How to Homeschool Multiple Ages

This site contains affiliate links, view the disclosure for more information.

Yes, you can totally homeschool multiple ages! Our clear plan helps you manage all the moving parts of your homeschool day so you can homeschool your high schooler with a baby on your hip and a toddler at your feet…and everything in between!

Homeschooling each stage has its own rewards and challenges, but homeschooling multiple ages all together can seem tricky. Time and experience have led me to develop a simple plan that can help you coordinate the troops, no matter their rank!

homeschool multiple

The O&S Cycle

First, we break our homeschool up into three main stages. I call the three stages The Greenhouse, Roots & Shoots, and Staking Saplings. These 3 stages work to grow independent and confident learners who can then raise up their own little greenhouses and continue the cycle with the next generation! 

Next, we break our homeschool up into several main functional pieces. No matter where your kiddos are in the stages above, you can use our plan as a framework to help you break up your day into manageable parts that work for everyone. I call these functional pieces Morning Time, Circle Time, Sprout Pouch Time, Independent Work and Group Work. 

Let’s break it down and show how these pieces work in action!

Your Morning

Make sure you and your family have time in the Word, a nourishing breakfast, chores done, and are ready for the day before starting school. Get outside if possible. Let little ones play and burn off energy. Drink your water, enjoy morning light, pray, have coffee, do garden and farm chores, start some laundry, light a candle…whatever fills your morning with worship and lifts your eyes to Christ and your family before beginning schoolwork. Estimate the time you would like to accomplish these things. Decide what time you need to wake daily to make it happen! Aim to start your homeschool day at about the same time each day. Kids thrive on routine, and having a natural start time will get everybody starting off on the right foot. Our homeschool day always seems to want to start at about 9:00am. This may be different for your family, and that’s okay!

Ready to homeschool your multiple ages? Let’s Go!

greenhouse logo

The Greenhouse

If you have kids in the greenhouse, bless your sweet heart! The Greenhouse consists of kiddos from toddler ages through about 2nd grade and is SO. MUCH. FUN.  Also included here may be children with special needs or learning disabilities who will need a little more intentional hands-on time with you during your homeschool day. 

If you have a child in this age range, you will plan your homeschool day around them first.

*A Note about Babies- If you have a baby who is not yet ready to join the Greenhouse, you are going to press forward with your day according to what works best for your other kiddos. Babies can nap, watch, be worn, sit on your lap, play in a playpen, crawl around…you just have to learn to do it with a baby (just like everything else with a baby!) Rarely is it perfect and a baby’s schedule is always in flux. It’s going to be just fine. Enjoy that cute little baby remembering…Babies Don’t Keep!

The Greenhouse times can be some of the most rewarding and challenging of your homeschooling journey. Much intention and even physical exertion goes into homeschooling kiddos at this age, but the payoff is HUGE!

The Greenhouse always consists of Morning Time, Circle Time, and Sprout Pouch Time. Having these 3 anchors planned and in place will be key to filling them up and allowing older kids time for their independent work. 

Roots & Shoots

The Roots & Shoots crew are so precious and so exciting to teach and watch. At this stage (about grades 3-6), you have begun to see those love-of-learning sparks fly and are actively beginning to encourage more independent work. 

The 3 main functional parts of Roots & Shoots are Morning Time, Independent Work and Group Work.

Staking Saplings

At this stage (about 7th Grade and above), your child is ready to do most of their work independently with planning, checking in and record-keeping done by you. If you have children in both Roots & Shoots and Staking Saplings, you may choose to do some group work together. This will depend on their learning levels and what curricula you are choosing for them. 

In our homeschool, Staking Saplings joins the group for Morning Time and Group Time when feasible and continues with independent work curated by Mom for the rest of the day.

Let’s Dig Deeper and look at how the O&S Cycle works in action!

Morning Time

Whether you call it Morning Time, Gathering Time, Morning Basket, Symposium, or Group Work, this block is when you will accomplish your non-age-specific group tasks with all of your children. These include Doxology, Bible, Scripture Memory, Hymns, Games, Art, Crafts, Language, Missionary Biographies, Catechism…any topics that you would love for your children to learn together. You may choose to place Science/History here for your older kiddos if your lessons are short. If your oldest child is in the Greenhouse, you can greatly simplify this into something like Bible, Scripture Memory, Hymn and Poetry. Morning Time works best on a looping schedule. Read more about easily creating a looping schedule here  (It’s easy!).

If you have older kiddos, your Greenhouse kiddo may or may not catch on to what’s being taught, but you will be together. This can be on-the-lap time if they need a bit more mama, down by your feet if they’re a bit in-between or they can be at the table with the rest of the group for days they are feeling like one of the big kids. Pray and ask the Lord for direction each day!

I prefer to start my day with Morning Time, however, if your Greenhouse child struggles with this first, you may consider beginning with Circle Time. If this is also proving challenging for you, check out my posts on Filling Little Tanks. It may just be that your preschooler needs a little extra mama, and that’s okay! (It happens to all of us!)

Morning Time is an endless plethora of enjoyment and fun and will quickly become the mainstay of what makes your homeschool memorable and awesome! But DON’T get overwhelmed! We have PLENTY of Morning Time resources, plans, and ideas for morning time with multiple ages here!

Circle Time

Remember in preschool when everyone would sit on a carpet square and sing itsy-bitsy-spider? Well, in homeschool, circle time is WAY better! This is one-on-one (or one-on-two…or three…or 4….+++) time you will spend with your Greenhouse crew, filling tanks, reading, playing, and working on FUNdamentals together! For circle time (sunshine time…calendar time…whatever YOU want to call it!), you will focus on tasks that are geared toward the little ones. You can have a specified area of your schoolroom, or use a trifold board or whiteboard and sneak it away when you’re done! 

What about the older kids?

That’s what makes circle time so great! As little ones are getting filled up, bigger kids have time to begin their independent work. 

What if the older kids need help while I’m doing circle time with the little ones?

If something in their independent work requires mom’s help and attention, you can have the older ones either ask another sibling or flag the work for mom’s help when circle time is done and move to the next task (or, if it’s super quick, of course you can give them brief instruction). 

Circle Time is going to include things like picture books, flashcards, binder work, memory work, nursery rhymes, bible stories, calendar work and anything related. Just like Morning Time, Circle Time works best on a looping schedule and should be fun, sweet, and fairly short. Get started easily and geek out on all of my Circle Time resources here!

While older kids continue with independent work, little ones can take a wiggle break and have a healthy snack when Circle Time is over. This gives them shorter learning cycles, gets wiggles out, fills up little tummies and gives older kiddos a bit longer to work through as much morning independent work as they can.

Sprout Pouch Time

To cap off the fun, Greenhouse kiddos move on to Sprout Pouch time. After a wiggle break and snack, our family will meet back together at the table. Since little guys have full tanks, full tummies and are all wiggled out, this is a great time for them to do more focused, individual activities while mama reads History to the big kids!

SPROUT POUCHES are our answer to independent work for little sprouts! Designed for toddlers up through 2nd grade (and also kiddos with special needs), these little guys provide a complete homeschool experience for young ones and can keep little ones on task while you conquer Napoleon with older kiddos. 

Sprout Pouches will cover individual work like worksheets, scissor skills, fine motor and gross motor skills, letters & phonics, language arts, games and math. 

You decide how many pouches to fill, customize labels, and make this time exciting and individually crafted for your preschoolers and other young kiddos. Do as much or as little as you’d like each day, keep it fun and fresh, and let your tiny sprouts thrive with big-kid-like “school.” 

We’ve got you covered! Head over to our Sprout Pouch patch for premade stuffing schedules, fun downloadables, and recommended schoolroom resources for homeschooling your preschoolers.

Independent Work

While little ones are working on Circle Time and having a break, older kiddos can begin working on their independent work. Any questions for mom or challenging new material can be helped by another sibling or flagged for mom to help with during the Greenhouse kids’ wiggle and snack break. Independent work in our house includes Math and Language Arts. Depending on the assignments, independent work can vary from 1-3 hours per day. Kids do as much as possible before group work begins and are then free to finish up afterward. The length of their day is dictated by the amount of time independent work takes them. Because this varies widely day-to-day and child-to-child, morning time and group work time are done at specified times of the day while independent work weaves in around these anchors. 

If you have a high-schooler who is not doing group work, this will comprise the remainder of their day outside of helping with younger learners or taking a break to play with a fussy baby. 

Kids take a short break for snack and a longer break for lunch. Any work not completed by lunch can be completed afterward. We very rarely have an older child working beyond 2:00pm (and usually much earlier) outside of challenging high school assignments or exams.

Group Work

Group work may be History, Science, Foreign Language, or other work that is too much for Greenhouse Kids. You may only have one child at this level, but we call it “group work” because these subjects can be easy to group together across multiple grades. This happens most frequently between grades 3-8 in our homeschool, but wider ranges are possible depending on the subject and curriculum used.

Example Family #1

Wendy (6th), John (3rd), Michael (age 4)

All three children meet for Morning Time where they enjoy Doxology, Scripture reading and memory, a hymn, a Read-Aloud chapter, and a couple of items from the Looping Schedule.

Wendy and John begin their math lessons while Mama does Circle Time with Michael. They look at the calendar, learn the Letter D, do some finger play rhymes and fun songs. Wendy has a question about subtracting fractions, so she flags the section and moves on until Mama is ready to help her. Michael does some fun activities and then begins to get restless. Mama senses it would be a great time to move on so they tidy up circle time and Michael has a banana and runs out back to look for roly polys.

Mama has a glass of water and heats up her coffee before sidling up to Wendy and doing a few example questions with her. She briefly checks on Wendy and John’s progress, grabs a handful of pecans and heads out back to inspect Michael’s discoveries and watch his new scooter skills. 

Next, everyone meets back at the table and Michael retrieves his pouches. Today he gets to make some Dinosaur patterns, practice his letter D’s, roll some dice and work on some lacing cards. Mama gets out her Oceanography curriculum and Wendy and John are amazed to learn about Matthew Fontaine Maury and his work on ocean currents by studying Scripture. Michael listens in while he does his important work and circles the best D he made. His siblings praise his great work and he zips up his pouch and moves his number over. After 4 pouches, he asks Mama if he can go play cars. She asks him to please show him one more special pattern, put his pouches away, do his classroom job and then go play away! The big kids finish their Oceanography page, put their Science binder away, and continue with their independent Language Arts. 

John finishes his work shortly afterward, shows Mama, does his classroom job and puts his things away for the day. 

At 12:00, Mama asks Wendy to please put her things away, do her job and take a break while Mama gets lunch together. They enjoy lunch together and all of the kids head outside to climb the oak tree. Afterward, John and Michael come inside to build a Lego pirate ship while Wendy finishes her writing assignment and her jobs to complete her school day. At 1:30, all three kiddos head to their favorite quiet time spot for quiet reading and Michael’s rest time. Mama stuffs Michael’s pouches for the next day and scans her lesson planner to familiarize herself with tomorrow’s plan. 

Example Family #2

Peter (9th), Susan (6th), Edmund (4th), Lucy (1st)

All kids meet for Morning Time (except on Tuesday and Thursday when Peter does his online Math lesson). They read the Bible, memorize a Catechism question and answer, read an etiquette lesson and do some of their Looping Schedule.

Peter helps Susan with her writing assignment and they all begin their independent work. Mom does a phonics lesson with Lucy who is reading well. She has been interested in horses lately, so she and Mom snuggle up together and read a book about Palominos. They do a character lesson, sing some songs and do a puzzle together. Lucy finishes all Mom has planned for the day and decides she would like to visit the chickens. 

Mom checks on Peter to see how much he has on his school schedule for the day and reminds him of the tasks she needs him to complete around the house before baseball practice later in the day. Susan and Edmund are whizzing through their independent work so Mom checks for accuracy before heading out to water the garden with Lucy.

Mom and Lucy come back in and Lucy begins work on her Sprout Pouches which includes a math worksheet, do-a-dot coloring page, geoboard puzzle and a cut-and-paste activity. She also gets to make a collage using her finds from their latest nature hike. Mom opens her lesson planner and leads Susan and Edmund through a lesson on the Council of Nicea, which Lucy remembers hearing about from her Memory Work. She listens in while Susan and Edmund narrate the reading and they all discuss the divinity of Christ and the error of Arianism.

Once their History lesson is complete, they all put their things away, do their classroom jobs, and run to the yard where they’ve created a secret hideout. Mom checks everyone’s work, stuffs Lucy’s pouches for the next day, and grabs Peter for a quick game of catch.

No matter where you are, the O&S Cycle can work for you! While everyday is different and things don’t always execute perfectly, homeschooling is about being together and supporting your children as they grow into lifelong learners. You get the reward of being their biggest cheerleader!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Amy Barnes

Wife and Mom-of-6 who loves Jesus and is passionate about sharing true and wholesome resources with the homeschooling community

The Fam


Join the Grove!

spring picture book

10 Enchanting Picture Books for Spring Read-Alouds

Sprout Pouch Stuffers Preschool Worksheets Month 1

Sprout Pouch Stuffers – Preschool Worksheets – Month One

Monarch Life Cycle Study collage

Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle Unit Study

get boys to read

Getting Boys to Read

homeschool multiple

How to Homeschool Multiple Ages

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top