How to Homeschool Gently When Life Takes Over

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Sometimes, life just happens. Something consumes us and makes our homeschooling routine hard, even impossible. You have a baby, you’re moving, there’s a health crisis, a money crisis, a death in the family,  the holidays.  Sometimes three of these things happen at once. 

Homeschooling doesn’t get done, routine is nowhere to be found, the to-do list unchecked or unmade, the kids have  screens in front of their faces for too many hours in the day. It happens. 

But we’re mommas. We worry. Even when consumed with multiple crisies, we worry about our kids learning. 

We wonder how we will fit it all in. The answer: We won’t. And that’s okay. The children will learn anyway. The routine will be back eventually. 

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How to Homeschool Gently When Life Takes Over

Here are some ways that we have homeschooled gently through the big stuff. 

Do The Thing That Everyone Loves.  Pick just one thing that holds your homeschool together no matter what, the thing that everyone enjoys. Getting outside every day, weekly baking,  etc.  For us, it’s reading aloud. I love to read aloud to my kids and they love this part of our day. When life dictates that we homeschool gently, we try to start our day with read alouds and if that’s all we get done that day, that’s okay.

Follow The Just-Do-One-Subject Rule. Pick one subject–this can be the one that all the kids can do together or it can be different for each child. Just do that one subject when possible. Once a day, once a week, whatever works.
If the 10-year-old is behind on math, do math. The child recently diagnosed with dyslexia does her reading program. The kindergartener needs you to play with him for 15 minutes each day. He’ll be fine. [see: Why We Do Old School Kindergarten]. 

Kids Choice, aka The Path of Least Resistance. Because who needs resistance from kids who don’t want to do assignments when you’re in crisis? Ask your kids to pick one thing they’re going to work on. Give them a list of options if you aren’t confident that they will just play Animal Jam all day. I am amazed at what my kids choose. It’s often not the thing I think they will choose.

Sibling Teaching. Have your kids something that they can help each other with: A workbook, a computer math game, reading practice. Note: Discontinue if this invokes more sibling fighting than it is worth. 

Don’t do all of these things at once. Pick one, two tops. 

You can do this one day a week or five. You can do it for a week, a month, a year.

That’s not enough, you say. I get that. The truth is, there are families who homeschool this way all the time and their children grow up, go to college and turn out to be fine adults who are not incarcerated. You’re kids will be fine, too. And so will mine.

If those worries won’t ease, try this:

Write down every activity that involved learning that your kids did in one day. I’m usually surprised at how much that is.  Counted change at the store (math). Played with Google Earth on the iPad (geography). Discussed a presidential candidate at the dinner table (current events). Played outside with neighbors (socialization, gross motor skills, P.E.)

Repeat as often as necessary.


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