Juggling Multiple Kids in Your Homeschool

I have three kids who are very close in age. This means I feel like I hit the homeschool mom jackpot. Don’t get me wrong, our homeschool days are not without challenges, but my kids have been fairly simple to teach as a group.

I know there are moms with far more children or large age spans who struggle to juggle their many kids during their school day. Welcome to our three-part series on how to get this done.

This first segment is going to be all about my best tips for juggling multiple kids. Over the next two weeks, I will also be joined by two guests with four or more children. One mom is going to be talking about how she found freedom in a strict schedule (crazy I know) and another is going to share how she combines kids and uses looping to manage to teach everyone. Her approach to looping is truly novel!

For today, however, let’s start with a few tips for how to manage when you have more than one child in your homeschool.

Listen to the Podcast:

Combining is Key

I can’t stress enough that combining your kids for content area subjects is a must. Content area subjects are the subjects like history, science, and literature that do not rely on a specific set of skills taught in a particular order (like math or reading which are skill area subjects). For content subjects, you can combine kids and teach to the older kids. Don’t worry if your younger child understands everything you are teaching about the Middle Ages — they will likely get it again before they graduate.

You can read aloud a good book on Ancient History to everyone and then have older kids do additional reading and other activities on their own. My Teaching with Booklists workshop can show you how to practically make this happen. The younger kids just need to listen to the readings and narrate.

Teaching multiple kids in this way eliminates the need for multiple texts and juggling different science topics and streams of history. It simplifies your homeschool immensely.

Having a Plan

The other key for juggling multiple kids is to be sure to have a simple plan in place. The more children you have the harder it is to fly by the seat of your pants each day without stress and decision fatigue. The key to good homeschool planning is to simply be prepared to have a good school day when the opportunity arises.

We suggest making a list of activities you want to do but don’t date them and then strive for consistently doing school. This removes the pressure of “being behind” and eliminates the decision fatigue of not knowing what to do next.


As much as possible use curriculum that is “open and go” for mom and as kids get older seek out good video-based curriculum. Some of our favorites are:

  • All About Reading (Note: I never prepped the activities ahead of time, but simply cut the pieces apart as we sat doing the lesson. It was great to do while my child practiced reading aloud.)
  • All About Spelling
  • Phonetic Zoo – Independent spelling program for kids after AAS 3.
  • Math U See – My kids would watch the videos and I would only watch if they had trouble understanding.
  • IEW Structure and Style – Let Andrew Pudewa teach your kids writing! We also broke the video over three days instead of two.
  • Fix It Grammar

These curricula are not completely hands off for mom, but instead, open-and-go with almost no prep needed. These are also what I call “sticky note” curriculum in that your lesson plan merely consists of adding a sticky note to the teachers book where you left off and picking up in that spot the next time you do that subject. Easy peasy.

Make a List

Every child needs to know exactly what they are supposed to do. Having multiple children come to you asking what to do next each day is a sure path to exhaustion for you. Instead, use something like a spiral notebook list to communicate to each child what is expected of them each day.

These lists would take me about 30 seconds to one minute to make (I cheat by having a master list for each child that reminds me of the possibilities.)

Kids love them too because they know exactly what it is they need to complete before they are done for the day.

Watch on YouTube:

The Beauty of Busywork

Busywork gets a bad reputation in homeschool circles, but I contend that sometimes it can be a useful tool for moms who are managing multiple kids. As I talked about in episode __ about transitions in your homeschool, sometimes it is better to find a child some school to do near you than it is to let them go off while they wait for you to get done with another child and try to get them to come back and finish.

When my kids were little I would pad their lists with things like:

  • Sheppard Software games
  • Audiobooks
  • Copy work or handwriting practice (or a lettering book)
  • Explode the Code
  • Computer typing practice

I would also start working with the youngest child first, work with him until he was completely finished, release him, and then move to the next oldest child. This way my biggest distraction with the smallest attention span got done and left the room first.