Hey homies! Welcome back to another episode of THH Podcast where we talk about 6 tips I have for homeschooling with an age gap.
Even though we’ve only been homeschooling for a short time, we have learned quite a few things about homeschooling already. It was definitely a learning curve figuring out how to adequately educate our kids who are at two different grade levels.
I thought it would be really helpful to share some of the tips we have found work well for us for homeschooling with an age gap. Click the play button below to listen to the podcast or continue reading to get the deets.
1. Set Up Activity Stations
One of the easiest ways for homeschooling with an age gap is to set up activity stations. I’ve seen this called a few different names (activity stations, task boxes, morning baskets, etc.), but it’s all the same thing.
The idea is to set up a few activities or crafts so that one child can engage in educational independent play while the other is getting more personalized attention.
I particularly love using activity stations for my kinesthetic learner because this sort of thing is right up his alley. Our “go-to” stations are Legos, the folder games I mentioned in our favorite resources podcast, and Melissa And Doug puzzles/activity books.
What I usually do is set up some kind of challenge or task for the child at the activity station to accomplish. Our favorite challenge at the moment is recreating animals using our Melissa and Doug Tangram set or Legos. This way the independent learner is working toward a goal and building critical thinking skills while having fun.
If none of these ideas pique your interest, be sure to check out my Pinterest board called Independent Activity Stations. I have quite a few activity station ideas ranging from pre-K to middle school so almost everyone can use this tip.
2. Have “Smart” Screen Time
Another tip to make homeschooling with an age gap easier is to let one of your children work on a tablet or computer activity. Again, this gives you the freedom to focus most of your attention on one child while the other is still getting an educational experience.
I used to be very weary of letting my children have “too much” screen time, but I’ve quickly learned to appreciate these resources. Not only are they learning how to use technology, they are also learning through fun activities. It really is a win-win situation.
Be mindful here that the computer activity is actually educational. It kind of defeats the purpose of independent learning if you just fork over Disney Plus and tell them to watch anything.
Some of our favorite online resources are ABCMouse.com and SplashMath.com. We also love the apps Flow Free, PBS Kid Play Games, and Khan Academy For Kids. If your children love video games like mine, there are tons of great educational games for the Nintendo Switch as well.
3. Create A Long Independent Assignment
Another really simple tip for homeschooling with an age gap is to give one child a longer assignment to work on independently. This kind of mirrors the activity stations mentioned before, but I typically target this more toward my older child.
The main independent learning assignments I like to give my daughter are working on journal prompts. This gets her comfortable with writing complete sentences and punctuation as well as with her feelings and emotions. I will be doing a separate post on age appropriate journal prompts soon so you will be able to use this wonderful resource as well.
In addition to journal prompts, I like to have my daughter read one chapter in a book (right now she is LIVING for the new Babysitters Club graphic novels). When she’s done reading, I have her write a few sentences and draw a picture to summarize the chapter.
Really anything works here as long as it highlights your child’s learning style and stays within or just beyond the bounds of their comfort zone. You don’t want to introduce a topic they’ve never seen before and be like “Welp, good luck”. You want to encourage critical and creative thinking skills.
4. Combine Lessons
If your kids aren’t really big fans of independent learning, you can always find a way to combine their lessons. I typically use this tip for our science, history, and art projects.
I truly believe no one is too young to start learning about science and history so it’s really easy for me to make complete lessons for both the pre-K and first grade level. If you’ve followed any of my craft projects, you know it’s pretty simple to do this.
This does take a little intuition on your part so you can meet your kids where they are and ask engaging questions. If you’re reading a history book that is WAY above your preschooler’s level and has very minimal sight words, it wouldn’t be the most effective to ask them to help you read. But you could always ask them to identify letters in the words or words that rhyme.
This is also a great time to have your older child practice their knowledge by helping out their younger sibling. The most effective way to cement your knowledge of a subject is to teach it to someone else. See if your older child can sum up the skill set to your younger child or have them work together to complete an experiment.
5. Set Aside Different Times For Lessons
If none of the previous tips for homeschooling with an age gap seem like a good fit for you, I highly recommend setting aside different times throughout the day for their lessons.
Since our son still has a 2 hour nap time, this is usually a really good time for us to homeschool our daughter independently and without distractions. Then when my husband gets home from work, he can take my daughter out and my son and I have focused school time.
If nap times aren’t a part of your schedule any more, you could always hire a babysitter or ask a family member to watch one of your children. Another option is homeschool while one child is participating in a team sport or independent homeschool co-op.
6. Alternate School Days
The final tip I have for homeschooling with an age gap is to simply homeschool on different days. There are tons of posts regarding homeschooling 3 to 4 days a week being just as effective as 5 days. This means you can alternate school days pretty easily while still maintaining a high-quality education for your kids.
If you have two children like us, you can do Monday and Wednesday for one child, Tuesday and Thursday for the other, then do a combined lesson Friday. If you have more than two children, you can couple the kids so you’re teaching two per day.
That’s A Wrap!
That concludes all the tips I have found work well for homeschooling with an age gap. Like all of my tips, take the ones that resonate and leave the others behind. There is no cut and dry answer for homeschooling so you just have to play around with what works for you and your family.
As I mentioned in the podcast episode, be sure to include your children in this decision making process. Ask them what activities they prefer to do. Do they like working independently? Do they like working together? At the end of the day this is THEIR educational experience so you want to make sure whatever you do works for them and not against them.
What Tips Do You Have For Homeschooling With An Age Gap?
The goal of my blog is to help out the collective as much as possible with tips and tricks for homeschooling. I would love to hear in the comments below if you have any additional tips for homeschooling with an age gap that weren’t mentioned in this post.
As always, thank you so much for reading and sharing this post. Be sure to check me out on Pinterest and Instagram for more homeschooling inspiration. Until next time. Peace out, homies.