It wasn't long ago that I was bemoaning how hard it was to corral everyone and teach them all. The wide range of academic/age levels was frustrating, to say the least. Having toddlers or babies at home while homeschooling is not easy!
But I am happy to say the perseverance was worth it and in the last couple of years we have finally hit the sweet spot. Strider is off doing his own thing, school-wise, but the other 3 are easily grouped in together for a lot of our activities, and the four of us can enjoy most of the day together, reading and learning cool things.
We start off the day with basic tasks like making beds, etc., and with violin practice. Then, when all the screeching is over, we gather on the couch for some Bible time and history/geography. This year we memorized a few passages together (Psalm 8, since we were studying astronomy; part of Romans 12; the last few verses of Isaiah 40, and Psalm 34). We learned the states and capitals and some of the physical features of the U.S., as well as the list of U.S. presidents in order, and some history sentence-songs. We also reviewed the poems they were memorizing and read the history assignments for co-op.
Then, it is "Table Time." After a quick break (which is usually the boys flying out the door and playing for 10 minutes or so), we gather at the dining room table and everyone has their own workbooks to do. They each do handwriting, sometimes from dictation, sometimes in a workbook, as well as phonics/language arts, spelling, and math.
We also do some of the Table Time altogether. I try to do at least one lesson for everyone with my trusty white-board (love that thing). So through the year we've done various grammar lessons, or math concepts like Roman numerals, rounding, fractions, etc. It's nice that they all are at about the same level for those kinds of things! At least one day a week we also do a science/astronomy lesson.
Table time takes us through one more break and then to lunch -- which the kids are always excited about.
mine, too): Read-aloud time. We always have a novel we're working through, and sometimes some extra reading assignments. This year we've read 13 books together and are currently about to start our 14th. I think the favorites of the year were "Sign of the Beaver," "The Story of George Washington Carver," "Farmer Boy," and "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler."
By this point in the day I am always pretty much overdue for a break and can barely keep my eyes open. So I usually set them all at the dining room table with the rest of their workbooks that they didn't finish in the morning, or some supplemental worksheets. Then I go take a 20-30 minute nap while they completely ignore my instruction and cause all kinds of havoc. Then I come down and yell at them all and make them sit back down at the table until they actually finish the assignments. Or not. Then they're just in trouble for the rest of the evening.
Things generally all apart by around 2 pm here.
But by then it's almost time to go pick up Strider or run to speech club or violin or something like that, so I give up. Inevitably the kids end up going next door to sit on our neighbors' porch with them and they laugh and talk for a long time while I get dinner started (I'm very thankful for those neighbors!!).
Anyway, that's pretty much our time together each day. I really do love this stage of life and LOVE getting to learn alongside my kids. It really is the sweet spot.