When I first began homeschooling, I had a 4-year-old pre-K student, a 2-year-old, and a 3-month-old baby. That phase of life was sweet but also quite full! Everyone needed me for everything all of the time. Without some sort of a homeschool routine, I felt like I was running on a hamster wheel.
Here are some things I wish I had known when I first developed a homeschool routine with multiple littles.
Have Reasonable Expectations
Evaluate how much time you need to devote to homeschooling. You can give a child a high-quality preschool education in thirty minutes a day. Kindergarten takes about an hour per day in my family.
If you have all young children, you probably don’t have any independent learners. This is developmentally normal! However, this is something to factor into your expectations. If you have a kindergartener (1 hour) and a preschooler who is doing a separate learning time (30 minutes), then you have 90 minutes total that need to be allocated to school. Math and language arts need to be taught separately, regardless of the children’s ages, so time must be allocated for that as well.
Build in Some Buffer Time
There will be interruptions. You will redirect your child to the task at hand over and over again. Your toddler will get into mischief. Your baby will decide to cut his nap short.
None of these things mean that you are failing or that you aren’t cut out for homeschooling. They are normal. Let me say that again – it is normal to have interruptions!
If you’ve concluded that you have 90 minutes of homeschooling to do, give yourself 2 hours. If you finish early, then that is wonderful. If it takes you all two hours because of interruptions, then that is also fine!
Think outside the box with your school schedule. In the future, you might like to do all of the schoolwork in the mornings. If you have nappers, it might be less frustrating to homeschool during afternoon naptime.
As a second-generation homeschooler, this was difficult for me to accept. Schoolwork after lunch felt like cruel and unusual punishment. But when I tried it, I had to admit that homeschooling was much easier with a sleeping baby or toddler than it was with an awake baby or toddler!
Be Gentle with Yourself
Parenting a family of all young children is a massive undertaking, and homeschooling adds another layer of responsibilities. If there is any possible way you can take something else off of your plate or streamline your home management, do it.
I switched to using Walmart Pickup exclusively when I first started homeschooling. It was so much easier than hauling three kids through the store to pick out my own grocery items.
Small changes to lighten your load benefit you and the entire family. A less stressed parent is a happier parent.
Homeschooling has a learning curve. Reasonable expectations, building in buffer time, and being gentle with yourself aid in the transition.