Homeschooling During the Hard Times
This year has been crazy hard on me. I am not one of those people who “do pregnancy well.” Luckily, this pregnancy has been my easiest yet (No hospitalizations! No ER runs for IVs! No preterm labor at 32 weeks! AMAZING!) but….. easiest does not make easy. I spent the first 4 months or so highly medicated and miserable in bed with morning sickness, and then, we moved from Germany to the US. Soon, we’ll be welcoming a new baby…. and, in a blink of an eye, the whole year will be gone.
So, how do you Homeschool during the hard times?
How do you Homeschool when Mama is too sick to get out of bed? Or when you have to live out of a suitcase and are just too tired to do anything else? What do you do when you just can’t Homeschool the way you did in the past?
Decide what is the most important things your child needs to be working on at this time- and make that the highest priority, and do it first.
I knew when my Husband and I first started discussing another baby that I would need some sort of contingency plan to get me through a pregnancy. The very first thing I did when I realized we were entering a hard time was to make a list of what our biggest priorities for the year were going to be.
Mr. Man is an emergent reader, which is a critical time in a kiddo’s education. I didn’t want him to loose his momentum with reading! Bug, on the other hand is thriving with reading and math, but I really wanted to make sure he worked a lot on writing this year. In my home, the three R’s take the highest priority when it comes to academics, so I needed to make sure those things were covered.
I signed Bug up for an online writing class, and let someone else teach it this year. I supplemented Mr. Man’s lessons with a subscription to Time4Learning (which has an awesome reading program). Both Boys do these lessons first thing, so I know that if all else fails, at least priority #1 is done.
I also realized that at this time, I really needed to make sure the boys understood their important place in our home. At the peak of my morning sickness, Bug and Mr. Man both took on more work around the home, things like cooking simple meals, washing dishes, even running the laundry and helping out with their younger sister. “Home Economics” became a huge part of our homeschool day, and I don’t think for a moment that the lessons the kids learned in caring for their family and home are any less valuable than their more academic lessons.
Checkout Independent Programs
Outsource as much as you can to ease your load!
I have never been that interested in online or computer based programs in the past. I like the feeling of a book in my hands, and I like to sit down with the kids one-on-one to teach. But, when I am sick, I don’t have the time or energy to be planning unit studies or doing experiments or running around on field trips. Some days, I don’t even want to crack open a book! That wasn’t going to fly around here, so this year, we had to swap out many of our favorite programs for programs that work.
Some online/independent programs we have used this year:
Veritas Press Self-Paced History Courses
IXL Math and Language Arts
Bridgeway Academy Homeschool Co-Op Courses
Homeschool Spanish Academy
Typing Instructor For Kids
It’s not exactly the way I thought we would be homeschooling this year, but let me tell you, these programs have been a lifesaver. I set up shortcuts to all the programs on the desktop of the family computer, and set all the programs to stay signed in. All I need to do is send one of the kids to the computer, and they can get a huge amount done all on their own. All I need to do is check their grades and progress, and make sure I stay on top of them getting the work done.
We also have enjoyed independent workbooks:
Explode the Code
Daily Evan-Moor Workbooks
Keeping the Kids on Task
We’ve been using our Free Printable Time Management System with the kids to help them stay on task and get all of their work done each day. . Older kids should do well with a simple check list!
Bring the Work to Bed
Make the kids bring their work to you!
Not everything can be done independently. We’re still working through our Oak Meadow curriculum *in an adapted, Mama doesn’t feel well kind of way!* and I can’t drop Nancy Larson Science (because I love it) as well as a handful of other things. While one boy is on the computer, the other brings me some of their work and does it on the bed with me. I can help them, and rest at the same time. Having supplies in an easy to carry tote helps!
Ask the Village to step in.
Hopefully, there are other adults in your home who can help pick up the slack with cooking, cleaning, or even helping teach lessons now and then. In our home, Daddy is a lifesaver when it comes to this kind of stuff. He takes over with Little Miss and Mother Goose Time when I need him to, and also teaches science on a regular basis. He’s also willing to help me check math, or step in on days when the kids are not minding as well as they need to.
Mostly though, he helps with the house and cooking, and is patient and understanding when I have rough days.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, hire a teenager to come over as a “Mothers Helper” or even hire a housekeeper/order take out as much as the budget will allow.
Take an Honest Look at the Situation, and Consider Alternatives
Don’t forget you do have options.
Hopefully, by the time you have gotten this far, you have some sort of a plan for your children. If you are struggling with an “off season,” first and foremost I want to give you a big ‘ole virtual hug and tell you it is possible to still have a good homeschool year. At the same time, I want to encourage you to also be realistic, and to not be afraid of considering other options.
If your “off season” is a long time, if your children can’t get their work done (after trying some tools to help them focus), if focusing on life skills doesn’t feel like enough, if you don’t have help…. then Mama, don’t be afraid to give yourself a “grace year.” This may mean sending the kids to school for the year, or however long it takes to get your health (or whatever the situation is) under control. It really is okay…. because really, the important thing is that the kids are getting an education- no matter how they get it.
Not all homeschoolers will agree with this advice, but hey, we’re talking about school during crisis mode here! Whatever works for you is what you should choose to do.
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So many good things in this post! Very reasonable, very wise. I am glad you and your family are doing better. Your children are blessed to have such a mom. Thanks for writing this!
In this valley right now and trying to regroup and salvage school. Thanks for the encouragement!