Homeschool Corner

Teaching Multiple Grade Levels

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Teaching multiple grades. Yeah, that’s a doozy for a lot of moms. I mean, seriously, how do you work with a high schooler while you have the 4–year–old pulling everything out of your underwear drawer and building a tent (don’t ask). Sometimes I feel like I’m all mixed up; one of these days I’m really going to lose my marbles. I can just see myself telling my oldest one to make sure he uses the potty (properly) while barking out orders to my youngest to go thaw something out for dinner. Err … scratch—reverse that. It’s just funny because you have to be all things to all (they expect you to be … The Mama), and sometimes you wonder if you can even BE you that day. Where’s the coffee? Forget the coffee; where’s my bed? 

But seriously, I guess it’s a day–by–day process. Focus on relationship building; make sure eye contact is happening. I have one child to whom I am constantly saying: "Look at me! I am talking to you!" Drives me nuts when you’re trying to hold a conversation with your kid who both listens and talks with his eyes rolling all over the place. I tell him, "I don’t have eyes in the back of my head; get back in here and look at me while we’re talking." Meanwhile, the 4–year–old has climbed up the curtains or something, and the 1–year–old is gazing intently at me while I’m bumbling around trying to deal. "Look at your baby sister; how come you can’t stare at me like that when I’m talking to you?" (Why would the kid want to? I’m looking and sounding a little half–crazed at this point—and the day has only just gotten started.)

I guess relationship is key. Maybe I’m the one not making enough eye contact. Time to close up the computer and go find someone to stare at … er … talk to. So I guess it boils down to this: what’s most important are relationships with all your kids, no matter their ages. 

So what if math gets skipped today with the eighth–grader if it meant you were dealing with heart issues for several hours with the tenth–grader? And the 4–year–old ate a great breakfast, your hair is combed (you’re ahead of me here already), the tenth–grader is staring (looking!) at you properly again (the heart talk worked), and guess what? The eighth–grader can do her math tomorrow. If she were in public school, she may not have done math today anyway because of the required Gay Parade in the auditorium or Tolerance Day at the park across the street, where you get to meet and greet that month’s mentors (?) or the Let’s Visit Our Friends the Trees symposium or whatever other social event it was that stamped out the 3R’s—see? Math didn’t happen there either. (Seriously, when I was a tenth–grader in public school, our class went outside and—I kid you not—we hugged a tree. I felt like an idiot but pretended it was cool.) 

Don’t get frazzled (don’t follow my example!). Instead, get them all in a circle, start the day with prayer so they can get their eyes working and "stare" on the Lord for a while first—with you. Then get started (your hair looks fine … well, it doesn’t, but will it matter four years from now when you’re at your oldest son’s wedding looking like a glowing beauty?).

Now, the normal disclaimers, lest I get letters from folks exclaiming over the benefits of tree–hugging (both to me and the tree). Let’s see. Disclaimer number one. I like trees and I love fruit and shade and stuff. Disclaimer number two. I’m a fan of tolerance. I tolerate my kids when they’re driving me nuts. I (try to) let love cover a multitude of sins. When I ask Paul to bring me an extra hot mocha with whipped cream and he flat out forgets, I don’t tolerate that too much. Need to practice 1 Peter 4:8 (because we all know that mocha–forgetting is totally a sin). But really, like if my child wakes up in a sour mood not really able to pull himself out of it at the snap of a finger, I can choose to cover that (or tolerate it) because of my love for him/her. Hopefully they’re learning to cover my sins, too, in the spirit of 1 Peter 4:8. Relationships help with that. 

Enjoy a tree today (God made it!), but hug your child (and stare at him/her with joy and love in your eyes). Keep walking, my friend; you are in His hand. God’s not down on you about the missed math assignment today, by the way, so don’t you be, either. May your hearts "stare" at one another today. May they rise up and call you blessed. 


Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Homeschool Minute, September 7, 2011.

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