Homeschooling when you are overwhelmed with life–Time4Learning can help
If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you know that the last couple years (oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s been years) haven’t been easy on me. Long story short, within the last two years we moved to the States from Germany, I had a difficult pregnancy, I had a difficult baby, I had emergency surgery, I started working full time, I started grad school, I got sick, and I had another surgery and a terrible recovery.
Looking at the last two years, I am not sure how we are still standing, let alone still homeschooling.
But I love homeschooling. I love it. I love the freedom I have to spend time with my kids, and I love the freedom they have to learn about anything they want (current obsessions: inventions, motors, chemistry, cooking, animals, Pokemon and Minecraft). I love sleeping in with them on Thursdays, and baking cookies with them, and dancing in the kitchen. I love what we do… but I am not going to lie.
It’s been hard. I need programs and systems in place to ease some of the weight on my shoulders. After all, there is only so much time in the day.
The kids using Time4Learning on their Kindles while I was stuck in bed after surgery
So how can you ease your load?
Ask for help
First things first, if you are reading this and thinking that you are also terribly overwhelmed, I need you to just stop right there and take a step back. Look around you. There are people in your home. Most of them may be little, but those little people can HELP. Create chore lists, set up a buddy system, “hire” the oldest to tutor the youngest, and designate quiet time for Mom. If you have the funds to hire a mother’s helper or a cleaning service, do it. Tell your mother, your husband, your friends and your neighbors that you need help. ASK for help. Do it now, and don’t look back.
Pick programs that save you time
I am a huge fan of anything that saves me time. Sometimes, that means buying programs that have all the items you need in the package or teachers manuals with scripts. Other times that means online classes and programs that are completely self-paced and independent.
Enter Time4Learning. I’ve been using this program since I was pregnant with Peanut. I can’t tell you enough good about it. It is an online program that covers language arts, math, science and social studies for K-12. Personally, I have used the Pre-K through 2nd-grade levels.
In the early grades, the curriculum is fully animated and interactive. The lessons include cute videos, interesting characters, songs, and games to teach everything from phonics to addition. The subscription includes access to Science4Us for the early grades, another personal favorite of mine.
When they log in, they can choose to do lessons in Language Arts, Science, Math or Social Science. As they go in order through the lessons, the skills build. I love that the program reads the content aloud to the little ones, so even though Little Miss is still learning to read, she is able to use this program. Doodle, who is easily frustrated, loves watching the videos and especially loves the science section.
Time4Learning does include evaluations, and they can even turn in work by saving it to their file. I am able to log in and check the work they have done- from the parent section I can see when they logged in, what scores they got on their work, and what activities they tried.
Doodle using Time4Learning while I check with work- hanging out at Panera between his therapies and my appointments has become a tradition for us.
How is it working?
The kids are supposed to do an hour of Time4Learning each day that I am in the office. I head into the city three days a week, and it’s been hard for me to feel like I am being a successful homeschooler on those days. Granted, I know that we do work in the evenings and the weekends (so, yes, we are doing everything we need to!) but it’s hard. My older son knows that he needs to do some activities from Language Arts, Math and Science each day. This really eases my anxiety about whether or not I am doing a good job with the kids- I know that even if I am exhausted when I get home from work, they have done SOMETHING that day.
And the something they have done is nothing to turn your nose up at either. This program is solid. I want to know that the programs I am using are not just filling time- I want the kids to be really learning. I come home, and the kids can tell me they learned the difference between synonyms and antonyms, or the difference between liquids and gasses. They’re excited about their lessons. They log in happily, and they complete the work without complaint.
Many people use Time4Learning as a full curriculum, and I can totally see how they make it work for them. When we use it, it’s an hour or so a day, but as a full program, you’ll probably need to dedicate a couple more hours to complete all the lessons required. It is a complete program, and if you pair it with journal writing, plenty of reading and spelling practice (spelling lists are available in the parents section) you’re set. You can use the planner tools to lay out a complete year plan with this program.
I need to explore it more at the older levels, but I absolutely can recommend it for the Pre-K-Second crowd, and if you are feeling overwhelmed, I hope you try it for the summer! One lucky reader will get a free six-month subscription for their kiddo- use the form below to enter to win!
My best tips for new homeschoolers is to follow your child; seek wisdom and support from those already in the trenches; get outside as much as possible with your kids; and meal plan!
My tip would be don’t worry about creating the perfect s hooligans setting. I street
Ssed myself sick trying to be prepared and it was horrible. You kow what your kids need better than anyone else so trust your gut. There is no one size fits all to this.
My best tip for a homeschooler is to remember what works for you might not be what works for someone else. For example we are a family of night owls by nature. I am not a morning person, especially with a young one yet. So for us, homeschooling in the afternoon works best at least for the stuff that I have to be actively teaching. Might this change? Yes, daily! But if I get caught up in the “expectations” to homeschool during the “normal” school day I get extremely discouraged.
My tip would be to keep things simple and fun. There are so many options out there it easy to quickly get overwhelmed trying to do to much.
My tip is when overwhelmed, stop and do something fun, then go back to the task that was overwhelming. It will clear your head and give you and the child or children a chance to destress as well. Everyday won’t be perfect, but overall there are enough productive days to make a difference.
My first tip as an experienced homeschool Mom is “Don’t allow fret and worry become part of your curriculum”.
RELAX and have fun with your kids
Keep on trying!
love time 4 learning, but sometimes can’t afford it!
Wake up before your kids and pray to God for patience and guidance.
Gosh you have had a lot on your plate. It’s amazing how you’re managing – well done. Those programs look good too (especially intrigued by the science ones), thanks for sharing.
For a new homeschooling family, I would like to say that you ask those around you who are currently or have home schooled. They will know what worked best for them. Also, I would also find out where your child is at before you buy anything so that you know what you need. Also, having Bible Time and prayer is a must. If you have multiple children, they may be at different levels. Just be patient.
Advice….Your homeschool day does not have to look like the other homeschool family you know! Do NOT compare! What works for one family may not work for yours. That is absolutely okay! 🙂
For new homeschoolers, the best advice I think is to ask- ask questions of veteran homeschoolers, ask for help of those around you, ask yourself what your real goals are, ask your children what they want to learn. And remain flexible. The best benefit of homeschooling is that it is up to you- if something isn’t working consider changing it, and be open to great learning opportunities that present themselves.
Always try to be positive. Homeschool should not be stressful for the kids every day. Enjoy your kids!
Be prepared to switch things as you go and learn which kids need which curriculum.
My best advice is to keep it simple! When I first started homeschooling I wanted everything to be perfect and I over did things which drove me crazy! I was overwhelmed with trying to be perfect. Just take it day by day and have fun with your kids!
I would say to evaluate where your children are at – to figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are. I would also find out what their learning style is, and find out how and what they enjoy learning. From that point, you can plan what curriculum to use with them, or tailor free curriculum to their learning styles. I would also suggest that planning what to teach each day is extremely helpful, especially if you’ll be teaching more than one child.
I agree – starting each day with prayer a s family Bible reading helps to set the mood for the whole day.
I am new to homeschooling. The idea that you are working and Homeschooling is amazing to me. You are doing enough. I wish you all the best.
Start each day with family time: Prayers, Bible time, Stories. It’s a good start of the day and then kids know that school start after this.
Just breathe! Just know that whatever you are doing with your child is so much more than they would be getting in public school. Understand you will probably have a bad day here and there. It’s okay! Put away the books and do art, go outside and do a nature study, just find something fun to do.
I would love to try Time 4 learning! With a new baby and being a newbie homeschooler, I could totally use the help:)
The first thing I tell new homeschoolers is, “Relax and breathe. It’s okay to make homeschooling fun. It doesn’t need to be a big scary thing.”
Thank you! 🙂