I think everybody who reads this blog knows that I am in the middle (32 weeks!) of a very hard pregnancy. I am at the point where I really can’t walk (due to severe SPD) and yet, I still have the same responsibilities of homeschooling my three young children and taking care of my home. Many days I’ve thought…Am I crazy?! I should send these kids to school! Haha. Top that with a husband who works in Hollywood and has CRAZZZY hours often – it can sometimes seem like it’s just too much.
But then I stop myself and realize that this is a season, and one that will pass in time. What’s important is making it work for NOW – and realizing that homeschooling really is a marathon, not a sprint. There are many times in life – from illness, to moving, to having a new baby at home – when homeschooling gets hard!
I keep coming back to how worth it homeschooling is – even though we have hard days sometimes, the overall tapestry is beautiful! I love watching our family grow and learn together, and I especially enjoy how close we are as a family, in part, because of this choice we’ve made…
Here are a few things we’re doing during this season of homeschooling to make it work for us:
1) Keep It Simple/Focus on the Basics
I have to say, my expectations are much lower than they were six months ago! Haha! And that’s fine. We do the subjects we’re required to do – but I don’t push us above and beyond, and if one day here or there slips through the cracks, it’s okay. Even public schools have days off, and since I homeschool year-round, I more than make up for those days off! I’m more focused on big picture: Do they love learning? Are they learning something? If so…we’re good!
2) Stagger Learning:
I have reset the girls’ wake-up times so that my youngest wakes up first – I get her breakfast and have some quiet time with her. Then, my oldest wakes up – I get her a quick breakfast, get her dressed, and then I start on school with her for her hardest subject (math). Next, my middle wakes up – I snuggle with her to start her day on a high note, and by this time, I am mostly done with my oldest’s lessons. I then move on to doing math with my middle child while my oldest works on reading, writing, and her other subjects.
I know this won’t work for everybody, but I find that by staggering their start and doing the hardest lessons first – it allows me to have downtime later in the day when I need it. If I end up putting on Liberty’s Kids (afflink) later for History…well, then so be it. 😉
3) Self-Directed Learning:
Even though my children are quite young, they are very self-directed learners. I have lots of books and online learning programs available for them. They have the use of an iPad, filled with educational apps. I don’t feel guilty when they are on an iPad because I know everything on that iPad is a learning program – I don’t have “fun” apps on there (of course, they think they’re fun because they don’t know any better! Haha)
This is Paprika (8) practicing her math division drills on the iPad just for fun! 🙂
4) Focus on Reading:
A HUGE cornerstone of our homeschool is reading. I know a lot of families have kids who read much later – and there is nothing wrong with that at all!
I can tell you that once a child can read independently, my work is cut way down. My kids have all been very early and extremely strong readers. When a child crosses over that threshold of learning to read to reading for comprehension/understanding…that is a very happy time in my house!
That is one reason that we read so much in our house – we have stacks of books available at all times – from the public library to an extensive home library I’ve cobbled together from lots of different places. Now that the girls can read so well, they read to each other constantly and to me, as well!
5) Make Extracurriculars Count:
I am at the stage right now where I just don’t have the energy to be a Mom Taxi Service. And I refuse to feel guilty about it. We go to the park, outdoors, and to fun places when we can – and when my body will allow! For the most part, I have cut way back on our extracurriculars during this season of life. Because of my health, I had to really evaluate what is working and worth our time/money.
Paprika still does her weekly private piano lesson at a local music studio – that is something that is worth it to our family, for example! I try to make sure that each extracurricular is working hard for us and that we’re not just signing up for things willy-nilly.
6) Get Help!
Some people have family nearby or hire help – whether that be a babysitter, a housecleaner, or a tutor. For me, I don’t have family living nearby – and I haven’t hired a babysitter or housecleaner to help out. But I have done other things! One way I get help is that I have my kids take online classes in areas of their interests. I mentioned earlier that Paprika is taking art classes through Craftsy (afflink). I used to take her to art classes but then I realized that for all the money I was spending, and all the time I wasted running around – she actually got a much better experience at home!
We also have a Spanish Tutor via Skype that we use on a regular basis (as often as three days/week). It was really important to me for the kids to learn a foreign language – and I do know Spanish – but having someone else (a native speaker) take the reins on this has been a huge help to me.
For me, realizing I can’t do it all has been very freeing! We all can get help in the way that we need it – and I think it’s important to realize what’s help to one person may not be the kind of help every homeschooling mom needs… We just have to get creative and discover what works best for us, and not be afraid to try that!
7) Let the Kids Help!
So, I know this is controversial – but really, my kids are a GREAT help to me in our homeschool because I let them help! They teach each other things all day long. When Ginger (5) was learning how to read, Paprika (8) was often by her side helping her with the tricky words. Because of this, Ginger loves reading and is now reading at a middle school level. When Violet (then 2) was learning to use the potty, Ginger (then 4) took her to the bathroom more times than I did!
When you’re juggling multiple kids, all with different areas of expertise, it is a-okay to let them help teach their siblings. I am still present and overseeing, of course! I just can’t tell you how much more patient, loving, and understanding the children are to one another when they help each other like this. It makes us stronger as a family – and really, can make these times of hardship in homeschooling an extra special blessing.
Right now, Ginger (5) is teaching Violet (newly 3) how to read! It’s really fun for us all to get together and help one another like this – especially since it instills so much pride in the older siblings and so much excitement in the younger siblings.
When people ask me: How do I do it ALL?!!! You only have two hands, they say!
The truth is, that I don’t have just two hands. I have all our hands, working together – and that’s how we do it. It takes teamwork to make the dream work. 😉