One of the struggles of homeschooling more than one student is keeping topics fresh through the years. Sure the American Revolution is an exciting new subject for your elementary student, but you feel as though you could teach it in your sleep after having taught it twice (or more) already.
That’s true for most topics, so how do you keep subjects fresh and exciting to you, the teaching parent, so that you’re fully engaged and enjoying learning alongside your younger kids?
1. Change Up Curriculum That You Don’t Absolutely Love
Homeschool parents are a pretty frugal lot. We like to buy something for kid #1 and get our money’s worth by using it for all subsequent children. This thrifty plan may be an excellent idea for a product that you really love. But consider the reasons it could be a terrible idea.
Not all children learn the same. Just because it was perfect for one child, doesn’t mean it will work for all of your children. It’s okay to save and reuse curriculum if it’s working, but be willing to let go of things that have lost their appeal.
Newer editions may offer upgrades and improvements. As an example, we bought Teaching Textbooks Algebra I before it provided the technology to grade student work automatically. You’d better believe I snatched up the newer edition for my younger kids when they were ready for it. I’ve even got the new, online version for my youngest.
You may need a change. Unless you really love it, using the same curriculum over and over may squelch your enthusiasm for the subject. Your attitude toward schoolwork is contagious, so it might be worth the expense to ditch the dull and try something new.
2. Choose New Read-Alouds
Unless there was a read-aloud that was a particular favorite for you and your older child, explore new books that cover the same topics with younger students. If you consider a specific book a don’t-miss for your kids but don’t want to read it aloud again, assign it for independent reading or get an audio copy.
3. Try New Projects
Our paper mache Earth was probably the best project we’ve ever done, but I didn’t repeat it with Josh and Megan. I wanted to do other things with them when we learned about Earth’s layers. Besides, they helped a bit with the original, so they weren’t complaining about not making their own model.
Now, volcanoes? Everybody has done their own erupting volcano. More than once. That’s a fun, simple project for all ages.
Balance is the key. If there was a project that everyone loved, do it. However, it’s okay if all your kids don’t have an identical homeschool experience. There’s so much to explore. Don’t feel that you’re shortchanging a kid by making changes.
[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s okay if all your kids don’t have an identical homeschool experience. There’s so much to explore. Don’t feel that you’re shortchanging a kid by making changes.” quote=”It’s okay if all your kids don’t have an identical homeschool experience. There’s so much to explore. Don’t feel that you’re shortchanging a kid by making changes.”]
4. Go on Different Field Trips
There are those iconic field trips that you may have to do for all of your kids, like touring the fire department. But it can get boring going to the same old places. When I was a kid, our Brownie troop visited McDonald’s. It was the coolest thing ever!
Then our school group went.
Then another group.
It wasn’t so much fun by the last time.
If you’re considering a repeat trip that will benefit your kids, go, but if you’re only going to check off a box, skip it and find an alternative.
5. Explore Your Students’ Interests
Keep school fresh by following your students’ lead. I had one that was interested in horses, drawing, and Shakespeare. Another is into music (instruments), computers, and investing. My third loves music (singing), photography, and video creation.
Follow your students’ interest for a uniquely tailored homeschool experience. Even if your core curriculum stays the same, the customizations you make for each child can keep the spark alive as you school the oldest through the youngest.
When it’s time to plan a new school year, remember that if you’re bored, your kids probably are, too. Just a few simple changes can keep the learning experience fresh and exciting for your students and you.
If you’ve been homeschooling a while, what tips would you add for keeping things fresh?
updated from an article originally published May 5, 2012