Can you homeschool lots of kids? Yes, you can! Here are tips for homeschooling multiple ages in this interview with Tiffany Jefferson.
Tiffany Jefferson is a happily married homeschool mom of 10 children (7 sons and 2 daughters, ranging from ages 22 to newborn). Tiffany loves being a mom and always tells her kids she would gladly do it over again.
Tiffany and her husband started homeschooling after her oldest three children were in public school. When her third child and first daughter entered first grade, they began to have doubts. Her daughter was bright and curious. They saw the classroom system being a discouragement for her. Thinking that they wanted to build, not stifle, their daughter’s inquisitiveness, they began to explore the idea of homeschooling.
Fortunately, there were a couple of homeschooling families at her church. They helped them comply with state homeschool laws. They helped Tiffany learn the ropes and even gave them homeschool curriculum to explore as the figured out what would be best fit for their kids. (This was nice for the first year: NO curriculum decisions that first year.) Tiffany and her husband felt so blessed and encouraged.
When she started homeschooling, they started with just that one daughter, whose needs would be best met at home. Of course, it was not always an easy adventure. Tiffany tells about the time she told her husband, “I feel like I’m giving up all my free time!”
And being a truth-teller, her husband replied, “You are.”
But what a great investment of her time!
Tiffany’s truth-telling advice to other moms homeschooling multiple ages: There is a lot you give up. But what you gave up is no comparison to what you gain.
The first year there were tears and struggles but the priceless joy of watching her daughter’s gains. They learned to pray at tough times and set things aside for the day, pause and do something else. She learned to give herself permission to hit the pause button; she found she not have to finish every lesson, every day.
The second year, Tiffany and her husband brought her oldest two sons home for their education. Eventually, she was homeschooling kids from high school ages down to kindergarten.
Here some of Tiffany Jefferson’s tips for homeschooling multiple ages:
- Pray. First and foremost.
- Find a homeschool support group if possible.
- Find curriculum that could be used with multiple children.
- Enlist the help of your older children.
- On any given day in the Jefferson home, you will find one sibling will be holding a baby, another playing with the toddler, or an older child listening to a younger sibling read.
- Work on household management skills.
- As in teach your children to do chores, get them involved. Another bit of wisdom from Tiffany’s husband: Delegate to them what they can do so that you can do what only you can do.
- In curriculum, you do not ever have to do every lesson in the teacher’s manual for your curriculum.
- The teacher’s manual is a guide, not your master.
- Be flexible, if it is a tough day, adapt down, switch to a hands-on, independent activity or drop the lesson.
- Develop independent learners beginning 7th or 8th grade. Tiffany teaches them to:
- Use a planner
- Develop their own lesson schedule and enter it into the planner on a weekly basis
- Create deadlines and schedule backwards for projects and papers. (Check out 7Sister Sabrina’s popular Scheduling Backwards on a way to do this.)
- Utilize a grading bin for finished work ready for mom to grade.
- Remember, just like parenting, children become more and more able to help themselves.
When her oldest son was a high school senior, Tiffany was experiencing a difficult pregnancy. She was on bedrest, but the structure they had implemented helped the family’s homeschool to carry on.
When her oldest teen graduated from homeschool high school, it was exciting for him. He knew what he wanted after graduation, so he developed his own system for college choice and application. They also looked to their local umbrella school’s advisor for guidance and a list of deadlines to work on.
Now the oldest has graduated from college. Two of her kids are in college. The rest are high school, middle school, elementary school or younger. SO many homeschoolers in a family full of grace!
More advice from Tiffany on homeschooling high school when you have a bunch of youngers:
- Pray, of course! (And with your husband, if possible.)
- For the first year, watch your level of outside the home commitments.
- Understand the biblical mandate to educate your children in ways that are beyond the academics (Deuteronomy 6:7). Homeschooling is 90% character development and 10% academic (for kids and moms, alike).
- Remember, you have been your child’s teacher all along. You are equipped.
If you would like to contact Tiffany Jefferson for consulting, visit her at her website Finish With Joy.
Tiffany is a blogger, speaker and entrepreneur. As founder of The Homeschool Helper, she uses over a decade of homeschool experience to equip parents with the tools to succeed in their homeschool journey. As a mentor to mothers, she’s passionate about teaching women how to honor their husbands and create peaceful home environments. You can find her encouraging women, sharing Scriptural truths and helpful tips at her blog Finish with Joy, on Facebook and Instagram.
Here’s an interview with Amy Sloan, second generation homeschooler with more ideas for including teens in family homeschool learning.