In order to simplify our homeschool, we have certain subjects that we teach Family Style. See which subjects and how we utilize family style teaching!
Because I am homeschooling so many different grade levels, I have tried to simplify our homeschool in as many ways as possible. We currently have grades 7, 5, 4, 2, Kindergarten, and Preschool and I don’t want to be spending all day, every day being a teacher! In order to simplify our homeschool routine, we have chosen to do many of our subjects “Family Style”.
What is Family Style Teaching?
Family Style teaching is where you choose a subject that a group can learn all together, often using different activities to provide an age appropriate experience. Instead of teaching the same lesson to 6 different people, six different times, I can teach the lesson to the group as a whole and offer additional extension activities when needed to provide deeper learning for the more advanced grades. We have chosen to teach family style for our History and Science courses!
For our History, we have chosen to use The Good and the Beautiful History. What I love about this curriculum is that it focuses on how God has played a part in history. It is non-denominational, but most definitely Christian-based. This curriculum is written to be used family style with packets that you can print out for the different grade levels to do extension activities. These activities will include mostly coloring or handwriting pages for the younger grades, and research ideas for the older grades. The lessons are taught out of the lesson book, and a full-color story book with maps and illustrations that you can refer to throughout the lesson. We cover history twice a week and are able to get through all 60 lessons in one school year.
My kids love the audio-book dramatizations that go along with this curriculum. You follow Kate and Jack on their journey through discovering key points in history as they visit their grandparents over the summer. There is also a read aloud book that goes along with each unit (4 units total for each history course). A different game is included with each course as well to help retain the information learned in a fun and interactive way!
The thing I love the most about this history curriculum is how easy it is to use. It has an open-and-go approach, which means you have absolutely zero preparation with each lesson. I literally sit down with the book, open it to where we left off, and start reading. Occasionally there will be a little part that you will cut out to play a game, or make the lesson more interactive, but all supplies listed for the lesson are clearly printed on the first page of the lesson, so you know exactly what to prepare if you choose to do those extra activities.
For Science, we have chosen to use The Good and the Beautiful Science. This curriculum is also written with a non-denominational Christian view. It is written to be used family style with additional research ideas for the older kids to dive more in depth. There are suggestions for picture book read alouds to further engage your children as well. And, don’t underestimate the power of a well-written and well-illustrated picture book in the hands of older children. They are oftentimes more engaging than the textbook style teaching that can be found in large science books!
The curriculum comes out as a full color packet that you assemble. This is the most preparation that I have had to do with any of The Good and the Beautiful curriculum. It usually takes around an hour to cut out all the vocabulary words, assemble all the little books, and put the curriculum material in sheet protectors. Each level also comes with a list at the beginning of all the supplies needed throughout the course. I will usually purchase all of the supplies at once and set them aside to use when needed. Once the curriculum is assembled into a binder, I can literally open to the page and start reading!
We have found one other perfect time to incorporate family style teaching into our routine: bedtime! We try our hardest to do a read aloud every night at bedtime. I feel like this is the perfect way to wind down our day. The littles fall asleep while I read, and the big kids have their minds occupied while they settle in for the night, and it gives them something to think about if they are having a hard time falling asleep. By the end of the day I am pretty worn out so if I have strategically left off on a cliffhanger the night before, the kids are extra motivated to get ready for bed quickly so they can hear the story. Win, win!
We try to read books that will help pre-arm the kids for situations that they will encounter later in life, like treating people fairly, standing up for what’s right, etc. Reading is a huge part of our family culture, so we try to choose these books that will instill good principles and values whenever we can. We have found that car rides are great for audio books as well!
How We Incorporate Family Style Teaching
The easiest way that we have found to include our family style subjects into our routine is by teaching at times when the little kids are the most engaged in an activity. When would that be? During lunchtime! This has been the best time to keep everyone’s mouths busy eating instead of competing for attention and volume. I will sit at the table and read the lesson out loud. I am able to ask questions and the kids are all sitting around the table in a perfect environment for me to see each of them and engage with them in their responses. Because of the seating arrangement, everyone is able to see when I show pictures or video clips. Doing our family style teaching during lunchtime also helps us have a clear starting and stopping point. We don’t always get through an entire lesson, but when the food is done, we are done teaching, so I usually have between 30-45 minutes of time with my captive audience!
Other Subjects you can Teach Family Style
Some other subjects that you can teach family style could include a foreign language. We are on the hunt for a good Spanish curriculum, so if you know of one, please leave it in the comments! You can teach music such as singing, rhythms, and note recognition. You could also include your scripture study as part of your Family Style teaching. We do a scripture study daily as part of our Homeschool Routine. Each child takes a turn reading and is included in the discussion.
If you think about it, there are probably other activities that you are already doing in your homeschool family style. Whenever you go to a museum or exhibit, you are doing family style teaching. Each child is learning at their own level and understanding, and enjoying the experience!
Family Style teaching has been a great way for us to simplify our Homeschool Routine. It creates a sense of togetherness, and lessens my load of individual teaching. It is fun to hear the kids have discussions throughout the day on the subjects that we are all learning together, or see them trying to replicate or reteach the principles that we have learned together!