Homeschooling with a Newborn

One question I am asked often is how do I manage to homeschool with a newborn? That is a great question!

Homeschooling with a Newborn Strategies:

homeschooling with a newborn by Spell Outloud

Welcoming a new baby into the family is such an exciting time and can be a little tiring. That’s why I have very simple but realistic goals for the first weeks with a newborn. But how do you homeschool and take care of a newborn at the same time? The main thing is to enjoy your newborn first and allow your family to marvel at the wonderful gift of a new family member. When it is time to get back into a routine, be flexible! Here are several strategies I have utilized during various newborn stages through the years:

Take a “baby” vacation break.

Intentionally plan to be on break from school for a couple of weeks after the baby is born. This allows you and your family to concentrate on bonding with the baby, getting rest, and hands-on baby care opportunities for your older children. Don’t get caught up on set dates either. With one of my children I was not able to bounce back quickly. Our baby vacation break lasted longer than I had originally planned, but it was what I needed physically and emotionally. We made up the missed time later in the year when I was feeling better and able to handle things more efficiently.

Outsource Schooling.
 Have dad, grandma, or a friend bring your kids to a local homeschool co-op, YMCA PE class, or other tutoring sessions. This allows your kids the opportunity to keep learning and gives you a little time to rest and not worry about planning lessons.  Another option I am using for my older children is letting them take some online classes. Currently my older children are taking classes at CurrClick.

Read-Aloud Schooling.
Find a couple great chapter books and read aloud for school. There is so much your kids can learn from a good book! Many times I am able to read our books while I am nursing the baby.  You can also use audio books.

Here are a couple read-aloud resources:
Toddler and Preschool books going through the alphabet from Spell Outloud.
Kendra from Preschoolers and Peace has a great list of read-alouds that her family has enjoyed through the years.
So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler has a list of  Top Ten Living History Read-Alouds for Tween Girls.
The Unlikely Homeschool has a list of read-alouds that they are reading in 2013 plus a list for lower to mid- elementary kids.
Cultivated Lives shares how to cultivate read-aloud time with your family.

Delight Directed Schooling.
Use this time to let your kids pursue hobbies and other interest on their own.

Here are several delight directed articles:
So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler: Delight-Directed Learning
Getting Started with Delight-Directed Homeschooling by Jimmie.

Unit Studies.
This is not the time to develop your own unit studies (I’m speaking to myself here as I have the tendency to do that!) Instead, look at already-made unit study options. Unit studies are a nice way to incorporate all subject matters while concentrating on one unifying theme. We have used Amanda Bennett Download and Go Studies in the past. I like to use her studies because most of my kids can do them independently.

Boxed Curriculum and Workbooks.
It might be the season to use a workbook or boxed curriculum in order to get things done. Though my family tends to be a little more ecclectic when it comes to homeschooling, there have been times where it has been helpful to have workbooks for my kids to work from.

Stay at home schooling.
Yes, this sounds absurd, but this might not be the time to sign up for every co-op, field trip, sports activity and learning event. Take a break from all (or most) outside commitments and stay home. This allows you to not have a time-frame where you “have” to be somewhere. If your newborn needs to nurse for an hour you can feel free to do that without worrying that you should be somewhere. If you have a bad night and sleep in, then you can start your day whenever you wake up instead of having pressure to be up and about by a certain time.

Go with the flow schooling.
All of my newborn/young baby stages were so different. In fact, many things changed from week to week. With one child, I dealt with thrush for several months. My main focus at that time was to not hurt while nursing! Some weeks I felt good so we would add a few more learning opportunities during the week. The next week I would feel awful so I would resort back to one of the strategies above. I found that just looking for learning opportunities in our every-day life at the time was enough. With another newborn, it was a breeze to start back schooling- in fact two weeks after she was born we were back at our local co-op. Once that baby hit 2 it was a different story… but that’s another blog post! 😉

baby hands

Mom, can I just say don’t stress out about homeschooling looking a certain way during this time! Yes, there can be some pressure to get it all done (usually the pressure comes from ourselves), but don’t give in to it. The newborn/young baby stage is such a short stage in the long-rage scope of things. Use this time to allow your other kids to learn new independent skills such as getting their own breakfast ready, helping you bathe the baby, learning how to fold laundry etc. When my kids know that I really need help I have found that they step up to the occasion and feel good about contributing to the family in that way. When baby starts to get a little older, then add back more formal learning times to your day.  I love this thought about newborns and homeschooling:

When we think of homeschool, sometimes we get tunnel vision, and think “academics”, “keeping up to speed” and other worrisome concerns that don’t really tell the whole story. Homeschool is the growing and nurturing of fine, upright people. So, how we treat and value the baby really is the lesson. —Diane Hopkins

What tips or advice do you have for moms who are homeschooling with a newborn?

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  1. says

    i love this post, i really….i am nursing my 3 month old rigght now. I have 4 other children, ages Wild-3 up to 12 years old. My question is this: how long is THIS time? I feel like I should be getting into some groove, returning to normal, be able to get things done, but i’m not. 3 months seems like a long time to be in this spot, you know? just wonderings your thoughts and experiences on times!

    • Maureen says

      When my 4yr. old was an infant, I was feeling like you— I shouldn’t be in this phase for so long! It took me a full year with her to get into the groove. She was a terrible sleeper, very needy, and I think I was maybe a little depressed due to lack of sleep. We did the basics for most of the year. Focus on getting you to a healthy spot– whether it is making sure you are getting sleep, good nutrition, or some help with the house/kids. The rest will fall into place once you start feeling better. It’s kind of like when you are on an airplane and they tell you to put the O2 mask on first so that you can help out your kids? The same principle applies. Sometimes you really have to take care of you in order to take care of the rest of the family. Just give yourself some grace and know that you can catch up later in the year.

  2. says

    This is such a great article!
    As a mom of 5, I had the opportunity to learn these lessons over the course of 3 of my babies.

    I’d have to agree that it is entirely too easy to focus on the academics rather than the “whole child”. When I had new babies, I would use those first few weeks to revisit life skills and basic academics. I highly recommend working on math basics ( like memorizing facts), gathering a few great readers and read alouds. My kids needed things to be simpler in order cope with mom being pulled in so many directions. I wish I could say I always handled this short season well, but I did not. Some babies are easier than others. Some seasons are smoother than the next.

    I think you really hit the main point that life with a baby is a bit unpredictable. OK, a lot unpredictable. I would suggest stripping down to minimum academics and on those days that all the stars align break out the glitter!

  3. says

    This was a great article {and comments} to stumble upon. We just had our 7th little one, who is now 4 months old. Our oldest is 10yrs. So we have had many little ones since we’ve been homeschooling. :) None the less, it is hard to remember that it’s okay not to be “doing it all” Co-ops, science projects, extra activities outside of the home, ect. Thanks for the sweet reminders!
    Many Blessings to your sweet family!

  4. says

    Great post! I need this reminder ahead of time so I can brace myself :-) we aren’t officially doing Kindergarten yet but I have a tendency to naturally give myself very very high expectations – haha but at least I know this about myself! Right? :-)

    • Maureen says

      LOL! Yes, then you can prepare to be laid-back. 😉 We are doing K but will most likely end up finishing this summer.

  5. says

    What a wondeful article to write for parents who may be experiencing this at the moment! My children aren’t at home anymore, but when I did homeschool them, I had an infant. (I did have help from a cyberschool, though-wasn’t planning lessons alone) My advice would be to be flexible and patient while adjusting. Teaching can occur at different times throughout the day and with different adults.

  6. Lisa says

    Why does the idea of staying at home for school sound absurd? We spend most days at home rather than schlepping around from activity to activity. It’s so much less stressful. We do activities, but the primary portion of our time is spent at home. I can’t imagine how harried I’d be, newborn or not, running from activity to co-op to library to dance class to karate to this and that and the other. For us it’s definitely not absurd, it’s nice.

  7. says

    What a great post. I just recently started homeschooling which coincided with the birth of our 5th child and to make it work, we basically did each of your suggestions and because of this… it has been low stress and a real pleasure to be a part of my childrens learning in conjunction with welcoming another little treasure into our family. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Lynne Savage says

    Been There. Done that. I have six children only four of which are still schooling. But now I’m working full time and my adult son takes care of the children and makes sure the lessons get done. My youngest one who is 8 however prefers to work with her older sister who is 10. Their natures and personalities fit so well together that she actually gets more done and works very hard to catch up to her big sister.

    You are right that learning comes from many people, circumstances and places. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that the timetable can be set by the family and the family’s needs at the time. We can take a month off at the holidays if we want to and more than that if we need to for the new additions. My philosophy is that if you are learning something you are “doing school” if that means you are practicing spelling words in the car taking the baby to the doctor or letting the children read to each other for practice.

  9. Winny says

    Thank you so much for this article! I’m expecting my third and this would be the first time homeschooling with a newborn, God willing, so I’m a bit apprehensive. Really appreciate the links too

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