Try Homeschool Stations
The way that I handle the challenge of homeschooling multiple children between the ages of 4 to 8 is homeschool stations. The concept of stations is simple; multiple locations each equipped for a particular subject or activity all running at the same time within a rotation. Each child gets a turn at each station for a set amount of time. Each homeschool station has it’s own purpose and adaptability to the child’s age and needs.
Within a 30 minute-2 hour period of time (depending on how many stations you decide to have) you can have 2+ subjects covered for every child at their own level and at their own pace. Homeschool stations creates high productivity within a short time frame.
While doing stations the focus is on the educational subject instead of the parent/teacher. Your kids will no longer waste time waiting for their turn with Mom, the i-pad, or a clear spot at the table. Everyone can be in the same room doing homeschool together and not be in each others way.
How do I decide which homeschool stations to have and where?
In answering this question for yourself it’s best to start by considering the following…
What educational subjects need individual focus?
What are some areas of interest that I (or my kids) would like to add?
Where in my home do I have the space and resources to run a homeschool station?
Between the ages of 4 and 8 the most important educational focus is literacy. Literacy is a skill that children acquire individually. The subject areas that help a child to develop his/her literacy skills are reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and math. In this age range these subjects can be the most difficult and time consuming for both parent and child.
I realized years ago that I, as my children’s teacher and parent, would need to spend a lot of focused one on one time with each child in order to help them develop their literacy skills successfully. This is why I started doing stations. It allowed me to spend the focused time with them that was needed and not go crazy.
You can of course include other educational subjects and areas of personal interest to your stations. My kids have had their own requests over the years for certain homeschool stations. Crafts and Computer games (educational of course!) are two popular stations in our house.
Sometimes I will add my own station idea. I have always included piano in my homeschool stations as an easy way to manage lessons and practice time. You can include whatever you want that will help you simplify your homeschooling.
The question of where depends on your approach to homeschool, the interests in your family, and the functionality of your home. When my three oldest children were between 4 and 8 we lived in small apartments and had little resources. Common locations for us included the piano, the computer, the kitchen table, and the couch. A homeschool station location (say that 5 times fast!) can be as simple as a desk or as creative as a reading fort.
How long should a homeschool station run?
Watch your kids, they will let you know if an amount of time is too long or too short for your homeschool stations to run. I found that 15 minutes per station is a perfect amount of time. I should also mention here that I really like using a timer for homeschool stations. Find a timer that is easy to use and that everyone can hear. It will make rotation more simple.
The beauty of homeschool is that you can focus on the individual. If you notice that one child has a harder time than the rest with staying in one spot for 15 min. than you can give that child an extra thing to do to keep his/her attention. Or if you have a child that works slower than the others you can decrease their work requirement to fit within the time frame. A good rule of thumb is to set a realistic time standard based on the needs of the group and then tailor to the individual.
How do I make my homeschool stations age adaptable?
Age adaptability is all about content. The homeschool station itself provides a general place and purpose, whereas the individual child that is there at a given time will determine the content.
For example, when at the “Reading Station”(a.k.a. the couch)…
The 8 year old reads 101 Facts About Kittens and Cats that she checked out through the library app on her Kindle.
The 7 year old reads from a Highlights magazine.
The 5 year old sits on mom’s lap while they read an easy reader together.
Also whatever the child’s current educational goals and interests are will determine what they do at each homeschool station.
For example, when at “Station 2” (a.k.a. the table)…
The 6 year old does a few pages in the math section of his workbook.
The 5 year old practices writing her name.
The 4 year old does a puzzle.
Age adaptability is also about capability. The older kids will be able to do things that the younger ones can’t like use glue and paint, or the computer, or read instructions on their own. Working with your children’s educational goals, personal interests, and individual capabilities will help you to determine the content. Then you can adapt the homeschool station to each child’s current level and needs.
To read my method on how to homeschool with a Toddler click here.
What the Trent kids say…
Kyryi says… “I love Homeschool Stations! They are a fun way for us all to learn at the same time. My favorite stations are reading, piano, and craft.”
Eli says… “Homeschool Stations are fun! I like homeschool stations because they are a good way to learn how to cook and how to read and how to make different crafts. My favorite stations are computer and reading.”
Lailah says… “I like that we get to use the i-pad for homeschool stations. My favorite stations are reading, cooking, and computer.”
Levi says…“My favorite stations are math and writing and computer.”