Do you want to handle multiple subjects with more than one child at a time while creating more learning opportunities? Go multiple– age a multiple– disciplinary – home education of several age groups and several subjects together.
Look for opportunities to combine different subjects to meet the needs of your different children at the same time!
How to combine items
Combining subjects is called multidisciplinary learning, or you may have heard it as ‘interdisciplinary’ or ‘interdisciplinary’. Homeschoolers often find that children learn in one subject while parents focus on learning in another subject.
For example, a child learning about wildlife can develop reading skills by reading books about snakes and turtles. That’s language art + science.
A child who draws birds on his nature walks is doing art + science.
You can start combining items on purpose. You may find opportunities to combine keyboard skills with language arts, coding skills with robotics, art with social sciences, music with history or literature, and more.
Example: Combine science and social studies
Here’s a little-known miracle of homeschooling: kids can learn social studies over science – and children can learn science over sociology!
How does this miracle happen?
One way can be cognition inventors and inventions– the perfect theme for experimenting with multi-disciplinary and multi-age learning.
Check out the top links we’ve collected about inventors and inventions. There are ready-made resources to help you teach your children both history and science through inventions.
Learning about older inventions and their creators gives children and teenagers an idea of what life was like before electricity, telephones, airplanes and satellites – and provides an opportunity to imagine the ‘old days’ and how life has changed over time.
This is social studies!
After all, these inventions affect everything from how wars are fought, to how people travel, to how we communicate with people in the next town or state.
At the same time, a growing understanding of technological, engineering, and medical advances (to name a few) can introduce young students to the workings of computer chips, suspension bridges, and life-saving drugs and surgical techniques.
Cutting-edge inventions are often firmly planted current events— next aspect of teaching social studies.
Kids can also enjoy DIY and trying to create their own inventions. Thinking about how they could create something useful themselves draws children into their own personal experience with the scientific method.
This is waaaaaay more exciting and memorable than just writing out the steps of the scientific method on a poster.
How to combine ages
Many of us have a picture of school in our minds, when each of our children is in a separate year and needs to have individual lessons at a specific level.
That can be a lot of lessons to prepare and present if you are using a separate grade level curriculum for each child.
With homeschooling, you can meet the needs of more than one child through yours resource selection and through your flexible expectations.
For example, many homeschoolers already enjoy reading aloud with their families. You can Choose books on your topic that both a 7 year old and a 10 year old will enjoy and learn from. Historical fiction is often a great place to start if you’re combining history and science. Each child will naturally retain information from books according to their abilities.
Each child can do activities that reflect or reinforce understanding (there’s another subject!) and help them remember science and history content. You can adjust your expectations depending on the age and abilities of the children. Your younger child can draw a picture of a favorite scene from the book with a word or two written next to the drawing. Your older child can write a paragraph, answer written questions, or create a game to help everyone remember facts about the topic.
Some activities can work for different age groups in exactly the same way – just as all children, regardless of their age, can experience an evening without the use of electric lights or appliances to consider what life was like before Edison’s inventions. Children will each have their own vocabulary and ability to express what “no electricity” means – and they will naturally do so at their own level.
With a larger family, you may have more than two children depending on the theme of the group – perhaps working with the three oldest together or the three youngest together. That’s still fewer lessons to prepare than if you tried to use a grade-level curriculum for each child!
Inspiration for combining ages and subjects
When using the curriculum, you can combine subjects and siblings by selecting part submit one child’s curriculum to all children. You can edit a lesson or topic “up” or “down” with specific resources and assignments. It happened naturally in my house (that’s how I learned it) when the younger child started listening to my older child’s lessons about ancient civilizations, especially Egypt.
Once you get used to the idea, you may even be able to moderate your curriculum purchases by choosing one level that is age- or grade-level in-between some of your children’s ages, at least for certain subjects.
And if you like the multi-subject/multi-kid idea, you can get further inspiration by learning how people learn at home:
All of these approaches to home education have characteristics that facilitate the path to learning skills or knowledge across multiple subjects. They also make it easy to “spread” learning across multiple age groups in your household.
Advantages of combining ages and subjects
Multidisciplinary, multi-age learning has benefits for both children and parents:
- Children make connections across disciplines, so they consolidate and synthesize knowledge.
- Siblings learn from each other.
- Children learn at their unique level of readiness.
- Children do not have to be considered “behind” or “ahead” in order to learn.
- Parents cover two or more subjects – or more children – with one preparation. Saves time, energy and maybe even money on study!
- Parents learn to develop cross-curricular thinking and learning – unit studies!
- Parents can also enjoy the interesting rabbit trails of knowledge.
- Parents may be better able to detect a child or adolescent’s special interest.
- Learning preferences of children and adolescents can be revealed.
- Do you like hands-on projects or not?
- Does he prefer documents or reading?
- Do you like audiobooks or do you prefer to read aloud?
- Is STEAM preferred over STEM – adding the arts to science, technology, engineering and math?
Schools often run into problems using these approaches to learning in an era of subject- and grade-specific testing. This means that these are proven educational methods that often increase the effectiveness of the lesson while managing the amount of preparation time for the educator.
Win for students; win for parents!