Recently, I posted about meeting, in general, the challenge of teaching various ages. I mentioned that so much comes down to me and to my attitude. When I can remain calm, patient, and flexible, our days are smoother and happier.
But, exactly how does one go about achieving that patience and calm? Some days, such as the one I described (in which my four-year-old was dying for glitter) we just wing it and find a middle ground that works for everyone. It’s easier now than it was just a couple of years ago. (Four-year-olds, though mercurial, are much more reasonable than two-year-olds.)
But, a homeschooling mom with a wide variety of ages to deal with needs to have more than just the desire to wing it. She needs some weapons in her arsenal. A basic plan, solid ideas for activities, and a fallback position are essential.
Let’s start with babies. And, let’s go back just a little further: let’s start with the pregnancy. Whether you homeschool or not, preparing for a baby takes a little planning and organizing. Homeschooling through a pregnancy takes even more planning. A homeschooling, pregnant mom is a tired mom. You know you’re going to be tired, and that you may not be able to keep up with your normal routine and activities. How can you adjust your days without depriving your older, school-age children of all that they need?
The Basic Plan
Schedule according to the pregnancy. If you’re always sick in the first trimester, or know that you’ll feel weary down to your bones, that will be the time to schedule as much independent work as you can for your older children. It’s not the time to plan on marathon read-alouds, or you’ll end up as I did when I was pregnant with my last baby. I was trying to keep up with as many read-alouds as we normally did, and kept hearing from my kids, “Mom! What did you say? That didn’t make sense. You’re falling asleep again!”
If you generally feel good in the second trimester, plan to do more than you normally would in those months. Pump up the goals and the workload to make the most of your “best” months.
Don’t wait for inspiration to strike when you need it but can’t carry through. Plan ahead for the down months. Set aside new books that your older children will be able to read independently. Stash away some educational software. Stock up on some favorite videos (or, plan to allow a little extra Animal Planet or Food Network, as some of us have been known to do.)
The Fallback Position
Despite all your planning, things may not go as you hope or foresee. Pregnancy complications could derail the best-laid educational plans. If that happens, don’t despair. Kids are learning all the time, and they truly will learn some valuable lessons from you if you end up sick for nine months, or on bed rest. One of the things they’ll learn is that the precious new life you’re carrying is worth the time and sacrifice it takes to care for it. And that, dear homeschooling mother, is one of the best lessons you can teach your children.