Many families face change during their homeschooling years. Some of the changes may cause more stress than others. And everyone – parents, children, and extended family – will react differently. We had a change in our family when my mother moved in with us in May of 2019. As we move forward, there will be more changes as we hope to make changes to our house so as to fit all six of us better. How can one handle changes while still homeschooling? I have found flexibility to be the key.
Have a Plan B
Many homeschoolers love planners and there are so many great choices – from digital or print to ones that are pre-designed to ones that we can put together with stickers or kits. While I think it is important to have a plan (and I do write down a plan for my own teenage son), I see it just as a plan. The things listed are those that I would like to accomplish for the week and if we need to move lessons or topics around, that is okay. When planning for our first grader and kindergartner, I have an idea for what I would like to accomplish and lately I have been letting them write out their schedules on lesson planner sheets.
When days occur where we do not accomplish what I hoped to do, I simply take a step back and see what was accomplished. There might not be an actual plan B but one soon materializes. Did we spend time reading together or playing games that are set in history or that encourage cooperation or math skills? If the kids played video games like Minecraft, did they use math to plan out a city-building project or did they recreate a famous historical landmark? Or perhaps one or more of our children helped with dinner. These activities may not be listed on your homeschool planner, but that does not make them any less important.
Our homeschooling children fall into two age groups – teen and young elementary aged. Our teen, who just started homeschooling at 10th grade, completes most of his assignments on his own. Our two younger children work with me. For the first part of their official homeschooling, we worked at the dining room table. This is the central room in our house which means that it sees a lot of traffic during the day when everyone is home. Before my mother moved in, there was only myself and our children at home (while my husband worked). With her moving in (and now with my husband home due to the quarantining), we moved from the dining room to the living room as we are less likely to be interrupted as we were in the dining room. I needed to be flexible with my desire to have both children working at the same time with me. Now we take turns and work at the couch or at their small table.
Interruptions have become a much more regular occurrence when coupled with our younger children’s desire to spend time with their grandmother. I have struggled with these things. I like to accomplish tasks in a timely manner. I do not always like to call our children away from their grandmother because the time spent with her is valuable, but we do need to homeschool. And if they were playing a game or coloring with her, the children who arrive at the homeschool table are not always the happiest of students. So, I learn to homeschool throughout the day in small segments. We homeschool after dinner. For some families, homeschooling might even include the grandparent (or grandparents) living with them. Perhaps they can supervise reading, spelling, or mathematics. The key to this is flexibility and working together.
When life and housing situations change, everything changes. All the lessons, plans, and facts are important but so is learning to be flexible and resilient. Through this experience, our children are learning that taking care of family is important. Even when we are stretched and find ourselves questioning decisions, we can teach our children how to handle themselves with grace and compassion.
Of course, things are changing for everyone during this time period of stay-at-home orders as various states in the United States and countries have different expectations of their citizens. Many families are trying their hand at schooling at home, homeschooling, distance learning, or a combination of things to ensure their children continue to learn and grow. So, no matter what changes your family faces, I recommend having faith in yourself and learn to be as flexible as you can to make things work for your families’ needs.
Kristen is a housewife and mother to a teen stepson and two younger children (son, 5, and daughter, 3). She is a certified social studies teacher and has worked as a volunteer at a National Park site, in the education department of a metropolitan zoo, and as a high school history teacher. Kristen has maintained a blog where she relates her family’s learning experiences at A Mom’s Quest to Teach since 2015.