Our guest contributor today, Leah Courtney from As We Walk Along the Road, shares her tips on how to homeschool with a new baby.
When my youngest child was born, I had three others- ages six, five, and not yet two. My two oldest children were “school-aged.” I was ready and excited to continue homeschooling them. But I was also having a baby.
When my third child had come into the family, the oldest two were only three and four. Schoolwork didn’t really seem that important then because we were just doing fun, easy-going preschool work. Continuing homeschooling after her birth just didn’t worry me.
But my fourth child was due at the beginning of August in the year that my oldest would officially be a first grader. And my second, although only five, was ready for first-grade work as well. And I was worried. How was I going to homeschool two children, wrangle a toddler, and adjust to the birth of a fourth child?
If you’re finding yourself with the prospect of trying to homeschool with a new baby, I have words of hope for you, my friend. I survived and successfully- at least most of the time- homeschooled after the birth of my child. And you, too, can homeschool with a new baby. Here are five things that helped me to navigate homeschooling while caring for a newborn.
Five Tips To Help You Homeschool with a New Baby
Have realistic expectations.
After the birth of a child, there are adjustments in every part of your life. Homeschooling is no exception. There is no way that you are going to jump right back into homeschooling with no pause and no changes right after you have a new baby. It just isn’t going to happen.
So be sure to have realistic expectations. Know that things are going to change. Know that you’re going to have to take time off of homeschooling. Know that your other children are going to need time to adjust. And, know that the flow and schedule of your day are going to be different. When you have realistic expectations, you’ll be less frustrated.
Prepare your older children.
Any time that you add another baby into the mix you know that you’re going to need to prepare the older children for the baby. For most parents, this means talking about a little brother or sister, showing your preschooler how you’re going to take care of the new baby using a baby doll, and discussing with your kids what a newborn baby can and can’t do.
For a homeschooling family, this preparation needs to extend to preparing your kids for how your homeschool is going to work with the new baby.
- Are you going to take some time off?
- Will you be working with a different curriculum?
- What will you expect the kids to do with homeschooling while you’re actually giving birth and recovering?
- Will you have anyone coming in to help with homeschooling?
The more you can tell your kids about what is going to be happening, the more prepared they will be, and the more smoothly this transition time will go.
Be flexible about when and where homeschooling happens.
One of the biggest changes that usually happens when you homeschool with a new baby is that you have to adjust the timing- and sometimes the location- of your homeschooling. If the baby needs to be fed or changed, that takes priority. Older kids may have to wait for you to come work with them. The kids may need to move to the couch or your bedroom and do schoolwork while you nurse the baby.
You may need to give your whole homeschool schedule an overhaul. The year that my youngest was born was the year we began homeschooling year round. This meant that we could homeschool through the summer- June and July- and then take the month of August off when the youngest was born.
Babies need to be held, need to be fed, need to be rocked, and need to be walked. This means you’re going to need to be creative about how you’re accomplishing homeschooling. Wearing the baby in a sling can be a lifesaver. This keeps baby close to you, allows for easy breastfeeding, and soothes a fussy baby, all while keeping your hands free to help the older kids with schoolwork.
Does the baby do well in a swing? Move the swing or bouncy seat into the schoolroom or wherever you do school.
Does the outdoors distract a fussy baby? (I had one that only wanted to be in the swing, outside!) Take the older kids outside, put the baby in a swing, and do schoolwork outdoors.
Think outside the box. And don’t worry if the way homeschooling looks in your house doesn’t seem “normal.” If homeschooling is happening and kids are learning, it doesn’t matter if your style is a little… less conventional.
Realize that homeschooling is a lifestyle.
One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that school doesn’t have to happen in a particular place at a particular time of day. Our kids are learning all the time. They are learning through the real-life experiences they have every day, as well as through actual curricula and book work.
This means that it’s okay if your homeschooling isn’t happening the way you hoped after the birth of a new baby. Learning can be happening as your older kids help you take care of the baby, as they take turns reading to each other as you rock the baby, and as they learn how to make their own lunches and help around the house. All of those are learning experiences.
The birth of a new child is a precious time, although it can be stressful as well. Take the time to enjoy this new life without worrying about how homeschooling is going to happen. These five things can help you to homeschool successfully after the birth of that newest family member.
How to Homeschool in the Midst of the Hard Things Series
This is day 21 of the Homeschooling in the Midst of Hard Things Blog Series. We are so glad you are here! Check out the rest of the series by clicking the banner below.
Leah Courtney is a child of God, wife, mother, and homeschooling mama. She’s homeschooled four children since birth and is now the mother of two homeschool graduates. In her (very rare) free time, Leah loves to read and color complicated pictures while listening to audio books. You can find her blogging at As We Walk Along the Road where she’s posting literature-based homeschooling resources and encouragement for other homeschooling mamas.