For a long time now my little family has been living in survival mode. You could say I’m becoming an expert at homeschooling through stressful times. We’re scraping by as I try to make enough to support my family and keep our home in one of the most expensive places in the U.S. on one small income. My husband is disabled so I had to take on multiple jobs. Luckily they are flexible so I could continue to homeschool as well as care for my husband. Working while homeschooling is not easy, but it was important to all of us to do what we had to to continue. On top of that it seems like one tragedy after another, family members passing away, cars needing repairs, and on and on.
How do I homeschool when life is in chaos?
Tips for homeschooling through stressful times:
I relaxed on academics.
I read up on unschooling, and though I don’t like labels and don’t attempt to follow unschooling to any extreme lengths, I do believe children will learn and find ways to learn more on their own. I do get stressed about math and reading, are my kids learning enough? So how do I diffuse my anxiety before it turns into a complete breakdown?
I remind myself that:
- Kids will learn
- I am a guide and mentor, more than a “teacher”
- Knowing “how” to learn is more important than “what”
- My kids have plenty of time to explore their passions and learn who they are.
- They are learning family is one of the most important things there is.
- They are learning how to work hard
- They are learning not to take things for granted
- They are learning to appreciate what they have
As I have to work hard, I often feel guilty that I can’t spend the time I want with my kids.
I can’t take them to every homeschooling gathering and educational activity happening in town. But, they see how hard I work, especially when working in my home. They are learning great work ethics such as self motivation, determination, goal setting, organization, and so much more just by watching me.
I can’t play every game or take every trip with them, but I can be a role model and example. I could grumble and complain, show my anger and frustration (which everyone goes through at times) or I can show enthusiasm for my work. I can share my excitement when I accomplish something and show my kids how proud I am of them for supporting my need to work, in turn helping their family, by taking care of their things, picking up, playing quietly when I have to concentrate, being patient, etc.
I found self directed curriculum
I do projects and play educational games with my kids when I can, but as my time for teaching is limited, I have found some online learning games they can play on their own that are self directed, such as Reading Eggs, Math Seeds, and Teach Your Monster to Read as well as a couple workbooks they can do. Neither like to do workbooks alone, though, they are not nearly as fun.
Or I send them off to learn with a friend.
I have lots of homeschooling friends in this community and I can sometimes trade times to watch kids or for them to take my kids on a field trip with other homeschoolers (see How to Create a Homeschool Community). There are plenty of classes and clubs, too. I can’t afford any at the moment, but we’ve had our fair share of trying new things.
If it is important to you, you find a way to make it work. With our lives in upheaval, though it can be very stressful and the biggest advice I can give is to try to relax. Your kids are learning all the time. Don’t overwhelm yourself or your kids trying to get through workbooks or keep up with grade levels in hard times. I find that my kids fall behind grade level in certain areas and then once they are ready to understand a concept, leap ahead quickly. Learning is not a steady line up. It’s up a little, then steady, then up a giant leap, then steady for a while. Allow your kids to learn at their own pace. Trust that they are learning even when you don’t have tangible proof or letter grades to tell you so.
I keep in mind the most important part of life.
It is not “school work” it is caring for each other. Growing in compassion, love, and a desire to help others. If my kids are learning those things, the rest is a distant second that we’ll get to in time. If you had a family member pass away, a new baby born, a change in living situation, or any other big life change that is causing stress, take a step back from your regular schooling and focus on your family. There is so much to learn just by living life and getting through changes together.