Multi-Level Homeschooling Tips and Tricks

Does it ever feel like you’re juggling a thousand tasks and hundred kids, trying to get all the things done with some measure of success? As more and more kids in our families enter into the schooling years, homeschool moms (especially the large family moms) have a unique challenge: we have to figure out how to do multi-level homeschooling!

How do you keep the tots and preschoolers busy while hand-holidng your early readers and writers and keeping the papers graded and the instruction on-point for the older kids? All without losing your sanity or just watching it all fall apart? 

Well, truth be told, some days it falls apart. (Let’s just keep it real, shall we?) But the trick to making progress in spite of the “off” days is to be flexible, set realistic expectations, and employ some tried-and-true multi-level teaching tips and tricks!

This is a sponsored post for The Mystery of History. 

Struggling to homeschool several ages? You'll love these multi-level homeschooling tips and tricks!

 

Multi-Level Homeschooling Tips and Tricks

There are several ideas you can try to make multi-level teaching work for you and your family. I have tried several and still employ many of these tips. You veteran homeschool mamas, feel free to add to this list yourself in the comments! 

Do More Group Work 

When you have multiple ages to work with, it is relatively easy to find curriculum that involves a reading of some kind (text, living books, etc.) that can be done as a family during a meal. It’s a great “morning time” or “basket time” activity to do together! During our morning basket, which is an excellent multi-level homeschooling tool, we eat breakfast and at least cover our group lessons for Bible, memory work, and the science or history reading. Then we simply follow it up with activities for each child that suit their level. For the younger kids this is drawing or coloring, and for older kids we usually add notebooking.

Similarly, do projects, experiments, field trips, and other group activities together that extend your learning and can be done with all ages. Again, assign additional reading, notebooking, or worksheets for your older kids to deepen the learning experiences without adding more time to your own schedule!  

Use Nap Time / Quiet Time 

Every day we have nap time for the young kids (anybody under 7) and quiet time for the older kids. For quiet time the kids older kids are expected to finish up any independent work they didn’t complete that morning, and I usually have 1 or 2 brief 1:1 sessions with a child to work through a subject that’s challenging for them. It’s a great way to focus since the littles aren’t needing attention!

However, I do try to keep that teaching time brief during nap time and reserve the more independent work for that slot. Why? Because I need to get other work done, take a break myself, or even take a power nap! Nobody likes being homeschooled by an exhausted mama or one who is stretched so thin she’s about to snap. So use that golden time wisely! 

Use Audiobooks

Audiobooks are one of my all-time favorite multi-level homeschooling tips and tricks. With audiobooks, my olders can spend some of that quiet time learning quietly and getting a little rest themselves while they listen and learn. When it’s meal time, which is one of our regular read-aloud times, and I. just. can’t… audiobooks to the rescue! Car rides are even better, using up that time on the road when your kids are a captive audience to learn something new or reinforce a subject.

We use all kinds of audiobooks for homeschooling, including both fiction and non-fiction. Some homeschool companies offer audio versions of their materials now, too, which is excellent! You can do the lessons together and use the audios for review, or use the audios for the main content, which is especially effective for those audio learners.  

 Have Older Kids Help Younger Kids

Begin teaching your older kids to help with the younger kids. There are many ways they can do this. They can play with or read to the preschoolers and babies, do simple math or reading practice with the younger kids, enjoy special outside time with a sibling, and more! 

Some people worry about putting too much on the older kids with this kind of approach. My feeling is that as long as I don’t rely too heavily on my older kids and treat their time with respect and appreciation, including them in helping their siblings in these ways can be good for their character, bless their relationship with their siblings, and help them know how important they are to the overall functioning of the family! It’s a good situation, in my opinion. 

Keep the Younger Kids Occupied 

Doing group work and including your younger kids in on “lessons” when they want to is a huge help. However there are times when you just need to keep them occupied! When we have read aloud time, such as during our morning time routine I mentioned above, I have coloring books and pages on hand with crayons, pencils, and markers. When they finish eating they can color or draw while they listen to me complete the day’s morning time reading. It’s simple but it works!

Most of the time my younger children play until I call them to the table to do their own lessons with mom. They spend a lot of time in our backyard or playing around the house, and we’ve set up areas where they can play without disturbing everyone else. Mostly. I mean, I do have four boys. 

I also keep activities on hand for their own play discovery or to pull out when things are just getting too crazy and I need a little bit longer to finish with the olders.

Here are some ideas: 

  • Mini indoor trampoline 
  • Baskets of books
  • Box of musical toys
  • Box of costumes
  • Busy bags (look them up! lots of ideas) 
  • Playdoh
  • Water painting books
  • Play kitchen
  • Chalk board with chalk or little paint brushes and a little water to “paint” with
  • Bubbles
  • A bug collecting kit
  • Wikki Sticks
  • Card making supplies
  • Pinto beans and pouring containers and tools
  • Blues Clues (we try not to do screen time, but there are days…)
  • Find more ideas here!

Teach Independence 

As my kids get to be about third grade level, we work more on having them do independent learning. I still do 1:1 instruction for certain subjects, more so depending on the kid, but teaching them to do more independent time management is valuable for us all and essential for multi-level homeschooling. They have their own loop schedule they work through and touch base with me after each assignment is complete. As they get older they don’t have to check in so much. But the idea is they do their work before their play (with reasonable breaks, of course). 

We also take advantage of some online learning options. For us it’s important to be sure not to overdo online lessons where I’m not intimately involved in their work (especially for the 11 and under ages), but we do use it where appropriate and it is a huge blessing! Things like video or online courses are fun for the kids to do once in a while as well. 

Be Watchful and Adjust As Needed

As with all things homeschooling, there is no one size fits all. We experiment with different resources and ideas to make multi-level homeschooling more effective, and then carefully observe the results. Most often a simple tweak to how we’re doing things will fix any issues, but I’ve learned that the best thing for my children and their individual need is an alert and flexible mom who can adjust their homeschool program to help them thrive! 

 

 

 

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This Post Has 153 Comments

  1. I absolutely love how Mystery of History combines the Bible along with History and has so many hands-on activities and other means of instruction.

    1. What a fun way to learn history! We would love to win this!!!

    2. I agree. So glad to find another history option with a Christina worldview.

    3. I have heard about the Mystery of History from several different sources. When I looked at the website, I was impressed. My family spends a lot of time in the car going to doctors appointments. When I checked out all the samples and information, I believe that the audios along with the book would be beneficial for my family and family situation. Thanks for highlighting this curriculum and website!

    4. The combination of Biblical and secular sources is one of my favorite things about this set!

  2. It would be great to win this audio! This sounds like a great curriculum!

  3. We love mystery of history! We’ve been through all four volumes and will go through them again.

  4. I love that it is Christian based!

  5. I’m excited that it’s a full world history curriculum with a Christian perspective, it’s an audiobook, and that it can be used for all ages of homeschool!

  6. I don’t do much ‘school’ with my pre school age children, but this year I’m looking at pre-K 3 for the youngest as he’s constantly asking to do school. First year of teach 3 kids at vastly different levels. Thanks for the tips!

  7. interested to see how it intertwines world events with biblical history

  8. I appreciate your ideas on keeping little people busy during school time! That is one of the things I find interesting about classical method and Mystery of History, too: that it is designed to be cyclical and for every age level to be able to get something out of it. Even little people busy with their play doh can listen and learn!

  9. Wow! Mystery of History sounds awesome. Would be wonderful to win this curriculum! The Bible is OUR history and the framework for everything…this would make our history lessons valuable, understandable and all filtered through the authentic true lens of the Bible. Thank you for hosting this giveaway! God bless you and your family!

  10. I’ve been wanting this audiobook for ages!

  11. I would love to have the extras to go with Mystery of History especially volume 1. This is our first year homeschooling and we are very excited to use it! Thanks for the opportunity.

  12. I love that Mystery of History has audio books and that I can use it with multiple age groups!

  13. i love how biblical history is lined up next to world history.

  14. I look forward to interesting history lessons that intrigue my daughter.

  15. I love MOH. The audiobooks would be such a wonderful addition to our day. I love that all levels are taught together!!

  16. I like that it has follow up ideas for different age groups.

  17. My kids enjoy playing with Legos while I read the MOH to them. Audio would be helpful for the younger ones to listen again on their own. Thanks for the coupon!

  18. What curriculum do you use for your orders to help encourage independent learning? Or do you adapt a classroom curriculum? I am currently trying to encourage/force : ) my oldest to learn more independently out of necessity. Thanks in advance for your input!

    1. We’re pretty eclectic and use a lot of things. 🙂 My older kids do independent reading of living books and notebooking / activity sheets to go along with our history reading (we use a combo of America’s Story from Master Books and Beautiful Feet Books for all that and use Mystery of History audios in the car to supplement). Similarly for science, we all read the Apologia books together and then the olders do notebooking for it too. Same for Bible (Bible Road Trip), theology (Sound Words for Kids), and worldview (Apologia What We Believe). We cycle through all these resources so we don’t do them all every day or anything.

      Then they use Teaching Textbooks for math, some electives and independent research projects, and either Master Books’ Writing Strands or Language Lessons for a Living Education for language arts. Grammar Galaxy is a great all-family language arts curriculum too.

      I should put together a post on what we’re using this year 😀

  19. I would love being able to teach multiple levels at once!

  20. I’d love to win this!

  21. Looking forward to the part about the people of New Zealand !

  22. Winning this MOH audio would be such a blessing.We will start our school year in late September so Im trying to save and buy the curriculum we need.My son is a audio learner3rd grade and my daughter is a visual learner 4 th grade. Going into our third year of homeschooling and enjoying every grace filled beautiful chaotic moment. I glean so much encouragement and wisdom from your blog so thank you for being so transparent and allowing the Lord to use you for His Glory!

  23. Thank you so much for all the advice and giveaway! God bless you!

  24. Mystery of History sounds great!

  25. Helpful to know that semi-independent learning can begin as early as grade 3. We’re new on the journey, and still learning. I think one has to be careful with journaling because, without strict direction, it can lose academic rigor or see gaps in subject areas. I know one homeschooler who spent most a year working on journaling the culture of China — great and all, but at her age (lower highschool) she really needed something more comprehensive and rigorous. However, unit studies with guided journaling would make sure all the gaps are covered, and the journaling helps practice composition skills, which are weak in many students. Unit studies with grade-appropriate worksheets, tests, and research essays would be even better.

  26. Oh my goodness winning this giveaway would be great! I’ve always wondered whether rhere was a history curriculum that weaves what’s going on in the world with what’s going on in the Bible and this is it, y’all! Plus, being able to teach multiple ages the same stuff. Win-win! My kiddos love audiobooks and sometimes my toddler necessitates that I throw this in instead of do it myself! A great addition to our car CD library too!! Love ❤️

  27. I’ve been eyeing Mystery of History for a couple years now. Would LOVE to try the Audio books–we already use audio for everything we possibly can! Definitely a sanity saver for busy mamas with multiple youngsters!

  28. I like that I can use it for multiple ages

  29. Love history and Christian point of view is best, unless they stretch the truth.

  30. The craft pack and history games look like a neat way to make learning history fun!

  31. Thanks for the encouragement! We also incorporate sibling 1:1 time, which they enjoy and I trust builds their relationship, while giving me 1:1 time with the other child.

  32. It’s for all ages.

  33. Have heard these are great for car trips!

  34. Looking at this History curriculum… I love how the author has included artists and musicians! It makes it more we’ll rounded and provides more for the parent while taking care of the work/research!

  35. I would be thrilled to win this! I love history but see many gaps and deficiencies in my own history education and I definitely want better for my daughter as I homeschool her. I love that this first volume starts at the very beginning of time and sets the stage for the rest of the curriculum.

  36. We are using Mystery of History Volume 1 this year with my youngest. I did this volume years ago with my older children who are now homeschool graduates.

  37. I love systems which easily incorporate multi-level and I really love hands-on! This looks great!

  38. I’d love to try the MOH audiobooks!

  39. I love that Mystery of History is from a Christian worldview and teaches what was happening in the world at the time of Biblical events.

  40. I love that Mystery of History has a Biblical world view.

  41. Oh, this blog post is so timely for for me. I am homeschooling 6 with 2 preschoolers keeping things lively. I want to read it again with a notebook and pen in hand.

  42. World LOVE to try the audio of MOH!

  43. We have listened to a couple of chapters of the Mystery of History audio books and that is our favorite feature about Mystery of History.

  44. I love that I can purchase audio for my auditory learner’s!

  45. I love that it is chronological and a biblical

  46. We love this curriculum! This is a fantastic prize.

  47. I enjoy following your blog as it gives me a lot of encouragement to homeschool my kids with a Christian worldview. Thank you for introducing so many helpful resources such as the Mystery of History! Love that it caters to different age groups 🙂

  48. Great tips- maybe trying some of your suggestions will help us organize our chaos a bit better! I hadn’t really thought of trying to do school DURING meal times, but that could really be a sanity and time saver for us!

  49. This sounds like a great resource. Thank you.

  50. The biggest thing I like is that it’s Christian.

  51. We do Classical Conversations, and I love that it is chronological just like our timeline. I also would enjoy more independent work from my kids and this would help!

  52. Audio books would be amazing help so all my kids can listen within me having to do the reading!

  53. Looking forward to incorporating the audio for MOH! I really can’t wait to get to the modern history.

  54. I love the fact of easily combining the age groups with The Mystery of History!

  55. We have loved MoH. The audio version would be great to pass on to my daughter just beginning her homeschool adventure with my grandchildren.

  56. We are enjoying using MoH in our homeschool this year!

  57. Love mystery of history

  58. Thanks for all the tips on multi age homeschooling.
    We have started Mystery of history this year. I’m excited about learning history this way. Having the audios would be a bonus.

  59. That it’s for all ages!

  60. I Love that the Mystery of History is written with a Christian world View!

  61. Thanks! I’m super excited about the potential of this curriculum!

  62. I enjoy the multilevel Christ centeredness of MOH. I think the audios will make it even easier on this momma of 9 to get our lessons accomplished!

  63. I’d love to try audiobooks as a help during school time!

  64. I love that Mistery of History is about His Story alongside events of the world.

  65. I love that it is an audio I can play for my kids instead of reading it out loud myself.

  66. WE love all the Mystery of History volumes and would be excited to try the audio versions.

  67. Love that there’s over eleven hours of listening and that there’s music involved, too.

  68. I like the chronological approach to teaching world history.

  69. Thanks for the ideas!

  70. Mystery of History is awesome! We did fall off track last year though because the younger ones always had to wait for me to read it with them. An audiobook would solve that problem. I’ve used audiobooks for stories/read-alouds, but never thought to for actual curriculum.

  71. I like that it has a biblical and chronological component to learning history.

  72. I would love this. Audio books are a life saver.

  73. I like its biblical worldview.

  74. We love history in this household but we have never tried audio books. So, that alone would be a brilliant chance to change things up from our usual.

  75. This would be a great curriculum to win, especially for its biblical based history. This would be such a blessing to my kids. Thank you for the opportunity!

  76. I not only love the Christian aspect and that the organised timeline, but its nice to have a break from Mum’s voice! Being portable is a great plus for those learning on the run days, too.

  77. I have been wanting to do this program with my children. I love how it incorporates activities, biblical times, and stories to make history interesting.

  78. I love the multi-level approach this curriculum uses! Great investment for homeschooling all the way through high school.

  79. I have had Mystery of History for many years. My 2 oldest kiddos and I read through it and it was so 3nlightening to me. I was a public school kid and had no idea that the Bible was actually history!! Fast forward to now and I keep meaning and waning to do the same with kiddos 3,4, and 5 but it’s hard to sit down and read it aloud. I’m excited to see they have audio book versions now! I would love a chance to win those!

  80. We love Mystery of History!

  81. This would allow my slow reader a level of independent learning without losing the Christian worldview.

  82. The lessons can be as long or short as you need them to be. I also like that the lessons reinforce the Bible. I do not have to say, “Well I know your history book says the earth is millions of years old, but ignore that part and believe some of the other stuff. “.

  83. CROSSing fingers to win this one

  84. I liked the suggestions offered 🙂 Thanks for all the information.

  85. The lessons can be as long or short as you need. I also like that it reinforces the Bible. I don’t have to say, “Well I know your history book says the earth is millions of years old. Ignore that part but believe some of the other stuff. “

  86. I love the feature of the audio option! We travel quite a bit and to be able to enjoy it in audio fashion both in the car and at home is exciting! Thank you for the fun giveaway.

  87. I have the text & would love to have the audio to go with it. The kids seem to prefer listening to someone other than me read to them.

  88. My 4 children in ages ranging from 2-10 all loved listening the first time through. So much so they wore out \ killed a few of the CDs. My husband likes to listen to them as audio books too. They are a magnificent tool for our family. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  89. We have used MOH in the past and really enjoyed the activities & story-like quality of the book, but it was a lot of reading for me to do on top of all the other work I do with them. I would love to have the audiobook to make them more independent with history.

  90. I love that MOH can be used for our entire family and am very interested in using audio so everyone can listen together (even me:) )

  91. This is our first year using mysterybof history and I’m excited to have more a spine, but the flexibility to add in other resources.

  92. I like how MOH weaves the Bible into history to show our kids it’s all one story…His story.

  93. I love how Mystery of History weaves World History with Bible History so you can see when things happened in relation to other things!

  94. I had just put this on my wishlist! Thank you for the opportunity and good wisdom!!

  95. I’m jealous you can get the little ones to rest on their own. My 8 and 6 just quit napping, which was just fine except that the free time I have while they have quiet time is spent trying to make the 2 sleep. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. I have done a few different things depending on what’s happening with the kids or myself. My 3 and 5 year old do naps still. They don’t have to sleep, but they do have to be quiet and stay in their rooms until nap time is over. I let them have books but not toys there with them. It does take monitoring and discipline to help them learn to do that obediently, but it’s worth it. If i do have to monitor, I bring laundry into the hall to fold, do online work there, read a book, etc. I may have to adjust my expectations of what I do with that free time but it’s still worth it all around, for our family. I hope that helps!

  96. I love using audiobooks and, honestly, *I* want to learn world history from a Christian worldview too! Good thing I can listen along in the car or while I wash the dishes.

  97. I love that it is for all ages and it’s audio versus video! We’re a classical homeschooling family of 5 and curriculum that’s not age-specific is HUGE!

  98. We are actually going to be beginning on our second run through MOH levels 1-3 next year with my son who will be in 5th grade. My daughter will be doing level 4 as her world history for 10th grade next year as well. I read all the lessons aloud to them the first time through. (We took two years to go through level 3.) I think it would be cool to have the audio lessons so my daughter could “listen” to them again as my son and I go through them while she is also working through level. 4.. I am sure she has forgotten a lot of the beginning stuff. Level 1 is my favorite level I think because of all the specific Bible history included (like each of the books of the Bible.) We still refer back to level 1 sometimes even though we are not using the curriculum this year.

  99. I have used Volume 1 with my two older kids and loved that it is so biblically based that I will be using it with our 3 younger ones too!

  100. I plan on using the Mystery of History curriculum with my children. I appreciate the world history instruction being mindful of the Bible. Instead of learning just facts, they teach in context of truth. I am really interested in their audiobooks so my kids can learn from someone else who lives, breathes, and enjoys history. Someone who can make it come alive to them and can light a spark for them.

  101. I’ve heard a lot of great thing about Mystery of History and wanting to start using it. What a great way to get started!

  102. We live in a foreign country and our kids go to public school, so their history has been very centered around the history of the people group where we live…would be so nice to have an additional history component from a different slant.

  103. I love using audiobooks for quiet time!

  104. I’ve been intrigued with Mystery of History and winning this would be a great way to find out if it would be a good fit for us

  105. How exciting! We love Mystery of History!!

  106. This is our first year using MoH and Oh my goodness we love it so much!! We’ve been at it for a week and it is definitely a highlight to our school day.

  107. Would be excited to have Volume 4 — we’ve enjoyed listening to Volumes 1-3. It’s great that Volume 4 goes all the way through 2014!

  108. I love that it has maps and quizzed. We also love audios

  109. We love audiobooks and I think my kids would
    love the Mystery of History audiobooks.

  110. Love Mystery of History! We have learned so much so far this year. Would love to get the audio package for it!

  111. I’ve heard so much about The Mystery of History, but we have never tried it. I would love to!

  112. I love how MOH weaves history together! Thanks for the chance to win!

  113. I love that it incorporates Biblical people and events, and I like the optional activities included.

  114. I really like that this is from a Christian perspective. I think that my kids would really enjoy listening to this and learning from it!

  115. We’ll be starting MOH next year and I was thinking of getting the audio version. It would be awesome to win it!!

  116. Audio books of this great content is a win win for teacher and students!

  117. The audio part is the most important feature to me. I have a child who responds so much better when his books are read to him.

  118. I love that MOH tells history as an exciting story. I am so excited to use MOH with my kiddos but waiting one more year to save up for all the components. The audio would be a huge blessing toward that goal. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

  119. I love that multiple ages can be taught at the same time a Christian worldview of history. Audio version is bonus so we can listen anywhere. And over and over again. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity!

  120. I love Mystery of History…I would love to try this curriculum.

  121. I love how the Mystery of History ties in the timeframe of Biblical accounts with other historical events. We have only got one quarter volume but we are loving it so far. I’d love to get the finished set to hear all of Creation to the Resurrection.

  122. It would be so great to have history from a Biblical perspective.

  123. This is a wonderful opportunity, thank you!

  124. I love that these are biblically based, and to have the audio version to listen to anytime would be amazing!

  125. We have enjoyed using Mystery of History in our homeschool. It would be nice to have the audio version so Mom doesn’t have to do all the reading!

  126. Trying to keep three kids busy at the same time has been a challenge, so kuddos to you. Thank you for your ideas and suggestions. Some of them I use already, but I am looking forward to trying others. 🙂

  127. We like the fact that it can be used with different age levels at the same time.

  128. This sounds really great!!

  129. I love the Christian perspective of Mystery of History! We are using Story of the World right now, and I wish I had gotten Mystery of History instead.

  130. Tauna,
    Thank you for making discounts on this wonderful
    resource available.

  131. I have only heard about this curriculum and want to know more.

  132. I love that MOH has a Christian approach and am excited it comes in audio form!

  133. I would love to see how the audio books work. That is one thing I’ve never tried or implemented.

  134. This would be amazing!

  135. We are “on the go” homeschoolers and this would be GREAT for learning time in our car 😉 Thanks for doing the giveaway and coupon!

  136. These are great! As my 2nd child is growing up, I realize the need for more multi-level options!

  137. I’ve heard this curriculum makes history fun so I would love to win this!

  138. We have had Mystery of History on our wishlist for a while! I love how it is Christ-centered and so comprehensive, plus my girls love audiobooks!!

  139. Great! Bible history and world history combined!!!

    I would love to win this!

  140. We love Mystery of History because it integrates Bible with World studies. We especially love the activities for different levels!

  141. I love that MOH is for all ages! That is great for my four kids.

  142. The fact that it is creation-based, Christ-centered, and stands on the authoritative Word of God <3

  143. Love that it covers history from the beginning, biblically based, and can be reused in later years so I don’t have to buy new curriculum one we are done.

  144. We like how MOH is based on a Christian worldview. I would love to use the audios for for my younger children.

  145. I just found out I’m pregnant with my third so audio books are going to be really handy for the exhausting pregnant and newborn stages! I also love that the curriculum has literature suggestions and activities. I had heard of this curriculum but never looked into it until now. Definitely on my wish list now!

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