One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility. I’ve homeschooled through four moves, several pregnancies, health issues, vacations, family emergencies and more. It seems like a lot of people view these types of things as obstacles to homeschooling but I view them as situations in which homeschooling is an extra blessing.
In the last few months, our life has been crazy and chaotic and it is probably going to remain that way at least another month. The majority of our belongings were picked up mid-October to be shipped from Germany to the U.S. The rest of our belongings and our car was shipped Mid-November. We spent a week in a cabin over Thanksgiving before flying to the U.S. ourselves. Our belongings arrived here in Kansas between Christmas and New Years and we are still waiting on our car.
We did continue to homeschool through some of this but we were able to take off or adjust to a more relaxed schedule as needed. We didn’t have to worry about transportation to and from school when we only had one car or when we were in the cabin. We didn’t have to rush to enroll our kids in school despite jet lag. I honestly don’t know how people navigate a move like that with kids in public school.
I have found three key mental shifts that you have to make in order to relax and really enjoy the flexibility of homeschooling:
Note: With all of these tips you will need to keep your state’s homeschool laws in mind. Most states require around 180 school days a year, some have specific requirements for hours/day or hours/subject and a few require school to be conducted during specific times.
Get out of the August through May school mindset. School can happen in the summer too! We find that taking off 2-3 months in the summer just causes struggles for our family. My kids do better with structure and mental stimulation so it works better for us to take off small increments of time throughout the year when we need the break. One week is usually enough and two weeks seems to be the max we can take off before spiraling into chaos!
Let go of the idea that you must cover every – or even most – subjects to call it a school day. Learning happens all the time. Visiting the zoo or a museum is a learning experience and that counts as a school day! Traveling can even count as a school day (geography, social studies, etc). Some days you may just cover English, Math, and History, the next you may cover Science and Writing, that is simply block scheduling! Also look into loop scheduling which is a really great idea for organizing subjects that don’t necessarily need to be done daily. Expand your idea of what a school day is, not every day has to look like sitting at the table checking off all the subjects!
Drop the idea of “school hours.” School can (and does) happen in the evenings or on weekends. Learning isn’t limited by the clock or calendar. Maybe you have a discussion about photosynthesis at dinner or watch a documentary about World War 1 on a lazy Saturday. All of that is learning-count it!!
I find that the people who are feeling stressed and doubting their ability to homeschool through a life transition (or just through life’s unpredictability) are still trying to fit homeschool into the public school scheduling model. It is ok to do school outside of normal school hours/days/months. This is one of the biggest blessings of homeschooling – you can make it fit your family. Stretch your idea of what counts as school and learn to love the flexibility of homeschooling. Not only does it make life circumstances and transitions less stressful but vacationing is way more fun when you aren’t fighting the rest of the world during school breaks!
The other biggest source of stress and doubt for homeschool moms is the idea of their kids being “caught up” or “doing enough.” But that is an entirely different discussion for another day!