Homeschooling and Younger Siblings

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My criteria when selecting our homeschool classes this fall included making sure that there would be plenty of fun things for my two little guys to do while my oldest participated in her own programs.  I wanted to avoid a scenario of dropping-off my daughter at her class and waiting around in the lobby of some building with two squirmy siblings, so when I discovered some wonderful homeschool programs sponsored by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, it was a win-win for all of us.

My older daughter enjoys two hours of weekly nature exploration and related projects with two instructors and a small class of eight homeschooled children roughly her age, including some of her good friends, while the little ones and I--along with some of my homeschool-mom friends--spend those two hours exploring the same woods and enjoying our connection with nature.  This particular wildlife sanctuary, not too far from the city, is a place we visit as a family often and so it is especially nice to see weekly, seasonal changes in this space throughout autumn.

Juggling the dynamic needs and interests of young children while making sure that our time together is fully maximized can take some doing. Urban homeschoolers are particularly fortunate to have many class options and resources available to make this balancing act a bit easier.  Homeschool classes at local museums, for example, can offer drop-off opportunities for older siblings while the other children explore the exhibits.  Classes near vibrant urban centers provide time to explore local libraries, bookstores, universities, open spaces, and historic and cultural resources.  Outdoor and nature exploration classes enable time in nature to be shared while meeting the needs of each sibling.  With some research and planning, there can be many ways to craft optimal learning experiences for younger siblings while the older ones spread their wings.

For those of you homeschooling with children of different ages and interests, how do you manage your time with your other children while a sibling is off at a class?


  1. I have been a victims of these scenarios for a long time where a kid is at his or class and I have to wait with other siblings. It seems that you have found a wonderful solution to this problem. It has saved me a lot of trouble as well.
    kids birthday party Boca Raton

  2. Love M's headband! Did you make it?

    1. Thanks, yes! VERY easy. Here's the pattern/post:

  3. In rural Maine we're not quite so fortunate--travel to museums and wildlife sanctuaries can take one or two hours, or more, depending on where you are going. Our family does a lot of activity based projects, nature study, and citizen science that allows us all to participate together at the same time. Thanks for such a thoughtful post Kerry!

  4. Hi Kerry, We have similar nature classes in Philly. They have been fantastic for everyone. Both Pennypack and Wissahickon Environmental Ctr have two classes running simultaneously for homeschoolers. (One for older students; one for younger students.) As a chaperone, I learn a lot myself. They classes have been a wonderful enrichment to our homeschooling. This week we will be learning what plants the Lenape Native Americans used for medicine and what objects they used as tools as we walk through the forest. Fantastic!

  5. We've been in the same boat here - many times. Last year I decided that the activities we sign up for have to work for all 3 of us (then 7 yrs, 3 yrs & ME -- I count too!). The homeschool classes at Habitat worked beautifully for us as well. Sky got a chance to have some time with other wonderful teaching adults & some time away from his little brother, I got some one on one time w/ Gryffin & we all had some time in the woods. This year, BOTH boys have activities - & for the first time Sky has to wait around for his brother's class to end :).