How Far Can I Stretch?

My homeschool class this year spans kinder through 4th grade. I have chewed and chewed how I can successfully teach this span. Back in the day, when I taught my own kids in a span easily as great, the art of juggling made this work. Picture someone juggling. One hand is always catching one ball/baton/scarf/knife and passing it across while the other hand mirrors the action with another, and sometimes you throw one ball high enough several can pass it by before it enters circulation again. This is how homeschooling a wide age range feels. Some parts of the lesson or the curriculum all the kids pass through, and you pull them in engaging them all, and some parts you take further with older students, and sometimes you just send somebody off by themselves for something until you can pull them back in with the rest. But they are always moving, always circulating.

I first considered a variation of this for my homeschool art class. We could all start together at a level the kinders and first grades could follow, then release the younger students and continue a longer class for the older students, building on what we had done in the first segment. For instance, basic information on Australia followed by a pastel hand stencil. Then more information for older students, adding planning time for a story element and their countour line drawing of an Australian animal.

However, the younger segment of the class kept growing. I finally decided that if the moms could agree to stay longer, I would divide the class, and give the youngers a half-hour class of their own, while maintaining an hour of art for the olders. They need a little more focused instruction, and I knew that I would be cheating them AND their older counterparts. Juggling levels is an art best left to smaller groups of 5 or 6 or even 7, I believe. I think it will be a better class for the change.

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