking at conferences, consulting with leadership, and training teachers brought her to Great Commission Publications (www.gcp.org) in 2014 as the Children’s Ministry Consultant and Marketing Director.