5 Tips For Homesteaders to Homeschool From Behind
The first thing I want to say here is that there is no such thing as being behind when you are homeschooling. You are where you are, your kids are where they are supposed to be and that’s OK.
Even if your 13 yr old isn’t reading fluency, that’s OK. I know it’s stressful, I don’t want to diminish that.
I have been there, lying awake at night wondering if I’m hurting my kids by homeschooling them, if the schools can teach them better and how to solve the learning issues we’re having.
It’s all still going to be OK.
What got me through those times was to tell myself that they won’t be 20 yrs old and still not _______ (fill in the blank: reading, adding, multiplying, writing, etc). They just won’t. Relationships are so important and if you can maintain your relationship through this stressful time, they will find the motivation to learn whatever skill they are lacking. Kids want to rise up and they will if given the space and safety to do that.
Now that some fears may be dismissed, let’s get to the reason why you’re here. To learn how to homeschool when homesteading life gets busy.
We’ve all been there.
Whether it’s spring babies being born, getting the garden in, harvest and preserving time, 4H fair time, or any type of unforeseen crisis, homesteading can be very busy. Animals don’t wait to have their babies until we’re done with our homeschool, unfortunately. I know I’ve asked myself over the 20 years we’ve been living this homesteading life, if I’m doing OK because we didn’t do school yet again.
So, here are some tips to get through these times.
Tip #1: Schedules, Structures, Routines
I know, I have talked about this topic so much, but it’s literally what saved my homeschool! Scheduling has helped me over the years when I felt chaos looming.
If you have any type of homeschool schedule, structure, or routine in place, this is the time to lean into that. What I mean by that, is to let your schedule guide you, rely on it, use it to help keep you propped up during these busy homesteading days.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
You just came in from assisting your goat with her first birth. It went fine, but was stressful for a while. And of course, she picks supper time to have her babies!
You are tired, worn out from the adrenaline rush and you still have hungry mouths to feed. Oh, and it’s 8 pm, way past normal supper time.
But, you have many systems in place to help you through this time. You go to your meal planner where you have 3 months of meals planned out and find something simple to cook for dinner.
The thinking has already been done for you. You just have to implement.
Spaghetti is on the menu. Perfect, easy and quick. While you get your water boiling, you notice the dishes need to be done and there is a pile of Legos and doll clothes strewn all over the floor.
So, you walk to the chore chart, where you have your chore system already planned, your kids have been trained to that system and the thinking and work have already been done for you.
You see that it’s your 7 yr old’s night to clean the living room and it’s your 10 yr old’s night for dishes. They get to work while you finish up supper. You also see that it’s laundry day, but you are way too tired. So you’ll rearrange the laundry days tomorrow when everyone is more rested.
That’s the flexibility of having systems in place.
If you have taken the time to plan, implement and train your children to these systems, you will be able to deal with whatever comes your way and not get bogged down in housework, cooking or other tasks that nag at us especially hard during times of crisis or excess busyness.
Would you like more help with schedules?
I have a complete Organized Homeschool Pack
to get you going.
Tip #2: Get Creative With Homeschooling
Regardless of whether you are homesteading or not, you are a busy homeschool mom. I understand. We are all just so darn busy!
Being creative with your homeschooling can help you during times of excess busyness or if a crisis hits your life. If you are really concerned about your child missing academics, thinking outside the box can really help you.
You can do school anywhere, and anything can be school. You don’t have to be sitting at your kitchen table in order for your kiddos to learn! The beauty of homeschooling is that you can do it anywhere at any time.
- If your child needs to work on their addition facts, have them recite their facts to you while you are mucking out stalls.
- If your child needs extra reading help, have them read the feed bags to you while you organize them or scoop out the grain.
- Maybe your child needs to learn their multiplication tables, so have them multiply how many hooves you need to clip.
- Discuss their literature book with them while you clean the chicken coop.
- Have them write about their experience with your latest animal birth on your phone or later when you can catch your breath.
There are many ways to incorporate actual academic learning into your homesteading days. You could even stay on track in some instances with your actual curriculum!
You can do this!
Tip #3: Homesteading Is Homeschooling
Let’s start out by reviewing the “Why” behind our homeschooling journey.
Most of us are doing this lifestyle, especially as homesteaders who homeschool, because we want our children to experience LIFE! All of life: nature, animals, hard work, physical labor, rewards, loss, growing food, being independent.
That is why we are homeschooling. Sure, we could put our kids in school all day and get so much more done, but that is not our goal.
We want more than that for our children.
Because of that vision, when homesteading life gets busy, we can feel secure and confident in just bringing our kids along for the ride with us. My children have learned so much more than they would have in school.
They have learned how to pick up slack when someone is sick, how to care for living creatures and sacrifice for something greater than themselves.
They have learned animal husbandry skills, the loss of losing a beloved animal and the rewards of beating your opponent at the fair.
They have learned that life is hard and nature is unforgiving, but living in harmony with animals, the land, your food, is so worth the lack of sleep and friends.
They have learned how to balance their lives. Their work ethic is strong and even as adults, they are working and loving life, feeling good about being a productive member of society.
Our relationships are strong because when you labor together for a common goal, it’s bonding. So even if we don’t pick up a math book or write a story, we are always learning and coming out better people on the other side.
And the crisis, the busy times, or whatever is keeping you from school, is temporary. You will move through his time and be able to come back to that math book or story. But your kids will be stronger in character, stronger in their mind and have more love in their hearts when they do sit back down at the kitchen table for formal homeschool lessons.
And THAT is our goal!
Tip #4: Don’t Over Plan
Be mindful of how you plan out activities.
Take some time to sit down and really look at your calendar and figure out where you need more margin in your homeschool days, or life in general. Try to do this while you can focus and not do other tasks.
I do not plan anything during kidding season. So for 3 months, my kids don’t do sports, classes, activities, pretty much nothing.
If a history fair happens to fall during that time, we just don’t do it. That is part of life, especially the homesteading lifestyle. Your animals are the priority and they need you. Yes, the history fair is a great learning opportunity for your child, but the animals always come first.
If there is absolutely something that has to happen during a busy homesteading season, plan it out ahead of the time period. Using our history fair example, if my daughter absolutely had to do it, I would have her complete everything before kidding season started, so all we had to do was go to the event.
That would free us up to be on call for our goats, but also able to attend the fair.
Of course, my child would still know that if the goat is in active labor during the history fair time, she still would not go.
Again, that is life and why our kids tend to have strong characters. These disappointments teach them a thing or two!
Another way to deal with this, is to plan your breeding schedule/gardening/harvest around busy homeschool times.
My daughter is on the traveling homeschool basketball team. The traveling required that she was only home for 4 days out of a 3 week time period! I knew this was going to be the case, so in the fall, when breeding our goats, I tried to time it so we didn’t start kidding until this excessive busy time was over.
That is not always possible, I know. Animals come into heat when they want, it seems, and you have to be ready for that. But if possible, keep this in mind.
It’s very easy to do when planning your garden or harvest. You can freeze your harvest until you can come back to it. I’ve frozen tomatoes for months and canned them during the winter before.
When you know you’re going to be busy, do not over-commit yourself or your kids. This will give you some margin to work within your life and keep you from feeling extra stressed or guilty.
Tip #5: How to Catch Up In Homeschool Fast
Even though I strongly believe in everything I just said: that it’s ok to be behind in homeschool, that homesteading is homeschooling, that your kids are always learning.
Yes, while those are true, it’s also true that as homeschooling moms, we can get stressed if the curriculum is not getting finished. It’s a loose end just dangling out there that can stress some of us out!
Ask me how I know!
If this is the case for you, don’t worry! I have some ideas to help you get caught up and back on track with your formal homeschooling lessons.
You know what your kids know. If they already understand how to add by 3’s, then skip any review questions that have to do with that concept.
If you know that learning decimals and fractions is going to be really tough for them, skip all of those lessons and stay with something simpler until you can find the time to come back. So maybe during the winter is when you go backward in the math book and tackle fractions and decimals when you can have time to focus.
You could technically complete the math book, but knowing you have this section to finish up. It can seem less daunting that way.
This strategy will also work for grammar, spelling, reading and writing. History and science need to be done in order, usually, so skipping around will not be beneficial for those subject areas.
For those subjects, just keep on doing what you can every day. You don’t have to finish the book. Even public school kids don’t finish their books.
If it’s still too much, take an hour one day and find some history read alouds that go with your time period and just read to your kids. You could also get some on audiobook and listen while you muck out stalls.
Read my review on free homeschool curriculum.
Incorporate More Fun
We all learn best when learning is fun, so try to incorporate more hands-on or other fun activities into your homeschool.
- Instead of using the math book to learn facts, use flashcards or online platforms like Quizlet.
- Or read this post about outdoor activities to get some more ideas.
- Instead of learning vocabulary with a book or curriculum, ditch the book and use flashcards to play games like Slap Jack or hopscotch. I have a Latin flashcard pack that has flashcards and game ideas included!
- You can also do spelling words in shaving cream, with dry erase on the window or with sidewalk chalk outside.
- Instead of writing a book report, how about your child interviews the main character of the story and records it on your phone?
There are so many ways to find fun in learning! Pinterest is also a great help!
Double Up On School
This is may not be popular with your kids or even you. That’s OK. If it’s not for you, just keep scrolling.
But there have been times when we were so far behind that I have had to double up on school. Again, it’s just part of life and sometimes we have to buckle down and do things we don’t want to do.
I always tell my kids ahead of time that this is happening, so they aren’t caught off guard. You’ll get better cooperation from them. Of course, if it will cause more stress or if they are very young, it might also discourage them.
You know your kids best!
Doubling up on school may require more time during the day, so be prepared for that with easier meals, don’t pick a busy homesteading season, such as planting or harvest, and try to go into it with compassion for your kids.
They won’t want to do extra school, and that’s OK, but they also deserve grace during this time.
You can structure it in many different ways:
You can do 2 lessons for every subject each day. I would not suggest that, but it’s possible and effective. My kids would be very burnt out if we did this.
Block scheduling is an easier way to double up on school. Here’s an example:
|Monday, Wed, Friday||Math, Reading, Science|
|Tuesday, Thursday||Writing, History|
Options to implement:
- Do 2 lessons of each subject on MWF
- Or do math on M, reading on W, and science on F, all day
- Do writing on T, history on Th all day
You could still do half days but get ahead this way. Do this for however many weeks you need until you’re caught up.
Another way to accomplish this is to extend your weeks into Saturday. That’s not popular for anyone but may be necessary for a couple of weeks.
Remember, all of this is only temporary, unless you really love it then keep doing it!
Another thing to think about is to double up on school before the chaos starts.
If you have planned busyness, such as kidding season, you could get more school done ahead of time, maybe double up on math on Monday, reading on Tues, writing on Wed, etc.
You would still do your normal homeschool subjects, just adding in an extra lesson each day to get ahead a little bit.
You could also incorporate the block scheduling as described above to get ahead.
Of course, this won’t work if you have a crisis that hits out of nowhere.
Overall, being a homesteader homeschooler can be difficult, but has many unique rewards. I wouldn’t change this lifestyle for anything, and I’m sure you wouldn’t either.
Thank you again for being here! I really appreciate your time. Please let me know how else I can serve you!
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