Top 5 Large Family Homeschool Hacks

Homeschooling is not a job for wimps. It requires a certain willingness to think outside the box and adapt to new circumstances. Homeschooling a large family just ups the ante.

Are you looking for some tricks and strategies to help you homeschool your large family? Or are you hoping to learn from a large-family approach and maximize your family’s homeschool? Here are five of my best tips.

{This post was sponsored by Teaching Textbooks. It is the program we use in our
homeschool and all opinions expressed are my own.}

Join Forces

One of the best ways to maximize learning is to plan for group-learning as much as possible. In a traditional classroom, third graders have to learn third grade stuff. Fifth graders have to learn fifth grade stuff. But we homeschoolers know that those boxes and boundaries don’t have to hold us back when we gather around the kitchen table.

Kids of all ages can explore topics from ancient Babylon to Newtons Laws of Motion, from Arctic Tundra Geography to List Poetry.

Resource Recommendation: We’ve been using the Layers of Learning curriculum for several years now and loving it. It’s designed to be used by everyone K-12. Each year includes twenty idea-packed units which each cover a topic in History, Geography, Science, and The Arts.

Hands-On and Real-Life Learning

If you’re going to include multiple ages in a learning activity, one of the best ways to do that is with hands-on and real-life experiences. It’s amazing what younger kids can understand and how older kids can solidify their comprehension when you use hands-on activities.

Young children can even comprehend algebra concepts or fraction sense when they have a chance to touch and manipulate physical objects and experience the relationships through their visual and tactile senses.

Resources Recommendation: Cindy West fro Our Journey Westward has a great collection of NaturExplorer unit studies that extend learning to multiple subjects under the umbrella of a nature-study-themed focus. Also, check out Loving Living Math, a handbook for incorporating experiential math alongside of your traditional program.

Dr. Borensen’s manipulative-based activities for algebra and fractions are excellent. My littles were able to learn right alongside my older kids and the older kids were well-prepared for their traditional math work.

Outsource for Survival

For some subjects or students, it may not be possible or ideal to plan for whole-group learning. In those cases, the large-family homeschool mom’s best companion is a curriculum that automates as much of the learning and grading as possible.

There are lots of ways to “outsource” learning and instruction, such as hiring tutors or participating in a co-op. But there’s only one way to bring in help without leaving home, and that’s an online course. We prefer online programs that both teach the material and grade the work so that mom’s time is free to spend on other subjects.

Resource Recommendation: All of our students in grades three and above are enrolled in an age/ability-level appropriate course with Teaching Textbooks. Clear, simple audio-visual lessons teach concepts, and interactive practice and exercises measure comprehension.

Lessons and tests are graded automatically, but the parent dashboard provides complete grade book control for deleting lessons or problems for another try. Plus, Teaching Textbooks offers one of the best values I’ve seen: the Large Family plan which provides courses for up to eight students in the same household for one low price.

Reduce Decision Fatigue

During the homeschool year, the days are busy (and some are long!) and time to rest and refresh can be hard to come by. It’s often hard to find the brainpower to make big decisions or do planning that requires a lot of critical thinking and choices.

That’s why one of the best things you can do ahead of time is to automate as many of the plans and system in your school year so that they can virtually run on autopilot during the year. You don’t need to fill out a calendar with lessons for every day, because after even just a week, the plans will need to be adjusted.

Instead, spend time in the summer choosing what you’ll study, what resources you’ll use, and what your general plan will be for working through that material. Make lists of topics you’ll cover or books you’ll read. Then, during the school year as you create more detailed plans for each day, week, or month, all you’ll have to do is to pull the next thing off of each of your lists.

Resource Recommendation: Pam Barnhill’s Plan Your Year workbook will take you through each of the steps one at a time to  craft the framework for your homeschool and regularize the routines that will keep your year moving, even on *those* days.

Or, if you prefer a more interactive approach, opt for Pam’s online course "Plan Your Year". With ten video-modules and a course forum, you’ll be able to work through the material at your own pace with help and support from other moms just like you.

Teach Independent Learning

Yes, teaching our children how to learn independently is an important large-family homeschool “hack” but truthfully, it’s a goal we all should have for our students. There’s no way that we can teach them everything they’ll need to know for their adult lives in the space of eighteen or so years. That’s why it’s crucial they leave our homes knowing how to teach themselves whatever they need to know.

Since my oldest is dyslexia, an important part of equipping him for learning independence has been discovering and providing assistive technology so that we can remove obstacles to understanding and growth.

Training independent learners involves providing them with resources appropriate to their level, teaching them how to make use of those resources in self-teaching, remaining available for guidance and help as needed, and staying in touch with their progress so that you can provide accountability.

Resource Recommendation: Teaching Textbooks has provided us the perfect combination of independence and oversight. I’ve taught my kids how to utilize the lessons, practice problems, hints, and problem explanations to do as much learning independently as they can.

They know they need to make use of these resources on their own before they come to me for help. Most days, I don’t need to spend any time on math instruction. Plus, they are motivated to find answers to their own questions rather than wait for me to be available to help them before they can move on.

Teaching Textbooks has been a great resource for my dyslexic son since the lessons, problems, and even answer choices are all read aloud. This allows him to focus his energy on the math concepts. He has just completed Algebra I as an eighth grader.

The parent dashboard allows me to see in real time how many problems they’ve completed, how many attempts they made, and whether they took the time to listen to the explanation for the problems they missed. When they have questions, I’m able to review the lesson with them to help me remember how to demonstrate the concepts they are encountering.

If you think Teaching Textbooks might be a good fit for you, you can try out all of the features I’ve mentioned above with a free trial.

The best way to prepare to homeschool a large family - or any size family - is to understand the specific needs, gifts, and characteristics of your unique family and the individual members who make it up (including you, mom)! Use these tips, as well as others that you discover along the way, to customize your homeschool accordingly!


Lynna Sutherland is a homeschool mother of eight always-homeschooled kiddos ranging in age from high school to kindergarten. She loves to encourage parents in the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling and offer creative ways to manage a large family and a multi-age homeschool!

  • This is SO helpful! I only have three kids, but I still feel a little overwhelmed that they outnumber me 3 to 1! 😉 Thanks so much for sharing this.

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