Are you looking for homeschool curriculum that will work for the different ages of children in your family? For many years now, I have had to learn how to teach multiple children in several grade levels. I want their education to be individualized, yet meet the needs of our whole family. In this post I share the specifics of the kinds of curriculum we use in our home every day. Here’s Our Large Family Homeschool Curriculum.
If you are new to the blog, my husband and I have nine children. This year I have seven in school and two preschoolers. Here is the grade level break down for this year: 12th, 9th, 8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd, and Kindergarten. This is quite a large age gap! Here’s how we make it work.
Video: Our Large Family Homeschool Curriculum
Benefits of Staying With The Same Curriculum
For the most part, we have stayed with the same curriculum that I picked from the very beginning. With the exception of Math, all our choices below are ones we have used for the past 13 years of homeschooling. The reason I have done this is because I have seen how much the younger children pick up from watching their older siblings do school work. When they are finally old enough to start, they are familiar with the layout and the content, expectations, and teaching style. SO MANY times I have started to teach my budding school age child a new concept only to see that they already know it. They have heard all the history songs 5 different time periods because they have been sitting beside an older sibling listening to them for several years before starting school themselves.
Staying with the same curriculum gives the younger kids an advantage. It also makes less work for me in learning a new curriculum. Every time a mom switches curriculum, it takes a period of time to learn the new layout. Because I have stayed with the same curriculum over a long period of time, I have become better at teaching it.
Having said all this, I would not discourage someone from changing curriculums if something is not working for the family or meeting the individual needs of the child.
I think it is important to talk about outsourcing. Just because you are homeschooling your kids does not mean that you need to teach everything to every child. You only need to decide what is taught, when it is taught, and who is teaching it. We have outsourced many subject areas. Our kids study Art, PE, Music, and other electives through a bi-weekly co-op. They also have participated in music lessons, sports, and clubs through outside teachers and programs. In high school, our kids attend a second co-op once a week to help with some of the higher level subjects like math, science, and writing.
Do not feel that you need to do it all! Outsourcing subjects can be a huge help to a mom who has several children at home.
Ambleside Online is the main source I use for all of our homeschool. Most of the selections below come from Ambleside Online suggestions.
Ambleside Online is a Charlotte Mason style of classically based curriculum that focuses on short lessons, living books, habits, science through observation and relationships, history learned chronologically, and a knowledge of God as understood through the Bible.
I think it is important to say that Ambleside Online is not necessarily a curriculum designed for a large family. It is just the curriculum I have loved from the very beginning. I have adapted it and made it work through the years as our family has grown.
It is a rich curriculum with an exhaustive list of resources. One mistake I see many AO users make is to feel like they have to do everything on the AO schedule for a given year. (Even if you are teaching only one child, there is no way you could cover all the material suggest in AO!)
I have viewed Ambleside as a feast from which I can pick the things I really love.
Initially with our older children, I was able to do a lot of the book suggestions in a school year. Now, I just pick my favorites and use the curriculum loosely. I have found AO book suggestions to be the cream of the crop when I have compared them to so many other book lists.
Ambleside Online is my number one go-to for literature read alouds and independent reading. I assign the kids that can read some AO books to read on their own. The rest of the books I want to cover I read in Read Aloud time. During this time, we discuss the character, plot, theme, etc. and all of the type of lessons you would discuss in a literature study.
We learn the writing process through the practice of copy work, narration, and notebooking. Copy work is an EXCELLENT practice for large families because it covers so much ground (vocabulary, spelling, form, style, etc.) with one short daily habit. Our kids copy pieces from the book suggestions from Ambleside Online. You can find the downloadable list of the copy work that our kids use here as well as a step-by-step description of how we practice copywork.
Narration is another skill that is kind of like an all-in-one. When kids practice oral and written narration regularly, they naturally become better writers as they have to think through the process of retelling an event.
As soon as our kids can write proficiently, they begin learning to type using the keyboarding tutorials from the online program senselang.org.
For more on how I use AO to teach writing, these posts go into more detail.
- Helpful Habits for Writing #1: Creating a Literate Environment
- Helpful Habits for Writing #2: Copying the Best Pieces from Great Authors
- Helpful Habits for Writing #3: Narration
- Helpful Habits for Writing #4: Notebooking
*This post contains affiliate links in which I may make a small profit at no cost to you.
In fourth grade, our kids begin studying grammar. We use Abeka Language Workbooks for this. I like the simple way that Abeka Language progresses through the types of sentences, punctuation, and parts of speech. Each page has the new concept in bold at the top, so kids are able for the most part to work through the book on their own.
Additionally, there is a very useful handbook at the end of each workbook which gives a summary of the lessons. We memorize the lists of “be” verbs, helping verbs, subjective and objective pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions. (By the time our younger kids start grammar lessons, they have heard these lists so many times, they have already memorized them!)
Math is one subject in which I have switched curriculum. When I started homeschooling, I loved (and still love!) the way Right Start Math teaches math through the base ten system and through games and manipulatives.
I learned how to teach math from Right Start Math.
The only downside to Right Start is that it is VERY teacher intensive. Each lesson must be done one-on-one with each child. By the time I had three kids in school, teaching three individual math lessons along with all our other school work was beginning to wear me out! Gradually, I began to realize I had to do something different!
As a result, I switched to Singapore Math. I like it because it is a textbook and workbook that kids can do more independently. Initially, I was nervous about switching from teacher-directed lessons to independent learning, but I was surprised that my kids were motivated by seeing all that needed to be done rather than wondering how long mom was going to keep teaching the lesson.
I also like Singapore because the lessons are short and very well explained. The textbook explains the concepts so clearly, kids are able to progress largely on their own. The kids understand that they are to bring their work to me when they are starting a new concept or when they are struggling to understand the lesson. Often, I use the Right Start games and manipulatives along with what I have learned from teaching Right Start to show them the new skill. Other times, I may refer to the Singapore teacher’s manual to glance at the lesson and then explain it to the child in my own words.
Pin it! Our Large Family Homeschool Curriculum
History is one subject I have outsourced. Our kids learn history through Veritas self-paced history Courses. I cannot say enough how much I love Veritas Press! I feel that Veritas Press is so well done! The kids learn more from the online self-paced lessons than they would if I was teaching them. Here are some of my favorite things about the program.
- Kids learn history chronologically from Creation to Modern Times in five years. Each year they memorize a song of 32 events/people in chronological order of that time period.
- Creation and Ancient Egypt
- Old Testament Greece and Rome
- Middle Ages Renaissance and Reformation
- Explorers to 1815
- 1815 to Modern Times
- Weaves Biblical History and Church History in with World History.
- Live actors on site of the area being studied.
- Interactive games and graded quizzes/tests.
- 32 beautiful history timeline cards with artistic depictions of the time period.
- Fiction and non-fiction book suggestions for those who want to read more about the time period being studied.
You can get a two week free trial to any self-paced history course to see if it is something that your kids will like. This program has been a perfect fit for us as a large family. My kids have learned so much about history, yet it is something they can do on their own.
Seterra We use many of the geography book selections from Ambleside Online, but one of our go-to resources is seterra.com. Seterra has over 400 free map quizzes and games for kids to learn countries, capitols, and physical land marks by region. The kids go online for 10 minutes a day and learn different sections of the world.
Another simple way we learn geography is this. Every time we read about a place, we get out a map and look it up. It’s easy and puts the story in context.
Homeschool in the Woods Make-a-State Activity Pak. Every now and then I do a unit study of our state. I love the lap books from Homeschool In the Woods, especially their state lap books. They require a little work printing and cutting out, but it makes a nice unit study to break up the year.
We use many of the Ambleside Online book suggestions to study science. I especially like the Burgess Animal Book and Burgess Bird Book. I read these aloud while the kids color the corresponding animals in the Peterson Coloring book for birds or mammals .
We also have used Apologia Science for several years. I usually read a section of a chapter as part of our afternoon Read Aloud time. Occasionally the kids will try the experiments afterward. I like the note-booking journals that you can buy separately, but have found that we only use about half of the notebook pages. I usually buy one notebook and make copies of the pages I want to use.
If I have one critique of Apologia, it would be that the lessons can sometimes be too detailed for my taste. This may be great for a child who really has a specific interest in that topic, but I generally prefer a broader study.
For some of the inspiring subjects that I want us to learn altogether, we have a daily Morning Time. In Morning Time we do a Bible story, Scripture memory, other memory work, poetry, picture study, composer study, and more. You can read all about our Morning Time routine in How to Simplify Your Homeschool with Morning Time.
There are 5 fundamental routines that we have tried to give each of our kids at preschool age. They are work time, outside time, read aloud time, quiet time, and exploration time. You can read more about them in 5 Important Routines for a Homeschool Preschool.
I work one-on-one with our youngest school age children to teach them to read, write, and understand the fundamentals of math. I use Bob Books to teach our kids how to read. If you would like to read more specific details on how I do this, read Simple Steps for Teaching Reading That Work.
Handwriting Without Tears is a wonderful curriculum to help children learn to how to write their letters and numbers. As soon as they finish this program and can write all their capital letters, small letters, and short words, I have them copy a sentence from the Bob Book they are reading as a beginning daily copy work lesson.
Once our kids can count to 20 and have a basic understanding of one-to-one counting correspondence, I have them start using Singapore Math Level 1A. This workbook is what our kids do for Kindergarten. They are able to progress easily through these workbooks with assisted teaching from me from time to time as they begin new concepts.
In high school, we have outsourced some of the higher level subjects (specifically math, science, and writing) and elective classes to a second co-op that our kids attend once a week. For these classes they are responsible other teachers with whom they communicate throughout the week.
I still teach a few subjects at home, specifically Literature and History. For Literature, we use many of the Ambleside Online book suggestions. For our History study, we have enjoyed reading through the 4 volume series of Story of the World as well as the 5 volume History Lives series. The History Lives Series chronicles the history of the church in historical fiction.
Leave a Comment!
What curriculum are you using that you absolutely love? Leave a comment and share with others! I enjoy hearing what resources other moms are using. I hope reading about our large family homeschool curriculum has given you some insight and ideas, no matter what size family you have!
More Large Family Posts
Our Homeschool Routine | Day in the Life Mom of 9
10 Tips for How to Homeschool a Large Family
Mom of Nine shares how to Homeschool While Pregnant
Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!
We’re looking at starting in 2 years when our set of four year olds are done at Montessori. We’re intimidated by that but 9….! We’ll definitely learn a lot of encouragement from your blog
Thanks so much! Don’t be intimidated, you can do it! Best decision we ever made as a family. And we just did one child at a time, one year at a time. It isn’t easy, but it sure is rewarding!
Love that you can pick and choose and tailor the materials to your children. Great, comprehensive list of homeschool curriculum!
That’s the beauty of homeschooling…being able to adapt it to the needs of individual kids and the lifestyle of the family. Thanks so much!
We’ve been homeschooling for three years now so I haven’t really ventured outside out into all the homeschool resources yet. But that Ambleside website looks super interesting. We try to Charlotte Mason style our homeschool whenever possible, but I’m far from perfect. And I love those Burgess books so may need to get them even if it’s just to incorporate them into our current science curriculums!
I do love Ambleside! It’s such a great resource! The Burgess books are my kids’ favorites. We always find a short YouTube clip (BBC or Planet Earth or the like) to watch to go along with the animal we are reading about and the kids love that!
I love seeing these tried and trues for homeschooling curriculum. I am just this year beginning very simple lessons with my oldest who is 4 years old.. it can quickly become overwhelming just starting out, so this is so helpful for me to see exactly what has worked well for you and your kids!
Hi! Could you talk more about a typing program? I see you linked the senselang.org but the link seems to be old or being bought out by another company. My 8yo is interested in learning to type. Thank you.
I checked the link and it is working properly on my end. If you are on a mobile app, you might have to scroll down farther. It is the “keyboarding tutorial” lessons. There are 16 lessons. It’s probably not the best thing out there, but it is simple and no fluff and has worked for us for all our kids.
Amanda Renee Richardson
Thank You Sherri, I appreciate you taking the time to share your tried and true resources. We have 2 schooling now (8yo & 6yo)) with a toddler underfoot, hoping more may come if God wills! I have been trying to get our footing; I am adding new things little by little as I feel that we can handle. As of now, we do 10-15 minutes of LA/Reading and 10-15mins of a math lesson, some independent copy work and Piano; with reading picture books to cover the rest! I want to add history using very short, simple, living books that are good for a short daily read with young, wiggly boys and toddler. I really want to be able to find this sort that I can use chronologically. Any suggestions? I would like to do the Veritas Press once my boys get another year or two older. Thank you!
You’re welcome! Sounds like you have a good plan and rhythm going! I love to hear when moms of littles are doing short lessons and not feeling like they have to do everything. That’s a lesson I learned the hard way!
I really like Child’s History of the World by Virgil Hillyer for a simple chronological read for young kids. The first couple of chapters have some evolution themes, so I start at chapter 5. Also, Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire picture books are beautiful and perfect for young ages, but they aren’t chronological. I hope that gives some ideas!
Amanda Renee Richardson
I will check those out thank you!
Amanda Renee Richardson
The link worked! It was just my phone that couldnt open it well I guess. Thanks
Oh good! Glad to hear!
Ok, I have been interested in veritas self pace courses for years but unfortunately never bite the bullet. My oldest is 12 I have 6 almost 7 children. Two questions . Would you start in the beginning with ancient Egyptian even with an older student ? Do you buy a course for each grade level? Or do you buy one a year and everyone goes through it. Just wondering if I could start this now .
In the past have I have started in the beginning with ancient Egypt. Since our oldest is 18, we have gone through all five years twice and are on our 3rd time around. (Not all the kids, obviously…after the 5th year they are done and move on to other history.) In the future, however, I will probably not do ancient Egypt, but start right at Greece and Rome because that first year is a lot of Bible that they already get from other reading that we do. I think it depends how much Bible they get in other areas. If you use it partially as a Bible curriculum, Ancient Egypt is great. If you do other Bible reading, it might feel like too much doubled up.
We buy the course and the whole family does the same year. It’s easier for us to all be doing the same thing. Veritas Press has been a huge help for me with having a large family, especially with our wide age span. They kids have really learned a lot and it has relieved me to know they are learning through an excellent program that doesn’t take time away from me that I need to be spending on other needs.