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There came a point in our homeschooling journey when all five of our children were in school at the same time. For 3 years I balanced teaching early elementary with high school students. If I’ve ever felt like a candle being burnt at both ends, it was at this time, when they were older.
Once I changed our schedule and put Bible first in our day, I never changed it back. But, there were a few changes in our lives along the way.
Our first change came when we decided to enroll our oldest in a private school. He was in 7th grade, and we had decided we would place them into private school once they reached that grade. The church we attended had a wonderful program, and our children knew many of the other children through church.
The first two months were very hard, as my son had never been away from me daily like that. Besides the stress of wondering how his day was going, I was teaching the other three school-age children at home, plus we had the toddler. I taught my daughter to read during this time.
A year later there was more change: we moved from our home in Wisconsin to a rental place in Kansas. Wisconsin had always been my home, we bought our first house there, and it was the only home our children knew. But, I was ready for the adventure of moving and living in another state! There was no church-school near our new residence that we were comfortable using, so all five children were taught at home that year. It was at this time that I added our youngest child into our school day as a preschooler.
A year later we bought our second house and moved again. There was a wonderful school at the church we started attending, so our oldest was enrolled once again. We also enrolled our second oldest, but soon found that it wasn’t a good fit for him. I had four at home and taught the youngest to read that year.
A year later found us moving once again due to a job change for my husband. This move took us to Oklahoma. With no private school in the area that fit our needs, all five were learning at home once again. This would be the norm for us for the remainder of our homeschool journey (as far as I know … there’s still two years left).
I had two in high school, one in middle school and two in elementary. I was stretched thin trying to teach the upper grades, so when our homeschool group started a co-op, I shipped the two oldest off for math and science! Math has never been my strong suit, and science … well, let’s just say that I can’t even make celery turn blue!
Our school days still began with Bible, and then we’d work on math until the older boys had to leave for co-op. While they were gone, I was able to focus on the three younger children.
The next year our oldest attended the local technical college. He took morning classes and was gone until noon. Our day still started with Bible and continued as normal, but his day was flipped around: he did independent Bible and academic work in the afternoons when he returned from Tech.
During that time, we also enroll our second son in a tutorial center. This was basically a co-op, except with paid teachers (most were homeschooling moms). After our first graduated, our second and third sons both attended the tutorial center in the afternoons. Our days still started with Bible, and there was lots of driving involved until the second one obtained his license.
When the second one graduated, the third continued to take math and science classes at the tutorial center. He was driving a motorcycle at this time, so I was free to continue teaching the youngest two while he went off to classes. The following two years he was at Tech and caught the bus at the local high school. He took afternoon classes, but caught the bus at 11:15 — we still had Bible in the morning. The younger children and I were able to focus on their math and other academics while he was gone.
Teaching younger and older students can be quite challenging. Most of those challenges were mine, as I tried to shift my brain between the different levels of teaching I was doing. But the biggest challenge was in knowing who had to be where and when.
There was one time when cousins arrived in town, and I got to talking … I forgot to pick up my son from school! I was an hour late and we didn’t have cell phones back then. I’m not sure why the teacher didn’t call me. Needless to say, I never forgot a child again!
Some years were busier than others when they were older. Some years were spent car-schooling (I usually took the youngest with me to drop off or pick up a sibling). But every year found our days starting with Bible first, and it always will!