I recently shared with you a few ideas about how you can have your older children learn together. It certainly isn’t as easy to do with older kids as it is when they’re younger, but it’s worth the effort to bring them together when you can!
One way to keep your kids learning together is to find an activity in which they can both participate even though they each might have a different learning goal. Cooking is a fun activity for kids of all ages—and a useful skill, too! Enjoy some time in the kitchen together and have one child work on reading ingredients or learning different recipe abbreviations while the other one doubles the recipe and works on adding fractions. If you’re lucky, you might even end up with dinner fixed, too! Nature walks would be a simple way to cover different topics. You could bring in poetry, art, and science all in one afternoon.
One of my favorite ways to bring my kids together is to travel. We frequently take small road trips around our state to learn about famous people and places and history and then add pictures and narrations to my son’s notebook. They’re learning all about Oklahoma together, not as a semester course with a textbook in school, but by seeing and doing and experiencing it for themselves. There is no substitute for experience, so if you can manage it, I encourage you to travel, even if you’re just taking short field trips around your town.
You can plan for all the different ways you want your children to learn together, which is wonderful, but sometimes they’re going to find a way on their own! When my son was learning about Benjamin Franklin we read about his father’s soap making business and decided to make some soap ourselves. My daughter was learning about farms at the time, but of course she wanted to make soap, too! I was just letting her tag along for fun, but as we had to choose what colors to make the soap, her brother ended up giving her an impromptu lesson in color mixing. She had a good time and learned something new in the process!
You can work and work at it, but if there is a large gap in your children’s ages you probably aren’t going to be able to have them learning together all the time, and that’s okay! Sometimes it’s nice to have some one on one time with your children. Even though a book or activity may be specific to one child’s studies, let the other children listen and participate if they want. My son enjoys hearing the same books he loved when he was small when I’m reading them to his sister and my daughter has learned so much from listening in on her brother’s lessons. The older one has lessons reinforced and the younger one builds background knowledge that will be helpful when she’s studying the same topic in the future.
Everyone wins when you learn together!