If you’re homeschooling multiple grade levels with multiple ages, most days can feel like a circus with Mom struggling to keep all the plates balanced and spinning. As a mother of 4 children ranging presently from Kindergarten to Dual Enrollment, I hear your exhausted sighs and cries for help!

I clearly remember the day all my plates came crashing down. At that time, my children were a rambunctious, full-speed ahead, no volume control toddler. An elementary aged child who was struggling to read, which made independent work almost impossible. A middle schooler who would rather be taking things apart and modifying them than put a nose in a book. A high schooler who loved books, loved to read, loved learning but did not handle noise well.

I struggled between keeping the youngest, non-napper entertained, while standing over my elementary student reading the instructions to the work sheet yet again and praying it would click, while shooing the middle schooler back to the books and somewhere in between, the oldest was hiding, looking for an illusive quiet spot.

Yes, that circus was my reality!

My efforts always met with the same results. The youngest got into some sort of loud mischief, my elementary child was visibility upset and “done” with the school day even though the work was not. My middle schooler completed his work with blazing speed, leaving parts missing here and there. And, my oldest had stuffed large wads of cotton, paper and whatever else might be sound proof into his ears for a bit of quiet. Most days he was the only one to finish all his assignments and do so correctly.

And I… I was exhausted!

Then I discovered something that changed our homeschool lives forever! Something SO easy and did not require a 12 step program.

I began setting up our next day’s work the night before! I set out everything I though I’d need on a table, organized into piles for each child. Then, as the day wore on, I put those completed books and worksheets back where they belong. Doing away with individual schedule books, I also wrote everyone’s work in a family scheduler the night before.

When I started to do this, my usual bleary-eyed, bedraggled self greeted the day with hope and a firm action plan in place as I put the plates upon their spinners.

Some other things that also helped me school multiples:

  • Beginning the homeschool day with the youngest first. One-half hour of one-on-one time with the baby goes a long way in maintaining peace and sanity!
  • Having each older child spend 1/2 hour intervals entertaining the youngers so Mom can spend one-on-one time with each older child.
  • Having older children or Dad help with grading papers. Also consider having an end of school day “conference” to address problems that crop up during grading.

These aren’t guaranteed to solve all your problems, but, will help you maintain more control over keeping those plates spinning instead of falling.