Monday, January 31, 2011

Schooling when Mama's not up to it

For whatever reason, sometimes there are periods of time when Mom just can't be devoting normal amounts of time to homeschooling.  Pregnancy and a new baby are key times, but certainly not the only ones.  Serious illness, depression, caregiving for other family members, accidents -- there are lots of times when Mom could be out of commission for a chunk of time.

How do you keep going?

This week's Blog Cruise asks about homeschooling during pregnancy or with a newborn.  It's been a few years since I've been in that situation, so I wasn't going to respond.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I do have some contingency plans and maybe I do have a bit to say.

First and foremost -- there are two main types of situations where Mom will struggle to homeschool.  Ones you know are coming, and ones where you don't know until it happens.

And there are different homeschooling scenarios -- you may be homeschooling rather young children (2nd grade and younger), or you may be homeschooling middle-grade students (3rd-6th or so), or you may have jr/sr high students.

For younger students, my advice would be mostly to chill out and not worry about it.  Sure, make sure you are able to do the bare minimum to fulfill state laws.  But if you have advance warning, pulling out a stack of Magic Schoolbus videos from the library, subscribing to an online program like Time 4 Learning for a time, getting hold of a stack of audiobooks... There is nothing wrong with a period of TV and computer based teaching.  And no guilt allowed.  Really.  They will probably learn a ton.

For those middle students, it can be a bit tougher.  I wouldn't tend to totally chill out, but still... the library has a lot of great educational videos, there are a lot of great web-based programs that would be amazing for a month or two, and a lot of stuff really can wait.  Of course, if you can schedule things so they take time off when you need them to, so much the better.  But if not, shelve the teacher-intensive math program and have them drill math facts.  Skip teacher-intensive anything and substitute something the kids can self-teach.

For the older students, I'd sit down with them one-on-one and see what idea THEY have.  Maybe they will suggest putting off a subject for a month and focusing instead on something they can do fairly independently.  Maybe they could use an online math program.  Maybe there is something they've been wanting to research, and doing a unit on that on their own would be perfect.  Maybe this is the perfect time for a Home Ec credit.

What I wouldn't want to do with an older student is to "just relax" though.  Unless, of course, it is their serious illness, which is a different situation.  But an older student should be able to take on nearly sole responsibility for at least some chunk of their education.  Give them that opportunity.

I'd bet that my fellow crewmates have a lot of amazing advice though, and their probably addresses pregnancy and new babies a lot more specifically.  Go.  Check them out.  I'll try to remember to do a direct link when it is up.


FairyLover said...

Magic School Bus and Time4Learning were great resources for us while I was battling cancer. My little guy was 6 when I was diagnosed. We loved time4learning so much we're still using it.

Kathi Sewing, Knitting, Candle Making, Homeschooling Mama

Tess said...

I like that you brought up other situations instead of just the pregnancy part. I agree that an older student shouldn't just "relax" and that they should be given the opportunity to do some independent study. You gave some great suggestions.

Anonymous said...

I see time 4 learning but how about clever island.... ;)