So here’s the thing.
I have a lot of kids. And not a lot of space.
There are currently six children in varying grades homeschooling here, not counting the two toddlers who are doing their own thing. (Mostly flooding the bathroom or dumping out beads or decorating the window sills with markers they unlawfully swiped, or teasing each other till they both scream. But I digress.)
So we do most of our homeschool on the kitchen table, all clumped together, because it’s the best place with a flat surface that’s moderately clean. The toddlers often join us, with coloring books and crayons.
Although, as I write this, it occurs to me that actually the majority of my true teaching time is spent next to a child on the floor… hmm.
Because of these two things (lots of kids, not lots of space), the most streamlined and efficient way for me to teach is to try to get the most kids I can learning from the same textbook AT THE SAME TIME, and adjust the lesson as needed for varying ages/grades/abilities.
Sort of like a one-room schoolhouse approach. Or “Clump and Conquer”, as I like to think. (It’s the large-family better half of divide and conquer!)
Here’s how it works for writing in my house:
I take this wonderful writing workbook by Susan Wise Bauer, and I use it as a source text for several different kids at the same time, because it’s so easily adaptable!
Each week is broken up into only four different work days, alternating copy work and narration. This is great if you need a break day, or if you need a day to catch up.
For copy work days, I first copy out the two sentences given in the workbook on a small whiteboard. We briefly go over the point of the lesson for that day – for example, capitalizing proper nouns – and then I have the kids tell me where examples of those are in the sentences.
Once it’s clear that each child grasps the concept taught that day, they copy one or both of the sentences in a notebook (I use the composition-type notebooks). I check for letter form and spelling, encouraging or correcting as needed, and then they’re done for the day.
Narration days include reading a short selection in the workbook, usually from a classic children’s book, and then I ask a series of questions (also in the workbook), to train the children to listen carefully and thoughtfully. They must answer in complete sentences (there are example answers given in the workbook), and then at the end, they each answer the question, “What is something you remember from the passage?” and then I write down the complete sentence from each child on the white board. Each child can copy their own sentence (or everyone’s, if they want!).
It’s amazing how much more fun and interesting writing can be if you’re writing down your own created sentence! My kids surprise me often by how interesting, long, and varied their sentences are. Then they cheerily write them down in their notebooks.
Quick side note: My older children write in cursive, my younger in print. I provide handwriting/penmanship workbooks to each of my children to supplement their schooling. I think training them in cursive is a great discipline for hand-eye coordination as well as helping increase patience, control, dexterity, and memory/increased retention in learning. For more info, check out this and similar articles: https://www.success.com/the-benefits-of-handwriting/
The lessons are simple, short, and completely achievable, usually less than 15 minutes. The reading selections are usually quite interesting and have stimulated my children’s curiosity and interest in many other books (requiring more trips to the library, or great birthday/Christmas gift ideas!).
I love that they are getting a dose of Language Arts, grammar, penmanship, spelling, reading comprehension, and exposure to great classic literature all at the same time, across varying grade levels, while all together at the table.
This model is so simple that after using the workbook (it is designed for use by one child, with blank lined spaces for the writing corresponding to each lesson in the back, but I obviously put my own spin on it based on my family’s needs), you could easily design your own simple daily “writing class” using material taken from your family’s favorite stories and classic books.
Efficient, comprehensive, painless – just how I wish all the rest of homeschooling was more often!
Did you enjoy writing as a child? What about now?
You’re doing an amazing work in teaching your children, and you should be proud of yourself!
Cheering you on,
If this post was helpful or encouraging to you, please share it on your social media, and let me know – I’ll be delighted and pleased! (Thank you!)