As a homeschool mom with three kids, I try to make sure that we don’t turn school into horrible drudgery for the kids. Part of what I try to be mindful of is that life is all about ebb and flow, and it’s okay if one week with school work doesn’t look like another week.
During stormy weeks with Abbie, I learned quickly that doing school looked a little different and that I needed to approach these weeks with care or everyone ended up miserable and frustrated. Honestly, that’s just not how I like to do things, so I came home with a system for getting things done without killing us all and making everyone unhappy and frustrated.
Of course, it’s not just the stormy weeks that are a problem, but they’re the biggest obstacle I have when it comes to baby-interrupted school time. You can read more about the stormy weeks, how we know they’re coming, and other ways we deal with them that aren’t related to homeschooling here.
Structured Independent Playtime
Rug time is an amazing tool for young children (like Logan who is almost 4) who need structure so they don’t create chaos and destruction around the house all the time. While I’m stuck nursing pretty much all day long, rug time and other forms of structured independent play time help keep the middle child happy, which makes everyone’s life easier.
Do extra art time
We love our art time here, but honestly it’s the one subject that I don’t care if we skip out on when we’re done a lot of reading and math. My oldest is 7 right now, so we are doing a lot of reading practice to get her to the point of reading independently, and that’s my primary focus for this school year. I also know that when we have leap weeks, we do a lot of art time which more the men makes up for the times we skip out throughout our regular school days.
DVD & movie curriculum
At this young age, I don’t mind when my kids learn extracurricular subjects from the TV. We have a curriculum called Exploring Music which is a DVD series that teaches music concepts. The episodes are 25ish minutes each, and the kids enjoy them. During regular school days they do a lesson each day. During leap weeks they may even do two, depending on how things are going.
I also like shows like DIY Sci on Amazon Prime Videos where they can watch experiments and learn about science concepts in a fun way, but really anything that encourages my kids in the STEM department is a good thing in my book!
Even when we aren’t in a stormy week, both of the older kids use the Logic of English Phonogram practice app, which has been a real asset for us. It helps Autumn work on phonograms she needs to master, and helps teach Logan to give him a baseline as he’s starting to learn to read. We do that in addition to our book work, but on days when I don’t get to the book work because the baby is being difficult or we’re busy in the garden or running a lot of errands, we can still use the app for an easy way to review.
Movies and screen time in general isn’t my favorite way to educate, but on occasion when I want to make sure they’re busy and learning, it works in a pinch!
We also occasionally stop “regular” school activities to do a unit study for a day or two. We go to the library to get some books on a subject, watch a Magic School Bus episode that’s related, throw in a documentary and some art projects and have fun with it. Unit studies are great ways to take a break from our normal routine while still educating, and they also give me a chance to let my kids pick their own areas of interest. Recently we learned about wildfires, because Autumn was listening to Little House on the Prairie and we were discussing them. She got curious, so we did a unit study.
Stormy weeks don’t have to be misery when you’re a homeschooling family. Really, the biggest thing is to be flexible, and to give enough structure that the big kids get some things done, but also make sure the baby gets what they need as well.
Obviously as Abbie gets bigger, I won’t be tied to the couch so much when she’s comfort nursing during a leap, but for now this is what we’re doing to make it work.