Having a Baby in the Middle of the School Year
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By Laura Carter
When you homeschool it can be hard sometimes to stay on track. There are a lot of distractions that come up that want to take time away from you getting all of your work done. These distractions can be family situations, medical issues, activities, or just plain boredom. But probably one of the hardest things to overcome in a school year is having a baby. There are ways you can prepare for that precious little bundle so you don’t get too far behind in your schooling.
1. Plan ahead
Plan to take at least 4 weeks off of school after the baby is born. You can always shorten the time off if things settle down and everyone adjusts well, but 4 weeks is a good estimation.
2. Get more work done before baby arrives
You can get extra work done in the essential subjects like math, reading, spelling, etc and get ahead a little bit so that the down time doesn’t affect you as badly. You could also plan to do harder work before baby, and leave easier work for after baby. For example, you could go over the basics of multiplication and division before baby, and then after baby review adding multiple numbers or more difficult subtraction. Try to foresee difficult areas and get those done ahead of time. If you’re in a state that requires a certain number of school days per year, consider doing half lessons on Saturdays to accumulate extra days that you will miss after baby comes.
3. Tentative Scheduling
Since babies don’t always come on their due date, and moms aren’t always able to get it all done the last few weeks of her pregnancy, plan light weeks toward the end of your pregnancy so that if more rest is needed, or the baby comes early, you won’t miss a crucial lesson that takes a lot of time and energy.
4. Taking a Break
Once your precious little baby is added to your family, forget about school. Nothing is more important that getting rest, and recovering from the birth process. The more rest you get immediately after giving birth, the faster your recovery time and the quicker you can get back to normal life. It might be a good idea to have some workbooks or a new supply of craft materials to keep kids occupied. But your main focus should not be formal schooling until you have rested and recovered.
5. Getting back into the swing of things
Once you feel ready to start back to school, take it slow. Work on the essential topics and gradually work in the extra things. Don’t stress out about getting a full day done, just be grateful for whatever work does get done. A little bit of work done is better than no work done. You will know when you are ready to begin a little bit of school and your children will definitely let you know when they’re ready to get back into a normal routine.
6. Don’t be afraid to slow down
Say you start back up with school and things are going great, but then you’re suddenly tired all the time, the baby is crying all day, and the children won’t concentrate on their lessons. Is it wrong to take another break? Absolutely not. Sometimes taking a 4 day weekend, or even a 5 day weekend, can help everyone refresh and better handle the emotional stress of a school routine. A little work is better than no work, but no work is better than overdoing it!
7. What to do with the baby?
Babies take up a lot of time and effort. They are completely dependent on the people around them and therefore can consume a lot of time and attention. Don’t be afraid to nurse, hold a sleeping baby, or even a crying baby, while you’re doing schoolwork. Get a portable playpen for the baby to lie in and combine schoolwork with taking care of the baby. Diapers can be changed on the floor next to the table or desk (on a little mat or blanket), and babies can sleep in the same room as the children doing school. Babies don’t always need perfect quietness to sleep, especially in their youngest stage. They got used to the noise and chaos while in your belly.
8. Babies for learning
Having a new baby is an excellent time for teaching older children about anatomy, the miracle of life, responsibility, and basic baby needs and duties. Have the children help you fetch diapers, burp the baby, hold and cuddle, and play with baby while you help another child with school. Don’t think that you have to do it all on your own and remember that babies are much more resilient than we think! A too-hard pat won’t hurt them, and crying for a little bit while you finish a lesson won’t hurt either.
If you’re expecting a baby in the middle of the school year, do not fret. It isn’t as daunting a situation as you might think, as long as you plan and prepare and don’t stress too much about the schoolwork not getting done. Think of having a baby as a different kind of schooling, and determine that rest and recovery is just as important for your family and a full school year. It will all work out and you will be able to enjoy your precious new addition with more joy.
Copyright © 2011 Eclectic Homeschool Association