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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?