I am very excited to talk today about family schooling. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy homeschooling so much. I enjoy when we can all sit around the table or living room learning about the same things together.
We have a 4-year old, 10-year old, and 12-year old so the age span is somewhat wide. While our 4-year old doesn’t do everything with us, it’s amazing how much she picks up just by listening. And, she always has to be “in” on the science experiments. I mean who wouldn’t want to see an egg cooked in alcohol or watch a baking soda and vinegar volcano erupt?!
The older girls also enjoy family schooling because it means there is less they have to do “on their own.” They love the social interaction. And, I can’t name how many times our academic lessons have resulted in conversations over the dinner table as we connected the dots between our studies and real life.
Because we family school so many subjects, we also save money and time. Instead of 3 textbooks for a subject, we only need one. Instead of having to spend time with each child on each subject, I can do it once for all three.
While this doesn’t work for every school subject, it has worked for several so here our five favorite subjects to study together.
History and geography are great subjects to study together and by far my favorite. In fact, we often use our history as a spine to connect our read-aloud books, Bible, writing, fine arts, and even science.
Mystery of History is currently our favorite history curriculum. It is comprised of 4 volumes that take a chronological look at world history from a Christian perspective. The author, Linda Hobar, includes short stories, book recommendations, geography reinforcement ideas, timeline suggestions, and hands-on activities to help make history come alive.
One reason she is so family school friendly is because her activity and book suggestions are broken down into age groups so you can easily read the history lesson together and then assign reinforcement activities that are age appropriate to each of your children.
Although I think Mystery of History can easily stand on its own two feet as more than enough, if you are looking for something a little more in depth, you might take a look adding Truthquest or Biblioplan to give you even more read aloud options, commentary, and in depth discussions.
And, if you are looking for a geography curriculum, I actually created one because I couldn’t find one that was as family-friendly and multi-media oriented as I desired. Be sure to check out the link for that as well as all the curriculum I suggest today in the show notes.
Science is another great subject to study together because it is so hands-on. From science experiments to read-aloud books, nature study journals to reinforcement videos, there is a lot to interest kids of all ages.
After trying several different kinds of science curricula over the years, we have finally found our groove with Berean Builders by Dr. Wile, the author of the original high school Apologia books. We especially like his elementary series because he takes a chronological look at science which fits in great with our history studies. I also appreciate that his science experiments often use things found around the house, so I rarely have to make a concerted effort to gather experiment supplies before each lesson. In addition, he divides his summary questions by age group, yet again appealing to the family school approach to science. Each day we complete lesson, I am amazed at both my oldest daughter’s understanding of scientific concepts as well as my youngest daughter’s interest in scientific reactions.
But don’t think Berean Builders is the only family-friendly option out there. If a topical look at science, especially in the elementary years, appeals more to your family, I’ve heard great things about Apologia Science. And, for those who prefer more subject variety throughout the year, God’s Design series from Answers in Genesis is also a family school friendly science curriculum.
Family schooling provides a great opportunity for you to delve deeper into the scriptures together. It also opens the doors for you to discuss with your children what you believe and why. While I think it is important for children and adults to have their own personal quiet time with Jesus each day, completing a study together as a family gives you the opportunity to lead your children in they way they should go. As Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach [the Lord’s commands] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (ESV). By studying the Word together, you are creating opportunities for this scripture to become reality in your family life.
Currently, we are completing Apologia’s What We Believe series together which encourages students to look at the following questions through a biblical worldview: Who is God? Who Am I? Who is My Neighbor? And What on Earth Can I Do? These books have paralleled well with Mystery of History as they draw on stories and biographies of individuals from each of the four time periods as defined by Mystery of History.
Through this series we have been able to naturally have serious discussions about some of the more sensitive tops in our world today including abortion, prejudice, critical race theory, and creation. And, while we don’t personally use the journals that accompany the series, the curriculum is also written with both young and old in mind as they provide age-appropriate supplemental journals and coloring books to go alongside the core textbooks.
But don’t think that you have to have a curriculum to study the Bible together. In fact, I highly recommend reading the book Together: Growing Appetites for God by Carrie Ward, which encourages the simplicity of reading the scripture together daily.
4. The Arts
Music and art are also fun subjects to learn together. While learning to play an instrument tends to be individualized, learning music history, music theory, and even singing can often be learned together. My favorite resource for family style music classes are Music in Our Homeschool’s online courses by Gena Mayo. Gena’s courses are fun, interactive, informative, and applicable to most ages. You can learn everything from the history of holiday music and musicals to 4-part hymn singing and high school music history.
Art is also a subject families can study together, because, although the lessons could apply to artists young and old, students can create their own masterpieces according to their skill level. There are several online art tutorials we have done as a family over the years. And, if you are looking for an art-focused curriculum, Artistic Pursuits, creates an excellent curriculum with a fairly wide and adaptable age-span.
5. Language Arts
Only recently have I come to realize the benefits of teaching language arts together. Up until this year, with the exception of read-alouds, we have done most of language arts studies separately. However, this year has really opened my eyes to some different ways to approach language arts so as to make it more family friendly.
For example, my middle child is working through the All About Spelling series. While this series, is definitely one-child focused, it has provided a wonderful opportunity for my youngest child, who has recently learned to read, to practice reading aloud. Now, while my middle child is completing her dictation sentences, my youngest child is reading the sentences to her.
We have also recently begun using IEW’s Level B Theme-Based curriculum and love how it is both adaptable to multiple ages and relates to our history studies. Both my oldest and middle daughters are able to learn about writing together as a result all while still writing at their own level. And this is something that could apply to several writing curricula—given a uniform topic, children can approach writing on their level which could be something as simple as one sentence for a first grader to a five-paragraph essay for a high schooler.
Finally, if you’d like to consider family schooling for all subjects, there is that possibility too. My Father’s World and Konos are among several box-curriculums that are known for their mulit-age family-friendly approach to homeschooling.
As you look for curriculum this year, if you have an interest in learning subjects together as a family, look for words like “unit study” or “one-room schoolhouse” “or “multi-age.” Also look for curricula that has suggestions for how to implement the same curriculum across multiple ages. Some curriculum is intended for individual use and therefore would not be a good match for family schooling. But there are several curriculums out there that are written with the family in mind.
If you are struggling with getting it all in for multiple students, I encourage you to try family schooling. If you want to develop stronger connections in your family, save money, or time, family schooling is a great way to go. I hope you’ll give it a try and shoot me an email telling me how it goes. And, when you email me, let me know what your favorite family schooling curriculum is. I can’t wait to here it!