Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Homeschooling with A Bunch of Little Kids

The new school year is upon us and there are all sorts of school posts flying around. Around here we are going into our second year of officially homeschooling, as opposed to just doing whatever the heck we all want with a stack of library books and some crayons. Last year went well on the whole, but because Nora was practically a newborn, still breastfeeding, and Max was under 2 for half the year I had a very minimal schedule, curriculum and expectations for the year. Some things went really well and other things drove me kinda crazy.

Sidebar: I'm fairly committed to homeschooling. I believe in it strongly from a educational, familial, religious, mothering, everything standpoint. You know how the catchy thing to say about homeschooling lately is "It's not the hill I'm going to die on"? Well, it's not the hill I want to die on but it's the hill I'm going to put the most work into working, especially while my kids are young. That being said, if things radically changed and a great Catholic school began to exist 5 minutes down the road I'd be seriously tempted, but as things stand now schools in my town, Alberta, Canada...not my cup of tea for small, beautiful, people. So I hope that helps in case you think I'm just a glutton for punishment homeschooling with 5 kids age 7 and under -- as some strangers have been kind enough to point out! 

But it is really difficult to homeschool with only little children. It's hard to do anything and everything with only little children, ammiright? So it can be really discouraging reading a lot of homeschooling blogs because they seem so wildly unrealistic for those of us who have a majority of under-the-age-of-reason kids.

There are no laid in stone schedules around here. There are not copious amounts of activities and curriculum that involve a lot of mom cutting, pasting, gluing, creating. There are constant needs to be attended to that get in the way of concrete schedules and lessons. There are babies crying to be fed, babies needing to be washed and changed, fights to be broken up, food to be given out, fights broken up, babies to be washed and repeat. There's also a copious amount of whining. Choruses of "Maamm, where's my blankity-blank toy??" and "Can I have more raisins/cereal/apples/food?" every 4.3 minutes. People just need, need, need around here. That is the majority of my day and time.

Add to this barrage of appeals the fact I can't guarantee a full night's sleep yet or when the babies will awake, and that my husband leaves for work before 6 am everyday, I pretty much need a break by 9 am. Just a couple minutes of no asking or whining really. Just a little recharge. Of course, this is a pretty idea, a pie-in-the-sky idea. But it's necessary in some form or else I'm on the fast train to meltdown by 10:30 am.

Basically I need a break before I even start the homeschooling.

I've kept our daily curriculum that requires my devoted attention to Gemma and Dom (who are both working together through the same reading and math) to a sacred 45 minutes in baby's nap time each morning. That leaves Luke who usually can entertain himself with Legos, stickers, books, activities very well and Max, who usually likes to scream, break things, and cause general disruption. I know, I know, Pinterest. But there are not enough "little kid play boxes for school time" to give me enough patience some days to deal with 2 year old crazy. It's a fact, Jack.

So I need breaks. I don't have the patience of Job. It is hard to deal with little kids constantly without a little phone time, reading some blogs, locking myself in the bathroom, even falling face down on my bed for several minutes every hour, or half hour some days. I'm admitting it.

Which brings me to my main difficulty that I'm trying to combat this year for a better school year: giving myself breaks to refresh my patience levels! I think I've got to be 100% more intentional about giving myself some time to get back on track before making the kids go through another lesson, read another book, get-everything-done-right now! I'm hoping it doesn't come to a Daniel Tiger every 50 minutes, but I'm going to make myself take breaks where I give myself a little time to not respond to every superfluous toddler demand, or explain another question about the atmosphere to the 5 year old. It will just look like ten minutes of me not accomplishing anything. It will look to the hard and fast homeschool scheduler like I'm going off-track, derailing the school day, allowing precious time to be further exploring the intricacies of Ancient Egypt evaporate.

This is all to support the fact I believe my kids are having a pretty great time at home. They're learning like little intelligence-sponges. They love books, asking questions, trying new things. They maintain creative and imaginative play the rest of the day outside of book learning. There is no busy-work or being forced to be around people that could be rotten influences. There is time for nap time, they don't have to awoken at a God-forsaken hour to get on the bus.

It's not perfect. But there is no perfect.

I'm going to take a lot of breaks this year if that's what it's going to take to make everything work, because I've gotta lot of little kids. Making it all for work you is what homeschooling is all about.

follow along:

facebook ~ instagram ~ pinterest


  1. Sounds like a great plan. I'm kind of getting stressed about starting school this year with the baby and a crazy two year old. Taking little breaks to recharge will be a must for me too I think!

  2. This is IT. You're the queen. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. I almost gave this post a pass, because we can't homeschool (for a variety of reasons not going into on a combox) even though we started our family with that intention, and sometimes the happy clappy homeschooling posts kind of bother me, and make me feel guilty, like I'm failing my kids by not homeschooling them.

    But, I'm glad I read your whole post, because it was useful to me to think about, even though we aren't homeschooling. We may end up doing it anyway, despite our difficulties, in a few years, and sometimes I need someone else who has kids roughly the same as age mine to tell it like it is. Thanks for your honesty, and your transparency. I struggle a lot with my introversion when all the kids are home, and that is one of the things that makes me incredibly nervous about homeschooling (there are many many other factors involved, but that is one of them). I worry that my parenting will degenerate into me hiding in a room somewhere while the kids tear the house and each other apart because I just.can'

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. You've given me some things to ponder.

  4. We're not planning on homeschooling right now (Grace is starting PreK at the Catholic school in town next week!!) but I do love reading these posts... just in case? They just are fascinating to me, to see how you homeschooling moms can make it work and how your little people thrive with it.

  5. Good for you! I so admire homeschooling moms, especially those with large, young families. My oldest is headed to grade 1 this year and I've considered homeschooling but I really don't know if it's for me! I worry I'd go insane, but it's good to hear I am not the only one worried about sanity breaks (as in, a break for sanity sake and not a break in my sanity).

  6. The break thing is key, but so hard when I just want it all done!!! But breaking would be better for me and for them. Hard stops for a bit of prayer and then to start again. I need to think about this so more.

  7. Christy, just...thank you. Thank you for this honest look at a really tough job. This is my first year homeschooling and I've got a 2 yr old and baby also in the mix, so I'm taking copius notes from you :). And Daniel Tiger forever ;)

  8. How do Luke and Max do together? Or other sibling pairings to cover breaks/school work? Recently I've been enlisting my four-year-old to "take care of" his two-year-old sister for me when I need a little break. It usually works long enough for me to regroup.

    Also, I like your perspective that yes, this is hard but better than the alternative! It IS worth it. And you're on your way out of the tunnel of all littles!

  9. Hi Christy! Loved your post-- I am officially joining you on the homeschool hill this year. My biggest reservation all along has been- how will I balance the everyday demands of house, husband and multiple children while also producing this whole curriculum and creating 'school' for the children as well!?! But I think reading your post makes me realize that it'll be ok to take breaks - I'll NEED to take breaks. And I can't feel too bad about interruptions, because interruptions are all part of the home in homeschool! I've started a blog on blogger ' ' to record our first steps of home schooling... not too sure what I am doing compared to you Christy but I look forward to talking to you more this year- especially if I am ready to give up!

  10. "But there are not enough 'little kid play boxes for school time' to give me enough patience some days to deal with 2 year old crazy." Yes!!! This. Thank you. Sometimes I feel like I'm a big loser because Why does everyone else have their two-year-old beautifully occupied with an activity in a box and mine just throws the stuff everywhere and then proceeds to destroy my whiteboard? Taking a lot of breaks. Good idea :)

  11. Thank you for this awesomely honest post! I love to read your posts in general, but I smiled a LOT at this one. I'm starting homeschool pre-K with my 4 year old and I also have a 3 and a 1 year old running around. It's good to know that I'm not the only mom hiding in the bathroom every now and then for a break! And even though we can be totally committed to homeschooling, it is okay to admit that nothing is perfect, and that with all these needs around us, sometimes we have to attend to our own need for sanity first!

  12. Great post! I love you sharing your homeschool journey! This mama is taking notes and prays that you can get those little breaks because I know I will be the mama who desperately seeks them out too once we start our own little homeschooling journey!

  13. This is such a wonderful post and I honestly feel like it's an answer to my prayers over the past two days! We're only 2 weeks into our second year of homeschooling and I have been asking God (fervently!) for patience this week! I only have one little one, but an almost 2 year old boy can definitely make things interesting throughout the day. It's nice to think that maybe the breaks are not only helping mom, but helping the kids, too. Thanks for your honesty!

  14. And it's fabulous posts like this (and people like you) that remind me I'm not crazy just human.
    Whoever thought of little kid quiet boxes never had little kids. First of all, when the heck does a mama have that kind of time to do all the prep work? Secondly, what little kid sits in one spot quietly with them doing exactly what they're meant for? And, finally, how long do they work for? 5 minutes? Not. Worth. It.
    I shall be toasting you with my sippy cup of wine from my bathroom.

  15. "Making it all work for you is what homeschooling is all about." Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Thanks for the reminder. It's so great to get to follow along with other people on similar journeys! :)


Imagine we're having a coffee together and let me know what you think --
I love comments almost as much as coffee!

(And please check to make sure your email address is connected to your profile, I'd love to email you a reply.)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...