One of the most common questions any homeschooling mom of more than one kid gets is, “How do you juggle it all? What do you do with the other kids while you are working with one child?”
And honestly, this is something I still struggle with. Despite my carefully laid out plans, schedules, charts, routines, etc., we still have everyone needing mom at once. And, when I stop to help the girls, the boys take the opportunity to disappear out back, or get knee deep in Legos. So we spend another 15 minutes getting back on task, by which time another girl needs me.
My ideal plan is to have the girls work independently from 9 to 11 while I work with the boys with academics and therapies. (The ideal taunts me every day. Stupid ideal.) Practically, that means I need the girls to have about 2 hours of work in which they do not need me at all. (Insert laughter here.) Okay, minimal needing. Of course, we also have to juggle use of the TV and computer for a variety of subjects, and make sure 15 minute breaks don’t turn into 30 minutes. I do so love my timers. (Yes, plural.)
One of the things that has helped immensely not only with the scheduling issue, but with the subject matter itself is Spelling City, a (free!) spelling and vocabulary website.
We had previously used Spelling Power, which is a decent program for teaching spelling, but not one that the girls loved or even liked. Now I use the lists from Spelling Power in conjunction with Spelling City, and the results have been fantastic.
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The (did I mention free?) website has games, teaching aides, and tests administered in a real human voice. My girls love the independence of it. They can fit it into their school day when it best suites them, and they don’t have to wait for me to be available to administer the test. The variety of games and other learning aides keeps it interesting.
While the website is free, you can get a premium membership. The cost is $24.95 per year for families for up to 5 students. (They also have pricing for teachers and schools.) Premium membership allows each student to login and tracks the grades and assignment progress for that kid. All I have to do is enter the list, schedule a due date, and check the assignment book for their progress. And all of this can be done outside our normal school day.
In addition to better tools for me, the premium membership offers more than just tools for me. There are additional spelling games and a host of vocabulary resources not available on the free site.
For Little Miss, who likes things much more structured, I assign a set of games and spelling aides and then the test. For Sprite, who is very much a free spirit, I just assign the test. Sometimes she takes the test right away and sometimes she’ll do games first, depending on the difficulty of the list. We test to 100% and they retest the words they miss until they spell them correctly.
Spelling City has been a time and sanity saver. Even if you have a program that’s working for you, it’s a great supplemental tool.