As moms of many we often worry, “Am I meeting the needs of each individual child?  How do I balance teaching multiple children in my homeschool?”

I have some real talk for you.  On any given day, it’s very unlikely that you will be able to perfectly balance teaching each of your children, whether you have 2 or 10.

One child may have a math crisis that can’t wait.  One child may need to dictate an essay to you while you write it down.  Another child will need your counsel with a tangled relationship.

And that’s not even considering sibling conflict, broken dishwashers, and the finite emotional and mental resources you possess as only one Mama.

On any given day, someone may get left out.  On any given day, you will not be able to make it all balanced.

So if I’m claiming daily balance is nearly impossible, does that mean it is impossible to balance homeschooling multiple children at all?  No!

Balanced Nutrition

I’d like you to think back to (or consider your current) days feeding a toddler.  Toddlers: those adorable rapscallions who often find it perfectly rational to eat 5 bananas in one day while refusing other foods.

A balanced diet for toddlers?  Very difficult to achieve on a daily basis!  On any given day, in fact, they may have completely ignored an entire major food group!

But when we step out to the bigger picture, a savvy mama is able to maintain her toddler’s balanced diet over the course of a week.  If you consider balanced nutrition as a long-term goal, by the end of the week your toddler has generally managed to get appropriate quantities of veges and protein, fruits and carbs.

Balancing Homeschool Nutrition with Multiple Children

Homeschooling multiple children, I have found, is much like feeding a toddler.  If I look at the microcosm of one morning, or even one day, it can feel extremely unbalanced.

One child or the other often gets the bulk of my energy and time, and I begin to worry:

It’s not fair!  It’s not even!  It’s unbalanced! I can’t do it all!

No.  I can’t do it all in one day.  I have 5 children, and they’re everywhere on the spectrum from preschool to precalculus.

But by being purposeful in my weekly goals, I am able to preserve a more “balanced diet” in our homeschool and gain a more realistic picture.

By remembering that homeschool balance occurs over the course of weeks or months, not hours and days, I am encouraged and revitalized.

The Mom Checklist: my tool for balancing our weekly homeschool diet

How do you keep track of the weekly balance?  What if you have a child who easily slips under the radar while the bigger personalities or larger learning struggles claim your time and attention?

We’re all familiar with the concept of creating a weekly plan or checklist for our homeschool students.  But what about a checklist for Mom?

It used to be fairly simple for me to keep a running mental tally of our weekly homeschool nutritional balance when I had fewer children or when there were fewer children actively homeschooling.

But I no longer rely on my poor brain cells to keep track of when I’ve met with whom!

The more children I have added to my homeschool, the more essential having a Mom Checklist has become.  On this checklist I have a space to mark off which child I’ve checked in with for which subject.

While any individual day may appear lopsided (because it is very rare to get to every child every day for every subject!), as I look at the big picture plan, I’m encouraged to maintain balance over the course of the week.

My Mom Checklist this year even includes a place to mark off “read a book” to my 3-year-old.  Yes.  No judgement.  I need this reminder.  (I include an example of my super simple mom checklist for this school year as part of my Big Picture Planning post at Humility and Doxology.)

While I won’t get to every child every day, I can use my Mom Checklist to quickly see at a glance how balanced/unbalanced weekly “nutrition” is in our homeschool.

The Greatest of These is Love

Mamas, homeschooling multiple children is a challenging job, but it’s also an exciting and rewarding one.  I would be remiss if I didn’t end by reminding you…reminding myself…that maintaining a loving relationship with these children should be our priority.

Just like it’s counterproductive to stress over your toddler’s obsession with bananas and miss out on sticky snuggles, it’s foolish to fixate on the minutia of short-term goals at the expense of long-term relationship.

Remember the big picture.  Remember balance is maintained over the long-haul, not in the moment.

Love on these precious children entrusted to our care.

And when we fall short – which we will – let us rest in the grace and perfection of Jesus.

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Amy Sloan

Amy blogs at Humility and Doxology, sharing her love of learning, books, and coffee. She and her husband are 2nd-generation homeschoolers to 5 fabulous kids ages 3 to 13. On any given day at their house you might hear someone reciting Shakespeare, someone dancing and singing to Hamilton, and someone crying (because life is hard sometimes), all while Mama sneaks in a podcast and another mug of coffee.
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