If you have been a homeschool mom for any amount of time, you know exactly how this moment feels. Your baby needs a diaper change, the toddler is dumping bins of toys, your Kindergartener is waiting to read to you, and your 2nd grader is in tears over math. And it’s only 9:00 a.m! It’s like an intense game of “whack a mole”, where you are trying to solve one problem…only to run into three or four more just when you think you are getting ahead! So how do you keep homeschooling when all your kids need you at the same time?
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How do you homeschool multiple kids? You work with one child at a time, starting with the greatest needs first. Begin with the youngest child. Encourage older kids to do independent work until you can give them your full attention. Although you may feel in this moment like you are failing to meet everyone’s needs, taking care of them individually is exactly what you are doing!
Have the Right Perspective
When you have a moment when everyone needs you, you should realize that this is normal. That doesn’t mean that this is always how it is, but there will be times like this.
The first time this happens to a new homeschool mom, I think the tendency is for them to doubt themselves and wonder how other homeschool moms are pulling this off. What’s the best way to manage all these distractions and needs? There must be some magical system or tool.
I assure you, there’s not.
When you see homeschool moms who appear relaxed and seemingly un-miffed, while you are struggling to stay above water, it’s not that they have found something you haven’t. It is probably that they have come to accept the overwhelming moments as part of the package.
Here’s what you need to understand about homeschooling. Although YOU may feel overwhelmed and like you are failing to meet everyone’s needs, taking care of them individually is EXACTLY what you are doing! You see, in a classroom, it is very likely that there would be no line of kids waiting their turn for one-on-one help. In a class of 20 or so students, everyone gets lumped in with the group. The kid who needs help has to figure it out. The one who understands it and needs more of a challenge has to sit through the lesson anyway.
The reason you have a line of kids needing you is because you are giving them a unique, individualized education and THAT is a good thing!
Understand the Ebb and Flow of Homeschooling
The longer you homeschool, you gain a better perspective. You know that there are days when you only get to the basics, and other days where you cover twice as much. In one individual day, it may seem like you didn’t do much, but at the end of the year, you will be surprised by all the progress your kids have made.
Some days in fall or spring, we tend to ditch the textbooks and opt for a nature hike. Other times we plow through our textbooks. We cover a ton of academic work in January through March during the shorter winter days when we are all stuck inside.
We have made our homeschool fit around our lifestyle. Because of this, it looks differently at different times of the year and in different stages of life. In the end, however, it all evens out. When kids love to learn, they are always growing, every making progress.
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Moms With All Littles
If you are a mom with all littles, I am going to tell you something that I wish someone would have told me when I was in that stage.
It gets easier.
When your kids are all small, there’s not a whole lot that they can do on their own. This is a season of investing and it is hard work. They really do all need you most of the time. Building a foundation is always the hardest part with the least seen rewards.
BUT as your oldest grows and becomes more independent, this slowly changes. Over time, your number of independent kids will start to outnumber your dependent kids. That’s when you begin to feel the difference.
Here are some suggestions if you have all littles.
- Use the baby/toddler’s nap time to do the subjects in which your older kids need the most help from you. We did math in the afternoon for several years because it was when the baby was napping and I could count on fewer interruptions.
- Have your budding reader read to you while you nurse the baby.
- Wear the baby or toddler.
- Have a quiet time during the day where you can get a break to recharge. Little children are exhausting!
You may also enjoy reading How to Homeschool With a Baby and Best Tips for Homeschooling With Toddlers in the House.
Work With One Child At A Time
It can be tempting to multi-task and try to put out all the fires at once, but in my opinion, you can be more effective when you take one child at a time and give them your full attention. You can choose to solve the quickest “fix” or start with the youngest first. I have done both.
Start With The Quickest “Fix”
Sometimes it makes the most sense to solve the quickest “fix” first. There may be something urgent that can be solved quickly so that you can get to everyone else.
Start with the Youngest First
Since the youngest children are the ones who have the greatest need, begin with them. This may mean stopping and nursing the baby. It may be stopping and playing with the toddler for a few minutes until they are engaged in an activity. Or, it may be having an older child read a book to a toddler. It’s ok to have your older kids help! This is a nice break from their work and can be a big help to mom, not to mention that it builds a closer bond between siblings!
If you have older kids, encourage them to first try and see if they can solve the problem on their own. This doesn’t mean you aren’t hands on or giving them the one-on-one attention they need. It means you are motivating them to become independent learners. You are also helping them to be problem solvers which is a valuable life skill!
If they are unable to move ahead without help, have them do other available independent work from their checklist until you are free to give them your full attention. This might be a reading assignment, copywork, narration, or an online class.
Teach them to Wait
Teach your kids to wait patiently until you are available to give them your full attention. This probably seems so obvious, but I think that it’s important to say that teaching them to wait is not necessarily a lesson they learn in a day or a week or for some of them…a childhood! It’s a lesson that is learned by repeated encounters.
As kids mature, sometimes it takes a while for them to understand that the world does not revolve around them. This is an opportunity for them to put others ahead of themselves, to defer to the needs of others. It’s also a chance for them to learn delayed gratification. In the adult world, these are valuable character traits to have, so begin teaching them now.
Relax: Time is on your side!
One of the reasons we decided to homeschool is because of all the time we get to spend with our kids. Because you are homeschooling, you don’t need to fit your lessons into a certain window of time. You have ALL day! You have plenty of time to get to whatever it is that is pressing. You can take a few minutes in the afternoon or evening or weekend if you need it.
Not only do you have all day, you have their whole childhood! Let your homeschool become a lifestyle of learning together. The longer I homeschool, the more I am convinced that it is less about all of the lessons and textbooks, and more about a lifestyle of learning and growing together.
Enjoy your kids. Look them in the eyes and really listen to them. You have their whole childhood to be attentive to them!
Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!