Getting Behind in Homeschool? Here’s What to Do.
So you got a little behind with school. It happens. Life gets busy and sometimes that crazy busyness can mess with your perfectly planned schedule. It always irks me when I create a phenomenal schedule for the school week and then BAM! Life events come up and all of a sudden that beautiful plan goes down the drain. But you don’t have to let getting behind in homeschool stress you out.
When you’re stressed out about falling behind, what happens next? You get a little grouchy. You start to panic. You worry if you’re doing things wrong. Again. You wonder if you should assign schoolwork over the weekend. Can I count folding laundry as school? (The answer’s yes, by the way. Home Economics!) Can I count the trip to the doctor’s appointment as school? What about that movie we watched on Netflix? What was it called again? Kung Fu Panda III? Can the movie count as school?
Here’s the thing, Mama. Life happens. It’s inevitable. The world doesn’t stop spinning just because an extenuating circumstance occurred. And you certainly can’t pencil in the unexpected things. From stomach bugs to a broken washer machine, it’s just the reality of life. Stuff happens. It’s true. And now you’re behind in school. So what do you do now?
1. If you’re getting behind in homeschool, don’t panic!
First and foremost, don’t panic. I repeat: do not panic! There are a few times in our academic year when we get behind. When it first happened, I used to feel panicky about it. But soon I realized it was pointless worrying over getting behind, especially if a life event happened. If we fall behind schedule, I remain calm and remind myself to focus on what we can do. I also look at all we have accomplished so far. This is a great motivator when I see we are doing just fine.
2. Be realistic.
Be honest with yourself. Has a life event happened that you know it’s going to be a difficult week or few weeks for you and your family? Did you recently have a baby? Did you move to a new home, state, or out of the country? You have to be realistic when it comes to life events. If, for instance, you recently had a baby, you’re probably not going to be able to teach lessons for a few weeks. So maybe it’s better to schedule more independent assignments.
After I had Zechariah (our 4th baby now 17 months old), I made a huge mistake in starting school one month after his birth. We had just moved to a new state and new home. My husband had also just started a new job. I didn’t have any help, either. So instead we should have started school two months after the baby’s birth. I wasn’t being realistic, and in turn it caused a lot of stress for myself and the kids.
3. Allow yourself a moment of rest.
If you’re having a challenging week, is it possible that you may need to take a day or two off? I know I’ve had moments where I felt overwhelmed with a life event or just school in general. I used to stress myself out about completing everything on our schedule. I learned my lesson through trial and error and I now know that sometimes you just have to take a break.
Sometimes the kids might be feeling a little burnt out. Hey, it happens to kids, too! When I can tell they’re struggling, then I either revise their school schedule or I allow them to take the day off. Sometimes I’ll even suggest they go outside or play a game and then work on their assignments in the evening. I have found each time I do this, my children feel better and are able to focus on their work.If you get behind w/homeschool, don't worry! Here's what to do. Click To Tweet
4. If you’re getting behind in homeschool, count life as school.
Need to tackle four baskets of dirty laundry? Have the kids help you out! It’s Home Economics or Life Skills. Need to run to the grocery store in the middle of the school week? Bring the kids along and make it a fun Math lesson. Last year, I bought my daughter a grocery cart math workbook. It features fun lessons such as comparing prices and factoring tax for purchases.
Do you have a doctor’s appointment you need to go to during the school week? Bring the workbooks or worksheets for your children to complete. Or make a field trip out of it. I wrote a post about how to do this; you can read it here. Yes, you can count life as school and when you really get creative, you can see how everything connects and it is all a valuable learning experience.
5. Yes, you can count extracurricular events as school, too.
My son Elijah (16) plays soccer in the Fall and Spring seasons. So two days out of the week are busy days for us. I pencil in soccer on his school calendar and I count it as physical education. Because that’s exactly what it is!
Other extracurricular activities we have counted as school are: church youth group (Bible), working out at the gym (Health/P.E.), drum lessons (Music), robotics club (STEM), sewing class (Home Economics/Art), and Minecraft Electronics (STEM/Computer Technology/Math). Side note: yes, Minecraft Electronics was an actual class! Elijah took it for a semester and he learned about circuits and redstone.
6. Revise your schedule.
Is it possible you actually scheduled too much for school? Maybe a few lessons you scheduled were actually longer than you had expected. There have been many times I have scheduled way too many lessons for my kids. In fact, I’m known to over-schedule assignments and teaching lessons quite a bit. And yes, it used to bug me. But I changed my way of thinking and decided to work with my habit of over-scheduling.
Now I look at it as an advantage. If one of the children finish an assignment quickly, then I know I have options. Also, it makes it easier for me when I am scheduling lessons for the next week. I can use the leftover lessons for the new schedule.
7. Add online activities.
Whenever I can tell a school day is going to be hectic, I will schedule online activities. One program we use is IXL. It is an interactive learning program which features the subjects Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Another educational online service we use is Khan Academy. My teens love Khan Academy because not only does it feature assignments, but there are also teaching videos to watch.
There are so many educational programs featured online for all students. You just have to find the right one for your family. I don’t recommend buying too many programs, though. I pay a monthly membership for IXL and use Khan Academy because it’s also free. So I’m not spending too much money. Plus, the online programs instantly grade your child’s work, which means less work for you.
8. Assign homework.
Gasp! Assign homework? Yes, homeschoolers have homework, too. Your kids probably won’t like this idea too well, but it can help with catching up. Now that my two teens are older, I assign homework for them at least twice a week. It’s usually a worksheet or a brief online assignment. If we have fallen behind in our school week, then I let them know they may have to complete an assignment or two for homework over the weekend.
I’m not saying schedule a ton of homework. One or two assignments for homework over the weekend, for example, can really help. Sometimes my teens will even be honest and say, “Mom, I didn’t get to finish the math you assigned me. Can I work on it over the weekend?” Assigning homework can also teach your children how to take ownership of their school/work load.
9. Schedule it for next week.
This point is a combination of #2 and #6. When you realize there’s a possibility you may get behind, go ahead and revise your schedule. Move some assignments over to the next week. Focus on what you can do. I promise you will feel so much better when you do this.
This week has been a challenging week for us because the baby has been keeping late hours. How fun, right? I had lessons scheduled for Friday, but we had another late start to our day. So I scheduled a couple of lessons for weekend homework and moved the other lessons to our next school week.
10. Ask for help!
I know it can be hard sometimes, but it is okay to ask for help. Can your spouse/partner teach a lesson? Can grandma/grandpa help out with school? Do you have a friend who is willing to come over for the day to oversee school?
When we lived closer to my mom, sometimes I would take the teens to her house to do school so I could run an errand or take care of some things at home. She would help them with their assignments and let Elijah and Michala use her computer to work on schoolwork. Or she would take them out somewhere fun and I’d count it as a field trip. Don’t let stress takeover your homeschool. Ask for help when you know you need it!
When we’re honest with ourselves about life’s unexpected events, we learn to adapt to the change. Stress no longer is an issue and we are able to focus on the life event. After all, homeschool is not just doing school at home. It truly is a lifestyle. By incorporating the life events with your schooling, you no longer have to fear getting behind. Everything falls into place and flows naturally.