Combining multiple children into the same History / Bible / Literature (HBL) level can be a major time, money, and brain saver for a homeschool parent, but there are a few logistics to figure out. One is how to handle the Readers.
An HBL has two kinds of books: Read-Alouds that the parent reads to the children and Readers that are designed for children to read independently. When combining multiple children in one HBL, it’s easy to read Read-Alouds to the entire group, but Readers are a bit more complicated.
It is important to note that in HBL levels K, A, B, and C, the Readers are based on reading level. It is best if you place your child in the appropriate level based on reading skill, so you may have different readers because of this. Here you can give your child the reading assessment to find the appropriate see what reader level is best for your child.
Because I have three children in the same HBL using the same level of Readers, I have tried all of the following strategies.
1. Share Readers by Taking Turns or Creative Scheduling
Sharing Readers could be handled several different ways. Your children could alternate reading one paragraph out loud. By passing the book back and forth, they can share the book in real time.
Unfortunately, my kids cannot share a Reader simultaneously because they have different reading speeds and become frustrated. Instead, we use a Reader rotation that staggers reading time throughout the day.
My children work on each subject for about 20-30 minutes or until it is completed. If one child gets done before the other that is okay, they can work on other table work, draw, or have quiet free time.
Here is what our schedule looks like:
|Time||Child 1||Child 2||Child 3|
|10:00-10:20||Reader||Chore or Co-op work||Math|
|10:20-10:40||Math||Reader||Chore or Co-op Work|
|10:40-11:00||Chore or Co-op work||Math||Reader|
After each child finishes the Reader, I then go over the questions provided in the Instructor’s Guide to see what they remember. This quick verbal exchange with each child one-on-one confirms that they are comprehending the material.
The Instructor’s Guide is my lifeline in homeschooling multiple children! It not only keeps me on track with the schedule, but also provides vocabulary reinforcement, context, and open ended questions that can trigger great discussions. It really reduces the amount of prep time I need because everything is ready to go. I just have to flip to the Reader section, and everything is at my fingertips.
2. Swap the Order of the Readers
If two children are sharing the same HBL level, an easy way to share Readers is to adjust the reader schedule by simply flip flopping them. So for instance in HBL E if the next two books scheduled were Old Yeller and Turn Homeward, Hannalee, one child would read Old Yeller while the other read Turn Homeward, Hannalee. Then they would switch.
This strategy works really well for two children, but becomes more complicated when there are three or more. Flip flopping the books also works best with books of similar lengths.
3. Purchase Extra Copies of the Readers
If you find your children cannot share, or it becomes too much of a hassle adjusting the schedule, you can always purchase an extra set of readers. Sonlight makes it easy!
Unexpected Benefits of Sharing Readers
When my family first started sharing Readers, we had a little trouble because my children were fighting over who got to read the book first. Everyone would much rather read the fun books than do math. Once my children settled into the creative Reader schedule, things went much smoother, and I started noticing some unexpected benefits.
By combining your children into the same HBL, you are opening up the door for some great table discussions. For example, when my children read Om-Kas-Toe in HBL D, they had a great talk about how unfair it would have been if Tall Woman would not have gotten to keep both children because both girls and boys matter. Our family then was able to discuss how girls and boys are made in God’s image. This discussion all stemmed from sharing the same Readers.
Besides the great discussions, sharing Readers is just what it sounds like, an opportunity to share. It is an opportunity to practice patience as well, and none of us can ever get too good at either of those. My children are not only learning academic subjects together; they are also learning to work together. Combining your children may seem like more work at first, but it is well worth it!