The Homeschool Minute

October 2, 2013
                          Brought to you from the makers of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine


                               Help! I am teaching more than one grade level!                                            

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Gena Suarez

Read these articles for helpful advice on multi-level teaching:

Now some encouragement for those days when you think you've blown it . . .


Hey Mama,   


You got through Monday. You did it. And I know there were moments you suffered from "mad cow mama" syndrome, but what's done is done. Good thing your Father is patient, and your kids so forgiving. They love you.

I think it's good they see the crud sometimes. They are experiencing real life. You're not pretending to be something you're not, or marching to some smoke-and-mirrors parade, all smiles, all the time. Who can hold up that kind of farce, and who'd even want to? Yeah, the real Mama is not phony. She's flesh and blood, and her kids are too, and someday they are going to remember that their mama made mistakes sometimes, just like *they* will as adults. She didn't feign success all the time; she did the best she could and strove for her Father's will. But she was never perfect. Those kids need to rest in that. That is a safety net for them later!

Your kids see the tears. They see a defeated spirit sometimes. Good, because at some point they too will face daily frustrations and life's trials, and they'll need to cry it all out as well. They need to be reminded that we
are ALL in need of a Savior (we don't just preach it--we live it), that no one is perfect, not even Mama. And some days, ESPECIALLY not Mama.
Be real, beautiful Daughter of the King of kings. Tomorrow, work hard to be a gentle doe. But if the mad cow raises her ugly head, just lift your eyes to the One who made you. The One who made your children and then gave them to you to care for during this time, for His perfect reasons. Soften your heart because of His mercies and compassion towards you (and your children!).

After all, He is the perfect One. You are His child. And you are human, just like your kids are. Start again; His mercies are new every morning, and He smiles on you, obedient Mama. He will light your path again, and again, and always.


~ gena

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The Familyman 

Since I know zippo about teaching more than one grade level, I decided to have my wife do a guest spot. Here's what she has to say . . .


Well, I'm not a writer by any means, and I'm not at all funny like my husband, BUT I do teach a lot of grades at once so Todd passed you off to me for this topic. It helps me to admit to myself right up front that I can NOT teach every single one of them, every single thing they need to know before they graduate. I just can't. There are too many variables called "real life" involved, and I know there will be holes in their education. Some are more deficient in history than others, some are more deficient in science, some in grammar, and some in math. When you factor in each of their natural bents, natural strengths and struggles and my natural bents, etc., it just equals inconsistencies and different emphases over the years. I do the best I can each given year, and I truly believe that if I teach them to enjoy learning and how to learn on their own they will be fine!! (I have 2 graduated so far and they have proven this.)


Obviously, it helps to do as many subjects as I can with as many of them as I can (Bible, history, reading aloud, science, etc.) at once, but even that sounds better than it often is in reality. For instance, this year I have been wondering when I'm reading something at a good level for one of my older kids if I'm losing the interest of my younger ones at the same time or, vice versa. I've been wondering if I'm doing a certain subject at too young of an age for an older one who could handle something more challenging. At the end of the day, though, my truest measure is NOT whether I crossed off the curriculum, but whether we laughed, loved, and learned (anything) together.


Be Real,

Debbie and Todd



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Relational Homeschooling    
Diana Waring

Dear Friends,


Have you ever faced an obstacle in your life that turned out to be an unexpected blessing? Whether illness, loss of job, moving, or whatever trouble it might be, I have seen that, right in the midst of the circumstance, God provides grace . . . that leads to new beginnings, new insights, and new opportunities. I am sure that YOU have your own stories about this, as well.


And today's topic is a perfect example of this. I remember so clearly the first day of homeschooling. My oldest was six, his brother was four, and my baby was two. Learning the skills of getting laundry OFF the table and getting dinner ON the table, while teaching basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic--with a toddler and an energetic preschooler--was as profoundly challenging as any highly skilled professional would ever face! (If they would disagree with that statement, many of us would be delighted to offer the opportunity to try our job for a few months.)


The thought of how I would ever figure out how to teach all three what they needed at the same time made me wonder how teachers in one-room schoolhouses ever pulled it off. In fact, when I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's stories, I discovered that these teachers were actually teaching a wide variety of subjects to a widely differing age range.


And that made me curious. What did they know that I didn't know about teaching to different ages and grades? This question began, for us, a series of trial and error experiments to find what would work in our home with our children in their stages of life.


Here are a few of our discoveries:

  • Reading books out-loud can appeal to a wide variety of ages.
  • Science, history, Bible study, art and literature each work well studied together as a family (through middle school, at least).
  • Language arts and math are far more sequential, and, thus, are more appropriate studied individually.
  • Dinner-time discussions of what our children were learning about together provided some of the most amazing learning times of all.
  • Rather than an artificially grade-segregated learning, our elementary school daughter learned about high school level government, and our struggling-to-read fifth grader had the freedom to learn deeply as we read books out-loud--each was able to move to the level of learning appropriate to them, regardless of their age or "grade".
  • Subjects that were studied as a group provided great opportunities for individual and cooperative presentations--we called them "Family Presentation Night," and each student shared in a creative way what they found most interesting.

Every family has its own unique blend of ages, interests, giftings, and circumstances, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, if you see the challenge of teaching more than one grade as an opportunity to experience something new--and, quite possibly, FUN--you may discover that it has brought the best aspects of homeschooling right into your own home!


Remember, stay relational!




P.S. Calling all families using my History Revealed curriculum: We have just launched a brand-new, exclusive online community to serve and support YOU!! Come take a look at what's in store for you, including phase by phase, unit by unit video introductions for each of the three books, forums, teleseminars, mom-to-mom chats, and more at

A division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Corner
Teaching multiple grade levels with is as simple as Point. Click. Teach. Here are just a few of the more than 60 classes you can choose from. Every class-for every child--is included with your membership.


Little Girl Toddlers and Preschool classes from The Homegrown Preschooler team and Beth Gorden with Sensory Learning for Toddlers


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Middle School classes such as Pre-Algebra with Charlene Johnson and Science experiments with Jason Lindsey


High School classes as diverse as Filmmaking with director George Escobar, Media Socialization with Dr. Lisa Dunne, and Social Justice with Kurt Hoffman


Plus we have a number of classes that are well-suited for multiple grade levels, including Geography with Tyler and Maggie Hogan, French with Greg Shone, and Literature with Adam Andrews.


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Need some advice and ideas on how to teach your struggling reader?
Spotlight on 5

Take a look at Spotlight on Five!



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Your family needs a happy and healthy you more than they
need a frugal gourmet meal.
TOS Article
in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.


Creation Revolution

"Jong Bhak, a geneticist from the Personal Genomics Institute of South Korea, led a team of researchers in unlocking the genome of tigers, snow leopards and lions. One of the surprising results they found is that the big cats share 95.6% of their DNA with your small lovable pet cat."   

Contest Corner 

For the month of October, 2013   


The Verbal Math Lesson, Levels 1 and 2 


The Verbal Math Lesson is one of those books I wish I'd had earlier in the homeschooling process. As its name implies, it is a verbal program. Level One is addressed to ages 4-7, and Level Two is addressed to ages 7-8. In Level One the first lesson is titled "Working with Nothing" (the concept of zero). The last lesson (31 in all) is "Subtracting double-digit numbers ending in 0". The range between is implied and is pretty thorough. In Level Two, instruction begins with "Operations with numbers ending in 0" and wraps up with "Multiplication and division by 9." Level Two also does a good job of covering--in 29 lessons--the material between, including addition and subtraction of double-digit numbers. The website indicates that Level 1 can be used with elementary students and Level 2 with Middle School students. It seems that the material is therefore less targeted to grade-level or age than to skill sets.


The authors rightly state in their introduction, "Verbal math, also called mental math, is a practical and time-honored method of solving mathematical problems. Math done with worksheets often slows children down. Shortcuts and computational tricks learned by doing math mentally allow children to bypass much of the tediousness they experience with written math." (. . .)


(To read the rest of the review, click HERE.)


TO ENTER: Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Verbal Math" for a chance to win* the book for your homeschool!


In this week's issue:

Writing Tales

Creation Illustrated

Creation Illustration on Facebook

Little Passenger Seats  Facebook page

Take a look at what's new for Fall 2013 at



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