How to Survive Homeschooling – a Guest Post by Brooke and Nathan Bubna

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{I’m very proud of all my kids and admire their dedication to their children. Both Jess and Nate and Brooke and Nathan homeschool. Since I’m in Africa this week, I asked my oldest son and his wife to write this post. This blog is full of some great and helpful advice. Enjoy!}Homeschool 2Homeschooling is wonderful. It is a great way to spend more time bonding with and enjoying your children. The extremely low student-teacher ratio of your home is delightfully efficient, giving your kids more time to be kids instead of just students stuck at a desk. It adds a lot of flexibility to family life, letting you avoid weekend crowds at the local zoo, museums, or water parks.

Homeschooling, however, is also very challenging. You know how easy and fun it is to get your kids to put down their toys to do chores? Well, homeschool adds more of that but with higher stakes. After all, who worries about their child’s laundry habits as much as their academic success?

When you take on full responsibility for their education, it can add new dimensions of stress to your nagging. And, of course, there’s the added difficulty of trying to do school in the place where your children feel freest and keep all of their favorite distractions.

Finally, for those who are outnumbered by their children, you have challenges like reading to the kindergartener, being interrupted by the 4th-grader with a question about their math worksheet, while the preschooler is singing loudly in the other room and the baby just woke up early from her nap. Oh, and if you don’t start making lunch soon, everyone will be hungry and someone will surely have a meltdown. Probably you.

So here are some things we’ve learned that help us survive:

1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

There’s no rule that says you have to do it on your own. If things are not working, you don’t need to just tough it out and hope it gets better. Take steps to address the tough spots. Ask yourself what the problem is and what would make it easier.

With a new baby and kids in all different stages of education, we realized a little help would go a long way. We ended up hiring an older homeschool student to come once a week for an hour to work with our oldest daughter, while the boys do their quiet time. It doesn’t sound like much, but it really has been a huge relief.

The blessing of grandparents, if you have them in town, is also never to be underestimated! And failing all that, schedule playdates to occupy a kid or two while you focus on a different one.

2) Organization is worth the work.

Brooke, who does the vast majority of the homeschooling, will admit she is not an organized person by nature, however much she adores that ability. Homeschooling has been an education for her in this area with both talented friends and books as her teachers.

One particularly helpful book, year after year, is Managers of Their Home. It teaches you how to budget your day, so that you spend it well. It is labor intensive so you may find it better suited for a summer project.

If books aren’t your thing, the simple advice is to at least create a daily checklist for yourself and your kids that reflects your yearly goals for their development. This is ten minutes well-spent. Once your kids are readers, they can check off their own list as they work through it.

3) Community is priceless.

Don’t do all your homeschooling at home. Go out with your kids and find other families to make this journey with! Anything from art classes at the community center to full-blown homeschool co-ops will bring joy and friendship to you and your children. It can both give you refreshing breaks from the home routine even as it helps you to establish a weekly rhythm so that the days don’t all blur together. But the friendships you build out there are the chief reward. Cherish them!

4) It’s okay to relax.

Flexibility is not only one of the key perks of homeschooling. It’s also essential to surviving it. No matter what curriculum you use, each of your kids is different, and each passing year brings different rhythms and challenges to your family.

The efficiency and flexibility of educating your kids at home means it is okay to skip a day here and there or even for a few weeks. For our family, last year was highly disruptive, and there were stretches of weeks where schoolwork was largely ignored. As homeschoolers, we can take that in stride. There is ample time to play catch-up.

Don’t feel like a failure on those days when the only one who worked on your chalkboard checklist was the toddler with the crayons. Bad days are par for the course. And so are snow days and “teacher in-service” days where you stay in your pajamas and the kids spread toys around the house.

The schedule itself is neither the goal nor the measure of success. It is there to serve you, not the other way around.

Sure, it’s not for everyone, but homeschooling can be a great blessing to you and your kids. If it sometimes feels like it’d be easier to just hide in bed all day, ask for help, take a day to organize, do it with friends, and relax. You’re doing fine.

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