We are a large homeschooling family. Having lots of children is certainly a blessing, but it also presents challenges. One of the biggest challenges is making sure each child receives special attention from us parents. Do you have any suggestions?
One school year about ten years ago, I decided to make Fridays our “extra-curricular” days. Instead of concentrating on “academic” learning, that weekday was focused on field trips, art, music, home economics, gym, etc. For one of our home economic activities, I would assign (on a rotating basis) a child to help me plan and prepare a meal for that weekend. We would sit down together and go through cookbooks and pick out different recipes. We would create a shopping list and go shopping together. We would spend time preparing and then serving the meal together.
I did not realize how much of an impact this activity made on my children until a week or so ago when my now almost 19 year old son began a comment by asking, “Do you remember when we each used to plan a meal with you?…” In that moment, I regretted not having continued the activity beyond the one year that we did it.
Since homeschooling is really an all-encompassing lifestyle, I will share another activity that my husband and I did on a regular basis for quite a few years. Once each month, my husband or I would alternate turns by taking out one of our children on a lunch or dinner or ice cream or movie “date.” The kids enjoyed this so much that after the first year, they asked if we could speed up the process so they didn’t have to wait so long in between turns (six kids rotating turns monthly only gave them two “dates” each per year). Beginning the second year, we changed it to two kids taking a rotating turn with both my husband and me together. We also arranged the rotation so that each child was not always taking a turn with the same sibling.
We eventually stopped doing this as the kids got older, and it became more challenging to coordinate varying work and school (college for some) schedules. Now and then, they do still ask (half-jokingly) when it’s their turn again. With one son now married and living and working out of state, another son working and living out of state, and another son leaving for Army bootcamp in a little over a month, if we do start this up again, the purpose will be different. Before it was to ensure that each child knew he/she was loved and uniquely cherished as part of our big family. I think that part stuck with them. Meanwhile, I do believe kids from large families can experience a bit of the “empty nest” syndrome as siblings start moving out one by one. Perhaps we will start it up again at some point as a simple nostalgic reminder of one of the acts of love that our big family did back when they were all home growing up together.