Tips for Homeschooling with Little Ones at Home

Homeschooling and raising little ones can be tough. But you can learn to keep peace in the process. Here are a few tips to help you in this season.

People often do you do it all?

The answer is....I don't.

As a homeschool mom of 3 boys, life is busy as one might expect, but we are finding a rhythm that works for us in this season. My two youngest were back-to-back Covid-era babies. Dealing with newborns, toddlers, post-partum and homeschooling in a time of much isolation, when the world around us was full of fear and confusion, was not easy, to say the least. But I determined in my heart to not just survive during that time, but to thrive.

Here are a few tips and lessons we've discovered along the way, that will hopefully help you find more peace and productivity in your homeschool journey with little ones.

1) Value the quality of sibling time.

There is a four-year age gap between my oldest and my middle child. If my 8-year-old was in traditional school, he would have a totally different life than his little brothers. His schedule and friends and interests would create a large separation between them. To watch, instead, how close they all are, and how the little guys adore their big brother, is a priceless treasure.

2) You don't have to do it all.

We are pretty casual homeschoolers when it comes to curriculum, but when we do follow something that is open-and-go, we often work through it at about half the pace as outlined. Distractions abound with littles around and flexibility is vital. Slow progress forward is still better than no progress. You don't need to keep up with anyone, and the pace that is best for your children is going to serve them more in the long run.  We set priorities on outside time and quality connections with family and our community over completing a set agenda or worrying when the chores will get done. Here's a tip, the chores are never done. If you tidy one area, the littles will be like tornadoes behind you, making a trail of debris twice as fast as you can tidy. So do what you need to keep the peace and function, but save the perfectionist presentation for when your kids are grown.

3) Involve the little ones. 

When my oldest reached school age, I was also running a home daycare. As a natural transition, we just started adapting his lessons to include kids of all ages. The young ones may lose interest and wander off to other activities, but it piques their curiosity to see what older kids are learning even if it's just their own coloring sheet while an older sibling does a worksheet. Each of my boys has their own box of school supplies they can grab when we sit for any table work. The young ones have coloring, stickers, play dough and small fidget toys. (And snacks, lots of snacks!) If an older sibling is working on a computer, I give my littles a toddler learning toy laptop or an old keyboard not plugged in. If using a curriculum, look for something that is family-style. So you are all focused on one topic together and then each child just adapts their work to their own level. In our learning pod, we have ages 2-10 sometimes all working together. Mixed-age learning has so many multi-faceted benefits!

4) Develop a love of reading. 

If a planned lesson just isn't working out on a particular day, don't force your way forward. Pressure and frustration block the way to learning. But a love of reading opens the doors to pursue whatever knowledge is needed to follow one's passions. Spend some quality time reading with everyone. The young ones might be hanging upside down off the edge of the couch. But you may be surprised how much they are still taking in. Reading and being read to gives a huge advantage for language development. As a bonus, you may get some extra snuggle time! Or in my case often, it may turn into a full on wrestling match, me included. But physical closeness and exerting some energy is positive for brain development too.

5) Embrace time in the kitchen. 

I am not naturally a lover of anything domestic.  And I'm not saying a woman's place is on the kitchen, but if you can see it as the heart of your home, it can be a place of peace instead of a burden. Let your kids help you bake, cook, and clean. There is so much they learn just by reading recipes, measuring and other math, communication skills, teamwork, and again invaluable quality time together. Yes, it takes longer, and yes it's messy, but a worthy sacrifice with significant rewards. We don't have a large kitchen, but we've arranged it to be kid-friendly and inviting for them to participate. Rather than try to juggle school time with chore time, involve the kids in the whole process. Let them learn by living life with you. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that it feels like HOME, not school. 

6). Lean into God's grace. 

Raising your children is an important Kingdom calling. This ministry of discipling your children is raising up a generation of faith-filled believers who will change the world for Jesus. Many days doing small and tedious things that often don't go as planned, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. But God has called you to this. God has anointed you and equipped you to do this. His grace is upon you and His mercies are new every morning. The hot topics these days are all about "self-care ". and "Mommy wine culture."  Now, I love a good massage, and certainly would even love a hot shower uninterrupted for a change, but let me tell you, self-care will never fill your soul. No matter how stressed a day is, only Jesus filling your spirit with His living water can refresh you the way your heart truly needs. When your kids are your alarm clock long before the sun even rises, I know it's hard to find time alone to spend with God and in His Word. But He is the vine, and you are the branch. Abide in Him, and you will produce much fruit. But apart from Him you can do nothing. If you get disconnected from God you will just strive and struggle and dry up deep within. Dwell with Him daily. In the busyness of the day, lift your heart in prayer and song. Play worship music, memorize scripture together, have family devotionals. Even play hide and seek and don't go find them for a few minutes so you can talk to God. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Homeschool mom or not, there is a lot of chatter out there that mom life is just a struggle.  And I feel you.  I've been there; I'm in the thick of it too.  If you are struggling, you don't need to pretend everything is okay.  But if you dwell on that, it will just pull you down.  Lift up your eyes to the hills, where your help does come from.  You can have all the perfect plans and strategies, but unless the Lord builds your home, you labor in vain.  Children are a blessing and not a burden.  And if you are feeling burdened, don't feel guilt.  Jesus said to come to Him all who are weary and heavy-burdened and He will give you rest.  

So cast your cares upon Him today.  Receive His rest.  Better than any nap you are longing for, God's peace in your soul will awaken you and breathe new life into you and your whole family.

My prayer for you is that the Prince of Peace will reign in your home. That the Holy Spirit will be your guide, your counselor, your joy-giver and your closest companion. May the love of Abba Father so fill your heart that it spills over to your children. I pray that above all, they would see Jesus in you as you serve them and love them every day.

Categories: children, chores, Cooking, curriculum, Devotional, homemaking