September 5, 2012

Homeschooling During Pregnancy or With a New Baby

Recently, there was a long thread of discussion on a homeschooling list I frequent about an expectant mother who was considering putting her kids back in school due to becoming pregnant again. There were lots of great responses to her message, so I didn't feel it was necessary to share my opinion there. But I've been thinking about it a lot since then, and decided I'd share my thoughts here. :-)

Consider All Implications

My first reaction to the "should-I-send-the-kids-to-school" question-- at least when it's applied to life changes-- is "How will sending the kids to school make your life easier?"

Oftentimes, I'm not sure that we consider ALL the implications that sending our kids away will bring.

For me, I first think about all the helpers I have that would be gone, leaving me alone with a house full of toddlers and preschoolers. Does that really make my life "easier?"

My mind also turns to the realization that by sending my kids to school, I will be giving away my choices in scheduling, because my children and I will now need to conform our daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule over to an outside entity. We will have to answer to strangers who know nothing about our family culture, our lifestyle choices, or rhythms of life. That may not be of concern to others, but it is a huge thing for me.

Another thing to consider will be the changes you will see in your child(ren). Will you miss being a big influence on their daily lives? Are you ready for them to change and adapt to the system you are sending them to belong to? Are you prepared for new friends, possible consumerist ideas, hours of homework where you will still need to help your child (often times for the same or more hours that you would if you homeschooled), philosophies of the world, and time spent away from your influence? (Not to mention worse things that I won't go into here!)

Lastly, what about transportation? Will you need to drive your children to school every day or work with a carpool group? Will you need to walk them to the bus stop? Who is the person driving the bus? What are the ages of the children on the bus? Do you know any of their parents? Will the bus ride be a wholesome, safe place for your child to spend a lot of time on each day?

Lessons in Life

Life is about change-- it's about making mistakes, cleaning messes, learning to be part of a family. It's about overcoming the difficult situations that arise because we are growing and being refined.

And education is actually about being prepared for LIFE! Pregnancy, childbirth and caring for babies are a BIG part of life as a parent. Those situations teach lessons that every adult should learn. And our children will learn those lessons best by watching us.

Yes, a homeschool schedule may have to change when mom is sick, or stuck on the couch nursing. But oftentimes, it is during those changes when relationships are strengthened and families grow closer together. Mom can still read aloud or watch videos with the kids. Even if she can't read aloud, audio books can be listened to, and games can be played. Maybe an older child can take a turn being the reader or the tutor for a while.

The times when mom is down are also excellent gardens for the seeds of life skills to be planted. Young kids can learn to make healthy lunches, to do dishes, and to clean up. Kids can also learn how to answer the phone and take messages. Older children (teen daughters, especially) can help out by potty training toddlers when morning sickness makes the idea impossible for Mom. (My daughters have trained three of my four youngest daughters without my help.) Yes, things might get messier than normal. But I believe the knowledge they gain will be worth it in the end.

Be Creative

When we are willing to look at our circumstances from a fresh perspective, often we can find new ways of doing things that make homeschooling an easier choice for the ups and downs of life, instead of a more difficult one. 

It can be a great time to re-examine our curriculum: 
  • Does it require too much of mom's time and energy? 
  • Is it a program that requires certain hours or outside accountability?
  • Is there a way to adapt the program to fit in more with our "new reality" at home?
  • Can we rearrange lessons to fit better with present circumstances?
  • Is it time for something completely different?

Finding Peace

Yes, when a homeschooling mom is expecting, or has a new baby, things have to change a bit in any homeschool. But when we approach these times with prayer, clear communication with our husbands, an open mind, and a patient heart, these seasons of life can turn out to be some of the biggest educational blessings the Lord gives our families. 

I am so grateful for the many life-changing experiences that the Lord has given our family, and for the new one we are expecting very soon. I have seen much growth and true education among my children, and I am excited to see them approach future parenthood with lots of life-experience and understanding.

Some great articles on this subject:

Rachel is the happy mother of eleven children between the ages of 18 and two years old-- with Baby #12 due around October 1st, 2012! Now in her thirteenth year of homeschooling, she continues to be an enthusiastic advocate for Thomas Jefferson Education principles and has spoken at several homeschool and TJEd conferences. She enjoys Shakespeare and has recently completed an entire Shakespeare curriculum for homeschoolers and homeschool groups, now available at She blogs at Thoughts From The Hearth and at Old Fashioned Motherhood .

4 comments - Add a comment below -:

Heather said...

I have a three month old baby who is baby number 9 and I love the flexibility of homeschool that I have. Plus my children get to be a part of the babies growing up years. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Ive been worrying about this lately.. Im expecting our 4th, my younger 3 are 5,3 and 1.. I was almost convinced that I should send my child to public school then realized that it wouldn't be an answer for us. First, the school is a mile away. We have 1 car and no bus system so Id have to walk her a mile to school, walk a mile home, walk a mile to get her and a mile home again all with 2 (and then 3) other children. Then add to the fact my oldest would be heartbroken if I told her she had to leave her littlest sibling for hours each day (shes very attached to her brother/sisters) and the fight that would be.. Then homework and packing lunches and.. and.. and.. It wouldn't save me any time and it would be upsetting for all the children..
Right now I spend around 2-3 hours each day where I "teach" (which I use loosely ;)) her things each day. A LOT less time and energy then sending her to public school and I have someone to entertain the other two, help cook (her favorite activity) and just be my companion.
After thinking it all through I can't imagine sending her to public school.

Jennifer said...

Agreed! I have been blessed to never have had any complications with pregnancies and/or newborns so I barely skip a beat when we have a new baby. And I love the time we get to all bond with the new baby instead of being separated during such a special time. I don't judge those who send their kids to public school but I personally can't even imagine it!

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate this post. I have considered homeschooling and really want to try it but have worried about whether or not I could do it while continuing to have children. My kids are 7,6,4,3 and 1 and more to come so I want to home school but it scares me. I love the idea of having a more flexible schedule and it bothers me greatly how many hours in a week kids are required to be at school. Thank you for this post, its great food for thought!