When You Can’t Homeschool

A lot of homeschoolers can attest to the times in life when you can’t homeschool.  Sometimes life happens and school just… doesn’t. So, what do you do when school work has to take a back seat to other priorities?

art history kids

When you can't homeschool the kids will still have tons of learning opportunities. Sometimes life gets in the way when we're homeschooling, and that's okay. How do we make sure our kids are getting an education when life takes over? #homeschool #homeschooling #reallifelearning #thisbitoflife
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We’ve had a crazy couple of months. It wasn’t that long ago that we were evacuated for over two weeks due to Hurricane Florence. Now that our house is all back in order, we’re moving. So the chaos just continues. How do we fit school time in when life just doesn’t allow us to?

We aren’t unschoolers by any means. We have curriculum that we love and follow a very eclectic approach that fits our family so well. But, over our years of homeschooling I’ve definitely learned that there are seasons where you just have to let go. Let go of expectations, of schedules, and of when the school year is “supposed” to end.

This year I fully expect our school year to go from a traditional school year where we take summer break, to a school year where we go year round. It’s all about flexibility. But even then, we don’t want to just take weeks and weeks off without some sort of structure. Sure, packing needs to be done, but my kids definitely notice when we lack that structure. So, what’s a homeschool mom to do?

Here’s a video of me discussing what we do when we can’t homeschool. Don’t like videos? No worries! Just keep reading.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to look like school

A lesson that has taken me years to learn is that homeschooling doesn’t have to look like school. My kids aren’t expected to sit still for any certain amount of time to work. They’re allowed to take plenty of breaks and we’re able to make sure we fit the fun stuff in first. So, it finally occurred to me that the flexibility that I allow in our lessons and in our daily tasks can flow right on over to how we set up our weeks and even our year, especially during times that we can’t homeschool with our normal routine.

Homeschool burnout

Oh, the burnout. Every single year I’ve had it. Every year, not long after our Christmas break, I just feel like we need yet another break. I’m stressed, the kids don’t want to do school work, and no one is happy.

How do we prevent burn out?

By making sure we slow down when we can’t do school. By not forcing lessons upon my kids when we know other things need to take priority. By making sure we’re taking the time to take breaks, do fun activities, and by making sure we all have that joy for learning back in our days.

This year, I finally got it. This is what we’re doing to keep that burnout away and by keeping the joy in our homeschool.

when you can't homeschool

How we’re keeping our homeschool fun, and unschool-like

Even among the craziness of moving, I knew I wanted to keep certain things in our schedule so that my kids are able to feel the security of structure, while still having the fun of hands on lessons. We will still have some book work on slow days, but I really want to take this time to focus on having fun while taking care of the not-so-fun tasks of purging and packing.

Three things I really want to focus on are art, nature, reading, and games.

1. Art

My kids love art. I recently did a review of Art History Kids and talk about how it has changed art in our homeschool. It really, truly has. I plan on continuing our lessons with Art History Kids, but also adding in a lot of handicrafts. My boys love to sew (it’s not just for girls!), so I plan to introduce embroider to them in the coming weeks.

when you can't homeschool

Giving kids the freedom to express themselves in art is so freeing in a lot of ways. Moving can bring up a lot of emotions for kids, so having a lot of free art time will be really great for them to open up. Plus, it’s fun. My kids don’t look at art as school work, but as a fun addition to our days, and I love that.

2. Nature

It’s obvious to me why nature is fun for kids. The fresh air, the vitamin D. Being outside is so good for us and it gets us beyond our four walls. Being in nature is why I love our roadschooling lifestyle so much.

when you can't homeschool

My kids are really into nature journaling, so we plan to do a lot of that in the coming weeks. Kids tend to observe the little things in nature that we don’t catch with our busy adult minds. Follow them on a short nature walk and you will come home feeling refreshed. (And maybe ready to pack another box…)

3. Reading

Confession time: I don’t read to my kids enough. I don’t know when the read alouds stopped happening as frequently as we’d like, but I’m determined to pick it back up again. This crazy time in our lives may seem like a weird time to start back up, but I think it’s the perfect time. It will be a great reason to slow down and re-connect when we have so many other tasks that need our attention the rest of the day.

when you can't homeschool

You may already do a lot of read alouds as a part of your day, so maybe you can change it up another way- by having your kids pick the topic or books, by skipping the school books for real books for a lessons, or by starting a new series of books you haven’t picked up before. Let the joy of reading together as a family spark some new excitement in your family!

4. Games

We are a total game family! Family game night is one of my favorite times. We haven’t been playing as many games since we have a toddler who likes to pretend she’s Wreck It Ralph right now, so making game playing a priority during this time is exactly what our family needs.

when you can't homeschool

Games can be so incredibly educational and give kids a way to practice all sorts of different concepts. It’s no wonder that gameschooling is now considered a method of homeschooling. Pick out a new game this week and have a blast together as a family.

When you can’t homeschool

Right now, our homeschool doesn’t look anything remotely like school, and I’ve finally come to accept that that’s okay. My kids will go back to their math books. We will continue our phonics lessons. They will learn their states and capitals. But, for now, we’re going to be focusing on what our family needs most, and that is rest and joy during a hectic time in our lives. When you can’t homeschool, lots and lots of learning and wonderful moments can still be accomplished.

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5 thoughts on “When You Can’t Homeschool

  1. Any (honest) public school teacher will tell you there can be weeks and weeks during the traditional school year where progress toward learning goals just sort of…slows down…and even stops. This is especially true for the 2 weeks before each major school break. During those times, teaching is more just being a traffic cop, and getting them to focus on one or two things to salvage the day. Homeschoolers probably get more done than they think even on “downtimes.”

    1. Thank you for your public school perspective on this! I totally agree that homeschoolers probably do get more done than they think on downtimes, for sure! Our “down time” the past two weeks has been attending my midwife appointment, learning how to raise baby chicks, visiting a national park (gotta earn those Junior Ranger Badges!), and sewing an entire stuffed animal. I’d say that they did plenty of learning, even if none of it came from a book.

  2. I saw that your boys love to sew… what do they sew?? My boy turns 6 soon and he really wants to sew something, anything. He even asked for needles for his birthday, haha. So I thought I’d see if you had any suggestions. 🙂
    I feel like all the things you mentioned, art/read alouds etc, are all basically what our school is right now and it’s so fun. With a bit of math and experiments mixed in. Thanks for your emails and posts, they have been so helpful for us!

    1. Their favorite thing to sew is probably stuffed animals. It doesn’t have to be complicated- two pieces of fabric cut and then sewn and stuffed. They did make a stuffed chicken for 4-H that was pretty legit on the sewing machine, though! Have so much fun creating with your little guy!!

  3. Aw, thanks for replying! And I will, you just never know what some of these little passions may turn into when they’re older. 🙂

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