Posted in homeschool
So many people say to me, "I just don't see HOW you homeschool with a baby." And I always reply with a snarky, "Oh, I just have really low standards," or "Well, I do it really badly." And truly, I did, although I was sure the end would justify my means and it would all come out in the wash. [I struggle often with mixed metaphors.]
Now I think I've found the secret to homeschooling with a baby. At least a million people have mentioned to me that this is what they do and I just let it go in one ear and out the other. Didn't see how it could work for me. It has taken me two days of just doing it to be pretty sure it works great!
We worked out shifts for babysitting the little guy. One big boy gets him for an hour in the den (usually watching the exhalted Bear Grylls) while the other gets one hour of focused Mommy time. Mommy having had lots of coffee. Mommy away from the distraction of the computer (mostly), the phone, and biggest distraction of all: Baby. Mommy has definitely got a bad case of ADD. Once you interrupt me, you've lost me for an hour. Give me 15 minutes of quiet concentration and I rock. I mean, with 3 hours of concentration, I could probably find the cure for cancer, world hunger, and corruption in government. But I digress. After First Boy gets one hour of uninterrupted Mommy time in a quiet classroom complete with securely closed door, that boy heads on downstairs to take the next shift. He's older, so he has the additional task of providing a snack for baby and starting lunch, so that when Big Boy #2 and I descend the stairs, fully grasping sentence diagramming, multiplying by 10s, etc., I can just kiss and hug baby and put him down for his nap. We hork down our lunches and head back upstairs to have lessons together - baby-free. Often, the baby will sleep for 3 hours, since I leave him in his swing watching HGTV. I figure it is bound to put anyone of the male species straight to sleep.
Of course, the Big Problem with this strategy is that it tacks a whole hour onto the school day. I also worry about not spending enough time with baby. On the other hand, the 2 hours he spends one-on-one with his brothers would be the same 2 hours we'd all be trying to keep him from bothering them and distracting them from their school work. And the Big Boys are like me. Disturb them and then just TRY to reel them back.
I've already made some gruesome discoveries in the depths of the boys' schoolwork. They've been forced by baby to work somewhat independently and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose when you do that. Oldest Son is just finishing up Chapter ONE of his English book, for example. Yes, that is correct: that is ONE chapter out of ELEVEN, and we are now halfway through the school year, are we not?? Fortunately, that one is a really quick learner and I'm not very worried about him at all -- academically. I do worry about his sloppiness and why, oh why does he do his math in his head and not "show" his work? And the handwriting! Oh my.
But this hour alone with each boy is priceless. We laugh more. Things are less tense, since I don't have to constantly say, "Focus!" or "Stay on Task!" Or, "Baby, put that knife down!" or "Baby, get off the table!" So while the day IS longer, it flies by much quicker and is vastly more rewarding. And while I enjoyed doing school nearer the coffee pot for a while, it is great to have my white board back and a dedicated classroom to keep our books and tools organized.
Next steps: Make sure there's mastery in the basic ground already covered while somehow catching up, and THEN adding some additional work in that has been missing entirely. The really cool stuff that makes homeschool so great.
Do you have other tips for homeschooling with a baby? I'd love to hear them and I promise not to let them go in one ear and out the other this time.