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Homeschooling While Caring for a New Baby
Q: My husband and I were certain that we would homeschool our son. Then we got pregnant. Our son will be five in June and we are expecting our second child (another boy) in July. I'm very scared at the prospect of teaching the older child while trying to mother the youngest. How can I handle both at the same time?
A: I can understand your fears. A new baby is going to be a tremendous adjustment for your family. Starting school at this critical time may also be stressful for your son. My older daughter was four when my younger daughter was born. It was a wonderful experience. Instead of being sent to school, the older girl spent her days with her new sibling. She got to know her little sister really well, and nine years later, the two of them are still very close.
Try to remember that one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is the gift of freedom. You do not have to (nor should you want to!) duplicate the school environment at home. When I was feeding the baby, we all cuddled up on the couch and I would read to my older girl. When I cooked dinner or baked cookies, we practiced reading (the cookbook) and using measurements. When I took the baby for a walk, we'd talk about the trees or stones or insects we discovered. Our walks would be followed by a trip to the library to further explore items of interest or to answer questions that came up. I'd pop in an educational video in the afternoon for my daughter, and I'd rest with the baby. In essence, we continued living and learning, just like before. Only now our activities were more varied and interesting.
At five-years-old, your son is not going to require a lot of academic work. He does not need a curriculum or lesson plan. Most boys his age are not ready for pencil and paper learning anyway. Please take the time to read at least one book about homeschooling before the baby is born. Homeschooling: The Early Years - Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8- Year-Old Child or The Homeschooling Book of Answers, both by Linda Dobson, are good choices.
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.