We’ve been homeschooling since our oldest was in kindergarten, which makes this our 6th year of homeschooling. During those 6 years, we have welcomed 4 new babies into our family. And with those babies came a lot of change.
Along the way, I’ve learned that if you are going to be a homeschooler and continue to grow your class size, then you need to be prepared and you need to be flexible. With each baby, it’s gotten easier to welcome a new “classmate” during the year because we have learned what works for us and what doesn’t.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it provides. Adding a new family member during the school year can be a smooth transition. Here are some ideas and tips to help you get through this short season:
1. Don’t school.
Plain and simple, don’t do it. Plan ahead and save most of your break time for after the baby is born. Take this time to rest, recover, adjust, and to enjoy your new family member. Besides, your children will be learning real-life skills as you bring this new baby home and go about caring for this little one; they are learning to be self-sufficient and about caring for others.
2. School year round.
One of the big changes we have recently made in our homeschooling is that we have started to school year round. This allows for even more flexibility with our breaks. So, when baby comes, you can easily take a few weeks off (or more) and not have the added stress of feeling like you need to get back to schooling quickly.
3. Read – A LOT.
Use this time to snuggle up on the couch with your kids. You can still get a lot of school done by just reading books and having your kids narrate back to you. And the beauty is, this works for most subjects, not just reading and literature. And mom, if you are too tired to read, have an older sibling read to the little ones or break out some audiobooks.
4. Stick to the basics.
Don’t worry about following your usual schedule or routine. Weed out all the extras and just focus on the basics, such as Bible, math, and reading. Subjects such as science, history, art, and music can wait until life normalizes a bit.
5. Plan and prep in advance.
If you have older children that can work independently, plan and prepare a few weeks of work that they can do on their own while you recover. If you have some older and younger children, plan some stuff for the older kids to do with the little ones.
6. Let Dad teach.
If Dad is on board with this, have him do the teaching. Since most dads work outside the home and usually work during the day, you will probably have to switch things up a bit and do the schooling in the evening (and/or on the weekends) when Dad is home. Or have Dad tend to the baby (and any other little ones) while you get some schooling done with the older children.
7. Ease back into school.
Whether you have taken a break or are just doing the basics, when you are ready to get back to your usual school routine, do it slowly. Add in another subject every couple days, or allow yourself a couple days to complete an assignment that would normally take you one day. Take it easy and go slow.
8. Lower your expectations.
Know your limits and be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day. You have a newborn now that requires a lot of attention, so you probably won’t be able to get done everything that you used to be able to do in a day; at least in the beginning. This will help lessen your feelings of frustration when you can’t check everything off your to-do list each day.
9. Hire help.
If it’s in the budget, hire someone to come in and clean, or to watch the little ones while you school the older ones, or to do the actually schooling while you rest and take care of the baby. I know this isn’t practical for everyone, so instead, look into getting volunteers from your church or a mom’s group that you might be part of to help with cleaning and meals, or help with the kids and schooling. Maybe you know an older homeschooled student that would volunteer to come over and help with the little ones or with the schooling for a couple hours a day.
10. Use the electronics.
Yes, I just said that (or rather typed it). It’s just for a short time; let the kids watch educational videos or dvds, play apps on the ipad, or play games on the computer. Using these forms of technology for schooling will be a welcomed break and change for everyone.
If your children miss anything, they will catch up. Children learn all the time and in many different ways. During this time they will be learning life skills that are just as important as the lessons they learn during school. Every situation provides a learning opportunity, and the post partum period is no exception. This is such a short season and your life will be back to “normal” before you know it.