So now that we have shown the clear advantages and benefits of "learning tree" versus "spiral" learning, and that a family-oriented learning approach is superior, let's get practical:

We mentioned that based upon the analogy of Psalm 1, within your family, your children can learn together and become mighty, productive trees that bear fruit.  OK, but how do you teach any subject to children of any age together as a family? (Yes, really!)  Here are ideas that come from our home, our experiments with family-style learning:

Together time
We had a home that was probably a lot like yours.  Most of the time it was, well, crazy.  Having five kids in six years was about as easy as driving your car down a creek bed.  But Laurie made it a practice to have "together time."  She would read together with the children by the fire.  We read scriptures together in the evening or morning with Dad.  We had school time in the afternoon with the older children while the baby was sleeping or playing.  We read aloud with the older children with younger ones listening in while playing with blocks or coloring.  We played educational games together.  (Now that the children are much older, we still play games together . . . remember, it's life-long learning!)


We really believe that the one-room schoolhouse style environment, that lets older children work with younger children, will allow them to learn more from teaching than studying their own material.  If you are a mom who studies with your children, you know how much more you learn just by teaching.  The same goes for your kids!  So, we studied our subjects together, allowing the older children to help the younger ones along.


In order to really begin learning family style, you must break free of curriculum restraints.  A curriculum is a tool, it should never be in charge!  So make the curriculum meet your needs.  We were able to find some great options for curriculum, not built on the spiral method.  Here are some of our favorites that can be used from K-12:

  • Life in America series (www.lifeinamerica.com).  This series is one of the best for teaching integrated subjects.  This curriculum can be used K-12 (really) and incorporates reading, history, science, English and Bible.  An excellent choice!
  • Coloring the Classics  This is a supplementary music program that is really easy to incorporate with many ages of children simultaneously.  Your kids will color and read together as they learn about music and composers.  Our children loved it. It is available at  www.colortheclassics.com.
  • Diana Waring; www.dianawaring.com.  The Warings provide a history series utilizing Diana's story telling abilities to make history come alive for children (and parents!) of all ages.  Workbooks are available that are usable across several ages that provide supplementary projects, etc.
  • The Light and the Glory  & From Sea to Shining Sea (by Marshall & Manuel), www.bakerbooks.com  This is a series we used to teach American history and civics to our children.  They have two levels of each book and a workbook for each level (elementary and secondary).  We used this version by reading the younger version aloud, then assigning work in the older version for our secondary students.  They each did work from the corresponding workbook.  This allowed the entire family to all be reading about and discussing the same topic from history at the same time. 

Of course we often made up our own unit studies or used someone else's ideas.  Since a unit study is focused around a particular topic, while integrating all subject areas, it was fairly simple to accommodate varying ages within the topic.  This allowed the entire family to concentrate on one topic (baseball, horses, etc) at one time.