Two of my children are 19 months apart. When they were little and I was tossing around the idea of homeschooling, someone wise advised me to teach them together for simplicity’s sake. When I pressed this advice against the framework of who my kids actually were at the time, it seemed to fit well. My eldest child was right on the money as far as development and my second was quite a bit ahead of schedule. So, here I am, 8 years later, still teaching my two kids as if they are twins in the same grade. However, there seems to be a snag sometimes.
You see, despite the ease of teaching the same material only once instead of twice, that means my kids are using the same textbook at the same time. Being the frugal homeschooler, I refuse to buy two of something unless I absolutely have to such as consumable workbooks or inexpensive tools like protractors for math. I have found a few ways to make this work in our home.
First, the simple “take turns with the textbook” works occasionally. When levels of competition are low or stress about finishing school work in x amount of time isn’t a concern, my kids are happy to listen to the lesson together, then use the textbook one at the time. This is occasionally really stressful when one of them feels like the other will finish school first or if she notices her sister dawdling, thus drawing out the day for both of them.
Second, we tried the “lab partner” method. During this season, they had to learn to work right next to each other because the book was placed in-between them on the table. This quickly ended for a few reasons; they either disliked being in such close proximity to their sister or the flipping of pages back and forth was bothersome.
Due to copyright laws mentioned in the front of the particular textbook we shared, I wasn’t permitted to photocopy or scan any part of the book, so that wasn’t a moral option. I know of another parent that took her copy of an expensive textbook to a print shop and asked them to cut off the spine and punch holes in all the pages. She then put the book in a binder and was able to give different pages to the students to work on at the same time. Since this is not in violation of the copyright-terms, I would consider doing the same if necessary.
In closing, I have learned that you do not need to purchase two copies of a non-consumable textbook, but you have the find ways around the frustration of needed to share the book if you have two kids working from it at the same time. I remind my kids that there are school systems all over the world that have textbook shortages and the kids develop the essential skills of sharing, waiting their turn and working hard to value their time with the textbook while they have it.
Do you have kids using the same book as I do? Perhaps yours are twins and need to share just about everything? How have you managed to juggle the added expense of buying double or do you figure out ways to buy only one when you can? Share your thoughts!
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.