Homeschooling one child is a challenge. Homeschooling two or three? Very difficult. Homeschooling 9 children? Are there even any words for that? Yet that’s what Karen Derrico, star of TLC’s Doubling Down with the Derricos and homeschool mom extraordinaire, does on a daily basis!
Bridgeway Academy recently hosted a webinar in which Karen spoke about her family (14 kids!!), what inspired her and her husband Deon to homeschool their children (with the help of Bridgeway!), and how to do it while not completely losing your mind.
With that, we’d like to share with you Karen Derrico’s tips for homeschooling multiple children while maintaining your sanity!
Tip #1: Get Organized
It sounds so simple, but when you have multiple children to homeschool, the vision of a neat and tidy class area quickly becomes a mirage. But one of the keys to homeschool success with more than one child (and one, for that matter!) is organization. Depending on your children’s ages, you may need to help them get organized–but as they grow older, they should develop a routine designed to keep things neat. School supplies such as a computer, lapboard, writing instruments, notebooks, and markers should all have a home–and should live there when school is not in session.
Tip #2: Use a Timer
Trying to wrangle two or more kids into their home classroom might be enough to chip away at your sanity. Attempting to gather 9? Think about that for a moment…and then you’ll understand why Karen suggests using a timer. She recommends setting it for 45 minutes before you’re ready to start school; this gives the kids plenty of time to get dressed and prepare themselves for the school day. If 45 minutes is too much or too little, feel free to adjust to whatever works for you.
Tip #3: Allow Extra Time for Challenging Subjects
This is one of the real advantages of homeschooling. In a traditional school, the teacher instructs the lesson and moves on; if your student doesn’t comprehend the material, oh well…time to move on. But with homeschooling, the built-in flexibility allows for parents to spend more time helping their kids with subjects in which they might be struggling. When Karen’s children are having a tough time with a subject, she has them practice with additional worksheets and write down the concepts they don’t understand–that way, she or Deon can work on those problem areas together with the kids.
Tip #4: Hold Your Child Accountable
As a parent trying to educate multiple children, you simply don’t have time to clean up after your kids. That’s one of the reasons Karen is a believer in holding your children accountable–especially when it comes to getting ready for school and cleaning up once the day is over. She recommends creating a checklist for each child, and making sure that each box is checked before and after school every day. A couple of checklist examples:
- Make sure computers are plugged in after class.
- Make sure homework is complete.
- Make sure every desk is clean.
- Make sure all supplies are put away where they belong.
You can customize your own checklist to include everything you feel is appropriate for a school day.
Tip #5: Give Yourself Prep Time Too!
As a homeschooling parent, you’re doing double duty as a teacher. And teachers need time to prepare their classes each day–so make sure you’re giving yourself that time. Not only do you need to create lesson plans and a basic framework for instruction on each topic, but you need to gain a decent understanding of what it is you’re teaching and what you’re assigning your child. So, take however much time you need each evening or morning to get acquainted with the material. But make sure you get plenty of rest as well–teaching multiple kids is exhausting…but rewarding, of course!
There’s no doubt that you have your hands full homeschooling more than one child. But by following Karen Derrico’s advice, it can become quite manageable. After all, she handles it while homeschooling nine children! With patience, practice, and Karen’s helpful tips, you’ll get it down in no time.
For more useful tips and information, check out our blog articles, Teaching Your Homeschooler How to Set Goals and 6 Homeschooling Tips and Strategies from Bridgeway CEO Jessica Parnell.