Home educating a large brood.

I hear people ask, will I cope home educating all my children?

I have a 3yr old daughter plus 3 older sons and have home educated all, and some at different times.

My eldest has diagnosed ASD and ADHD and can at times be quite a handful. I first began home educating him at the age of 7 alone.

Being my first Home Ed experience I was desperately trying to immitate school which I look back on now and cringe! Poor kid.

After a while the others followed suit and became home educated too.

I loved having them all at home. We joined many groups and spent most of the summer months out of the house at parks and pools, beaches, museums and anything cheap and fun for them to just experience life.

We would work when it suited us. Quite often we’d all sit round the table with our work at 9pm at night!

Being self employed, I was and still am lucky that I can work my own hours so just fit it in as and when. (Although it is always at the back of my mind that I am not working as much as I could if they were in school) But I have decided to enjoy their childhoods now and earn full time later!

When I had all the children at home I tended to follow what the older two wanted to do and the little two just followed along. My youngest was born into a Home Ed world and my youngest son had never been to school and watching them learn from their older siblings was amazing.

I gave my older children chores around the house which they wouldn’t have otherwise done but when you’re home all day or out all day with kids and no ‘time out’ from parenting then a bit of help with chores is almost a given.

Just small jobs such as emptying the dish washer and hanging out the washing on a nice day. Making their own beds….

Board games were our best friend in the Winter months. I bought as many educational games as i could find and we did lots of cooking together. My children now 13 and 10 are so capable in the kitchen that they love to show off to our family by cooking whenever they get the chance.

With my eldest sons difficulties times can and could be very difficult and I had days like everyone else where I wandered if i was doing the right thing. But once you really commit you find it just starts working.

I found it so much easier to be out of the house with my eldest as he was always into something and up to no good if left with no activity. He isn’t able to ammuse himself and will destroy what the youger children are doing if left to his own accord. So sports were a must. Swimming, trampolining, anything i could afford to wear him out. Learning at his own pace calmed him down and choosing subjects he wanted rather than subjects I wanted was key.

For a short while my eldest sons wanted to go back to school so I was left with a 5 and 2yr old.

I had to completely change the way I home Educated. Id spent so long teaching the older ones and not being able to afford all the learning experiences I’d like that I suddenly realised I could now afford to take my 5yr old out to science classes and Art lessons, drama etc which I just couldn’t do with them all. On top of that life had been going at a fast pace due to my eldest sons needs. We were out of the house most of the time to wear him out, yet now I found myself with two calm children who happily stay home and play with toys which actually meant I could squeeze in a bit more of my own work.

My youngest son has had a very different home Ed experience in that with one child and a toddler it was very calm and we slotted into a routine around him instead of dragging him around to things his brothers were doing.

What else fascinated me about my youngest son is that he taught himself to read and write with no forced learning. It has really hit home that all those early years at school ‘teaching’ them to read and write is completely unnecessary and a total waste of time when he has spent the first 7 years of his life playing and having fun instead of sitting in a class room yet can read and write as well as some secondary school aged children I know!

Alot of his learning of this has been through computer games on the laptop. He chose the games and when he wanted to play and in this instance it has certainly paid off.

2 years on and my older sons are back out of school due to school not being quite as fun as they thought it would be (But they gave it a good try) I find the dynamics has changed again. It is no longer about them while my youngsters follow suit. Its more balanced. My younger two have their groups and friends and my older sons are just finding their feet in the home Ed world again. Im not rushing them. They are doing online subjects of their choice and join us for family days out and have swimming and gymnastics lessons. But for the most part I am still enjoying my 7yr old and almost 4yr olds time of learning and im sure the dynamics will slowly change again as the big two adjust.

We still all work together in the evenings and I dont rush them out of bed in the mornings. My parents are very supportive and have each of the children stay over every other week in turn which certainly helps.

Its chaos and messy but its happy chaos and mess. When they’re all grown up and gone, ill look back on this time with very fond memories and I hope they will too.

If you’re considering home educating your large brood, my advice is relax and let them take the lead. Make friends and go to as many cheap home Ed groups as possible to build up a network of support. There’s plenty of big home ed families out there. But my biggest tip of all is, do not try to replicate school! That in my opinion is my only fail to date.

Good luck!

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