The Year of the Split: Teaching Different Ages

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A “split” in bowling is when you leave pins on either side of the lane, but the ones in the middle are gone. I’m calling this school year “the year of the split” — I will be teaching my daughter Virginia, who is a senior in high school, and son Joel, who is in the first grade. There is a 10-year age gap between the two.

Virginia and Joel

I don’t think it will be really difficult teaching different ages, but I will miss the middle years. Virginia is done with the classes I like teaching, such as History and English. Thankfully Virginia is an independent learner and only needs help with Biology, but I am planning some fun outings just for the two of us — an art show, museum tour, and a play or ballet to finish up her Fine Arts credit.

On the other hand, Joel will take up much more of my time and energy, and I am getting prepared and geared up for that. We start Monday, August 29. He is on the cusp of reading and that — plus basic math facts and copy work — will be our main focus. But I have some fun and exciting things planned for him too.

This year is our American History rotation, and field trips abound. A visit to Harn Homestead to experience a one-room school and imagine what it was like to farm and keep house in the 19th century. Along with that, a visit to Fort Gibson and a Civil War reenactment are on the calendar. Thanks to a couple of Joel’s great aunts, we have a season pass to the zoo, which we will use for science field trips. He will also take part in a local homeschoolers P.E. class.

We will get together with my homeschooling sister Elizabeth and her daughters probably two days a week to do some activities as well. With them, I will teach Music, Art, Science Experiment procedure, and American History.

This year’s American History class is where most of my planning and excitement has centered. I am a genealogy addict and have been researching my family history for over 16 years. This year, I am planning to incorporate our family stories into American History, answering questions like “where were our ancestors during historical events?” Our ancestors can be traced back to the Mayflower, Colonial, Revolutionary War soldiers, pioneers, Civil War soldiers on both sides, WWI soldiers, CCC alumni, orphanage alumni, Pearl Harbor survivors, and WWII soldiers — just to name the big ones.

It is my hope that I can make history come alive and be relevant for my students. I am excited to get started, and I know this will be an unforgettable school year!

Do you have a wide gap in ages between your homeschooling students? What are the challenges of teaching different ages when they are many years apart? What are the advantages? Share your story in the comments.