A reader asked: I have a 5.5, 4, and 9 month old and we are beginning to homeschool this fall. I am really nervous. I was wondering if you would consider doing a blog post about your daily rhythms with schooling and having various aged kids. My 5.5 year old is just starting kindergarten, so I know it’s not going to be “that big” of a deal…nevertheless, in my years as a stay at home mom, I have come to covet my alone time and chore routines and I am anxious, knowing that I will have to sacrifice some of that. Specifically, how do you get chores done? When do you prepare food? How do you entertain the other kids? How do you keep kids from being bored at home?
First of all, be anxious for nothing, dear sister. The Lord gives peace. He is the Giver of all Wisdom. When in doubt, He is the Giver of peace. When you have too many choices before you, seek His face. When you don’t know how you will handle it all, simply knock and ask for His grace to know what you should do. Seeking the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and direction day by day is my main help and companion for my homeschool journey. He’s got the best homeschool advice. Pray through your daily schedule – pray through each planned encounter with your children. This work is hard. It is more than we can do on our own strength.
The beauty of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to adjust and flex to your own family’s needs. You don’t have to look like a public school. Your kids don’t have to be doing formal lesson six or more hours a day. It’s okay to stick with the basics (the 3R’s as they are often called) during busy seasons of newborns, starting a business, or moving. I’ve done it. It’s really freeing to just let go of the pressure and snuggle up to read aloud while nursing. Give yourself grace…because God has poured it out in abundance for us to embrace. You have many years ahead. You don’t have to cram in all the subjects, every single year.
If you can see learning as a lifestyle, rather than restricted to certain “scheduled” school hours, you will be able to witness learning happening as siblings work through squabbles, do basic chores, visit with a neighbor, explores in the yard/garden, or looks at a picture book.
As Durenda Wilson, in The Unhurried Homeschooler, says, “There have been seasons when I wondered, ‘What am I really teaching them?’ At the time it seemed like all we did was make meals, change diapers, and try to keep the house from falling apart. But somewhere in those moments of working alongside each other and just being together, they learned. They learned about life and love, honor and respect, hard work and play.”\
Must of the struggles I have experienced while homeschooling come when I am listening to too many outside voices, too many wonderful podcasts, books, or homeschooling friends. Sometimes you just need to pull back and sit at the feet of the Savior.
You don’t have to fit your homeschool into a box, a prescriptive curriculum, or educational philosophy. Each of your children is a unique person with a different learning style. If I see them as a unique and beautiful child of God with a specific calling for their lives, I will treasure the journey and not checking off the boxes. But give yourself time to find your groove. Most of my homeschool friends, including myself, testify that it has taken three or four years to figure out what works best for their family. That’s okay. You don’t have to figure it all out at once.
With that in mind, how do we get things done over here? Homeschooling does take a bit of organization and planning to keep life running smoothly, but you will still have grace for those days that will come when you need to put the books aside and take a nature walk instead. Eliminate until there is peace in your home. If there is no peace, there is no learning going to be happening either.
I do believe it is good to have a few books on hand that offer encouragement and perspective now and again throughout this homeschooling journey. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of any or all of these books, as you will reference them again and again. I re-read at least one of these each summer before a new school year. Highly recommended. They are all nice and short too, so very manageable to read through. Everything I have to say comes from these lovely ladies.
Teaching From Rest – Sarah MacKenzie
The Unhurried Homeschooler – Durenda Wilson
For the Children’s Sake – Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit – Teri Maxwell
“God doesn’t call us to this work and then turn away to tend to other, more important matters. He promises to stay with us, to lead us, to carry us…What that means on a practical level is that we have to stop fretting over every little detail. We need to stop comparing. We’ve got to drop the self-inflated view that we are the be-all and end-all of whether the education we are offering our children is going to be as successful as we hope it is. After all, our job is not to be successful – success itself is entirely beside the point. It’s faithfulness that He wants. God is good! He isn’t going to let us pour out our hearts for our children only to be left choking on the dust of our mistakes.” – Sarah MacKenzie, Teaching from Rest
I’m breaking my response to this question into a mini series:
Keeping Kindergarten/Early Years Simple (Part 2)
Quiet Time for Mommy Is A Good Thing (Part 3)
Our Homeschool Routine: 4 Daily Blocks (Part 4)
Getting Chores Done – Train Your Kids as Young as Possible (Part 5)
Keeping Littles Busy: My Three Favorites: Include them, Pack n play, & Workbooks
So excited about these posts to come, especially as I anticipate my first year of homeschooling this fall! This is extra sweet for me because I’ve been reading your blog for about 7 years! I began before I was married, and your blog planted a seed way back then of desire for homeschooling my children someday. Not to mention to be a wife and mother:) Thanks Lindsay! You are so faithful to exult Jesus in all you do and it’s a beautiful thing.
I love, love, love this! I’m excited to read the rest of the series and to check out your book recommendations. We have enjoyed a relaxed learning style for the past couple of years but my oldest turned 6 this year. I feel like I need to be more intentional with teaching him but at the same time it feels very overwhelming trying to figure out what to add and what to take away from our days in order to make that work. You are so right – instead of first trying to figure it out in my head, I need to go to my knees.
I love all of those books also! Meek and Quiet Spirit is still available! It can be purchased directly from the author’s website!
Blessings on your day!
Thanks for sharing the link!
I am also interested in hearing how you juggle playing time with friends, in connection to how many activities you participate in, we are having free days at home (meaning no away from home activities) but then the kids think they get to play with neighbor friends all afternoon. I would love to know how you handle that
Playing with neighbors is a tricky topic, one that I haven’t mastered yet. I do believe it is wise to have home days and to be able to be content just playing with siblings. When we were growing up, my mom designated certain days of the week for playing with neighbors (Tues & Thurs, or something along those lines). That made it easier so all parties knew the schedule. We keep to afternoon play throughout the year, but it does rotate days throughout the week based on neighbors availability because they have a busy schedule. I due restrict it to two days that they can play with neighbors (more in summer). We see friends at church, and our monthly field trips, and an occasional scheduled play date (mainly in the summer months), but I don’t stress over giving them tons of scheduled play opportunities. It’s good for them to just have time for free play with siblings and such.
I, too, am glad you’re writing again! You never left my feed reader!
I think your advice is SPOT ON. We actually don’t even start ANYTHING formal until the child is SIX! (We use the Charlotte Mason method) And I love it. I love just letting kids be for as long as possible. I hope this Mama gets some peace!
I’m with you on waiting to start formal academics! It certainly has helped reduce the stress load .
When your blog popped up in email again when you returned to writing, I was overjoyed! You are so real & honest & a great role model. I truly missed your blog while you were on break. Thank you for sharing your life with us. You have no idea how many times God has used you to encourage me. I am in my 5th year of homeschooling now and have just recently realized all the things you wrote about here. It is so not about checking off boxes and being in a strict schedule. That just stressed me out and made me feel guilty. I have 5 little ones, 9 yrs and under, and you are right…grace is everything! I can’t wait to read this mini-series!!
Thank you for writing this! I’m excited to read this miniseries, I could really use it. This will be our second year homeschooling, I have 3 boys ages 6 years, 3 years and almost 1 year. Last year we used Sonlight and this year I am pulling together several different living books and curriculum resources and have a lot of anxiety over planning and finding our groove. Also, my husband and I started a business and he left his corporate job in December, so it’s been a very busy and stressful year. However, the Lord is so good and has provided for our family in amazing ways!
I love this! I was wondering if you could add to the series your advice on outside activities (music lessons, sports, co-ops, etc.) Are you involved in any and how do you choose and fit them into your schedule? Thanks!
That’s a great question! Yes, I can add it.
I just wanted to say that I am so, so happy that you have returned to blogging! I dearly missed your perspective and encouragement!
I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for being so honest and real. On so many level I admire you. My family started on a whole food diet ( tried our hardest to follow west on price) and unfortunately at this time in our life it actually caused more pain and distance between us. Your post natural living becoming an idol was a game changer for me. Of course our goal is to still lead a healthy life but it looks different now. And how I look forward to this series! We are on year 2 of homeschooling and are still figuring out our rythm. Thanks again. God bless
I’m looking forward to your mini series
Hello again!! Oh my, I began following your blog years ago while nursing my second child, who is about to turn 10 this month. I followed faithfully and was so sad to see you hang up your blog hat, but was so touched by your sincerity in putting the Lord and your family first. Good mama!!
I’m excited to following along with your homeschooling journey and have to giggle, as I have all the books you’ve listed. Absolutely wonderful reads!
I am curious, however, as you mentioned in your first post back, that you no longer soak your grains. Are you still following a traditional food regimen at all? I’m still cooking traditionally as much as possible, but with children getting older and developing more refined palates, the homemade, traditional food they once enjoyed is being tested against more and more processed foods they are being exposed to outside of our home. I’m curious if this is also the reason you’ve stopped soaking or if it is just lack of time. Homeschooling is a full time job!
Michelle – Yes, we still eat a primarily whole real food diet, I just don’t follow the Nourishing Traditions soaking grains methods/making kefir/fermenting, etc. I still make food from scratch for the most part. But I certainly have simplified my cooking routines and will occasionally use spaghetti sauce from the jar, for example. I also buy sprouted bread rather than making from home. Time is limited with 4 littles and homeschooling for sure.
I can’t wait to read the mini series that will follow this! This was very encouraging to me as I am in the same boat with a 5year old a two and one year old. I must agree with you when I take my eyes away from peace and listen to too many voices( even if the voices are full of great information) it opens me up to do much confusion and sometimes discontent. I began to have to go back to my Source and really anchor down to what’s truly important.
I am so looking forward the rest of this series! I’m in a nearly identical situation to the mama who originally posed the question, and I’m hoping to glean some helpful tips as we start our first year of homeschool next month!
You’re writing again…yay!!!! Good reminders and encouragement as the new school year looms and much anxiety with it…thanks!