Balancing Working From Home With School At Home
Are you trying to balance working from home with homeschooling kids? It’s hard, right? Here are some things that I hope can help!
Know It’s Possible
First of all, know that working from home and schooling at home are both possible. It’s true! In the almost three decades that I’ve been homeschooling my ten (yes, 10!) kids, I’ve written over 70 books. I’ve also learned a lot along the way.
When I first started homeschooling, I had an idea of what it would look like. But I still had questions. What were the homeschool basics I’d need to know? With no one to guide me, I did what I assumed was the norm–I ordered a huge box of curriculum, bought old school desks, and prepared to do school in my home. That started out alright, but I’ve learned so many things along the way that have made our journey more successful.
Now, I teach my children at the kitchen table, and I think they’re getting a great education. We don’t have a dedicated school room, and, yes, there is a multiple student-to-teacher ratio, but those things don’t seem to matter. Those things don’t impact how well my children learn. My kids live in a learning environment, which means their education continues long after we clock out of our school hours.
So, what’s the key to balancing working from home and helping your kids with school? Let me share what I’ve learned through many years of trial and error.
Intentional Windows of Time
Schedule windows of time that keep things moving. I wake up before my kids just so I can have an hour (sometimes more) of uninterrupted work before they get up. During this time I might sit outside on my porch and drink a cup of tea while I pray or read my devotional for the day. On some days I know I have to start with a writing project I need to finish. Just having this first time of the day set aside for myself gives me the peace to move forward as a work-at-home and school-at-home mom.
When they get up, I help my kids get ready and give them individualized attention for about three hours. After that, they can usually work independently, and I do my work as they continue working on their own. It’s impossible to do both at once so don’t set yourself up for frustration or failure. It’s okay to exclude one or the other at certain times.
3 Ways to Help Kids Stay Motivated To Do School Work
As we move through the days ahead I find one question seems to be repeated–how do I keep kids motivated to do their school work day in and day out? Here are some things I’ve found help keep kids moving in the right direction and getting things accomplished.
1. Create Incentives
Everyone likes to look forward to a special treat. Tell your child that if they can do 45 minutes of work, they can help you bake cookies or some other activity they will look forward to. If kids know something fun is coming, they are more likely to do the work you’re asking them to do. My children enjoy playing board games with me. If I want to motivate them through a particularly difficult section of study sometimes I will let them chose a game in advance. When they get discouraged or distracted I can remind them that I’m looking forward to playing the game with them. Building excitement helps keep them focused on the task at hand.
2. Approach Work Creatively
For assignments that don’t involve written work that has to be turned in, don’t be afraid to let them do the work differently. For instance, if your daughter has to answer a set of questions but doesn’t have to turn in the written work, sit down with her and ask her the questions out loud, and ask her to just speak her answers back to you. Not everything has to be written down for your child to learn. This is especially helpful for auditory learners.
For children with extra energy, let them stand, jump, or walk through the house while reciting the answers or subject they’re studying. Can you take a walk around the block and identify colors, numbers, or plants that might apply to their school work? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to learning. The more ways you can integrate the topic into their lives, the more chance that the information will embed itself deeply into their brains. That’s a well-rounded education!
3. Take A Break
You, and your child, both need breaks! For younger children, don’t try to work for longer than 25-30 minutes without giving them a break. Even traditional school days are broken up into “chunks” of learning and breaks. The older the child, the longer the chunks of learning can be. No one expects you or your child to sit eight hours a day in strict reading, writing, or arithmetic lessons. That would be mind-numbing.
Even parents need a break during the day. Can you have older kids step in to supervise younger kids during art, music, or reading? Break up subjects with educational videos on the topic to give everyone a mental break. Could your child call a grandparent or family friend who might be able to talk with them about a subject while you load the dishwasher or have an afternoon cup of tea?
Even a five-minute walk around the yard, or ten minutes to check Instagram, can give you a mental reset you both need to start again fresh and ready to tackle the next subject. Never underestimate the power of closing the door to your bedroom for five minutes to pray.
Balancing Working From Home With School At Home
Although you might be facing fear and anxiety about schooling at home, don’t dwell on those feelings. The most important thing to remember during this time is that what your children need most is your love and support. Learning can take place in many ways. But if our kids feel loved and safe, they will continue to excel during this (and any other) situation that comes along. Remember, you are your child’s biggest fan–show them you believe in them and that you’re there to help them through this. Together, we will succeed!
Here are more resources I think will help you as you work at home and school at home:
My Stay Home Journals Help Kids Focus on Good Things
During this time, kids need a place to think, write, or draw what is going on in their hearts and minds so I created these journals to provide kids a special place to record their experiences. I like the sound of “stay home.” It’s a way to focus on the good during a hard time. It’s a great way to help your kids think about what good things may be happening during this time and what they are looking forward to when it’s “safe” for us to return to normal life.
You can find all the journals I’ve created here: Stay Home Journals
Free Stay Home Journal: https://bit.ly/
Free Resources (Not just for kids!)
My team has put together a list of over 200 amazing resources and courses for you. This is a load of great education for all ages. From the tiny tots to the parents, there are some wonderful sites on this PDF. Yes, you can go to the Smithsonian, tour Yellowstone, or travel to Paris without leaving home!
I’m especially looking forward to every Wednesday, where there will be free, online, worship-painting classes with Blossoming Hearts Studio on Facebook. And don’t forget about the free Lamplighter audiobook too!
The list also has sites for every homeschooling subject you can imagine. Pass this on and share it with your friends: Free Resources for The Whole Family.pdf
Hope and Refreshment for Homeschooling Parents
Need more ideas and advice on homeschooling? Pick up a copy of Homeschool Basics. Receive tried-and-true homeschool advice from veteran homeschooling moms Tricia Goyer and Kristi Clover. We dish out practical help on getting started and staying the course. Homeschool Basics will remind you that the best homeschooling starts with the heart. Packed with ideas to help you push aside your fears and raise kids who will grow to be life-long learners.
Kristi and I believe that homeschooling can transform your life, your home, and your family. Mostly, we believe homeschool can truly prepare your children for the life God’s called them to live.
Advice and Encouragement for Schooling At Home
Are you struggling with finding hope and help for school at home? I recently talked with Focus on The Family and offered my thoughts and experience with being a homeschool mom of over 25 years. You may have fear and anxiety during this time, I understand and I want to help you get your own heart-centered so you can have peace and be the best parent and teacher you can.
Listen in to my Interview on Focus on the Family
And here’s a PDF with more Work-at-Home Tips!