Homeschool with a Baby!
Say WHAT?! You, homeschool with an infant!? Is that even possible? Are you even awake? Do you have octopus arms?
These are legitimate questions! I can speak from first hand experience that thinking about homeschooling with an infant sent me into a bit of a whirlwind of emotions. But I am here to tell you momma, YOU CAN DO IT! Yes, it will take thoughtfulness, planning, and preparing but it is possible and you don’t have to just survive it, but you can thrive in it too!
First of all let me tell you, I am so excited for you to be making this choice to be with you infant and committing to schooling your older child(ren). I believe that we must start with a perspective change both in our hearts and minds when we enter into homeschooling with a baby. Similar to when people say to me, “just wait for those teenage years” (with a sarcastic and negative tone). I want to encourage you (and remind myself), “just wait for those teenage years” (with the excitement of what the possibility may be in store). We all must change our hearts, minds, vocabulary and perspective to see things as the blessings they are instead of embracing what others have viewed as heartache.
STEP ONE: Start with prayer, evaluate your minds position on the prospect of homeschooling with a baby, and change it from fear to faith, from terror to trust. Don’t trust in the power of positive thinking, trust in the power of the creator of everything!
If you haven’t had your baby yet and are processing through what schooling with an infant will look like, or you are in a crash course to prepare for Monday school lets start with a big picture and work our way down.
Big picture, in order to be successful with an infant you will need to prepare not only your mind but you physical space as well. Does this mean you need to put your house on the market and move as soon as possible to bigger and better? Absolutely not! What I mean is just like you prepare your nursery or home for a baby with the things you will need, do so when it comes to schooling as well.
For starters, where do you do school? Are in at the kitchen table, or in a homeschool room? Wherever you are, one thing that has helped me as I have homeschooled with an infant is to create a space for the infant. In full transparency this has looked different with each baby as I have found and adjusted what is more helpful to me as a mom, so be prepared to try and adjust if needed and as they grow. I like to have a pack-n-play of some sort that I am able to lay my baby down in during school time, whether for a nap or to play. Some prefer to babywear also, which is great (I am not able to a lot due to the physical nature of hernia). I would still advise some area that belongs to the baby. Another reason I like a pack-n-play in the beginning is because I can store my supplies for the baby near it, for example baby wipes, burp clothes, toys, pacifiers etc. Picture this: if you are packing a desk with school supplies for your student to do school, you are also packing an area for your baby to be prepared for while you are schooling. Why is this important? One thing I have found is when you can decrease the amount of time you have to leave the physical school setting the less distractions and interruptions to your teaching. God has given us an amazing gift to multi-task and let me tell you, you will amaze yourself how much multi-tasking you get to do with teaching, and instead of worrying about that, lean into it. Prep your older student to know that they will get to do work independently from time to time, and be prepared as the teacher to say, “I will need you to work on these problems while I change the babies diaper and I am going to come back and check, I know you will do great, I am right here to support you.” Build up your older kiddos in self-learning, independent practice, and work they can accomplish without the guidance of you.
STEP TWO: Set up an infant area in your schooling areas. The less you have to leave the physical school setting the less distractions to your teaching.
Ok, we have our heart in the right posture, and we have our physical space set up, NEXT we need to prepare the expectations of our older student. There is so much adjustment when it comes to bringing a baby into the world. So much joy and yet so much change. You yourself are going through it all, and hormones on top of it, but we must not forget that our older child(ren) are also going through the change too. I have found that this time is exciting for the older sibling but with the newness there needs to be some teachable moments. If you baby isn’t born yet start talking about it now, and if your infant is here there is no time like the present to start talking and building up your child.
If you have an older boy, I have found mine have tended to thrive in the words I have used that talk about leadership, honor, and respect. So as you are sharing how school might look this year with the baby, use examples like, “I have seen how much you are growing up, you are becoming a wonderful leader in our family, during school there will be times I will ask you to lead by example and show mom how you can get your work done by yourself, then come show mom so we can review it together. Since you are a smart boy, and learning to become a man of honor I will want to check with you to make sure the answers are correct.” Also talk about what it might look like with a baby in the room, distractions and what not, help him learn how to self monitor. I have found boys also like if it I could sit next, near them even if I don’t have to say or teach anything the side by side is what they prefer.
If you have a girl student, I have discovered that they love to be the helper. I would use words like, it would be helpful to mommy if ….” They can tend to like to be a part of the baby’s team, so I would say, “can you come and read to the baby,” or “wow, I bet your baby (brother or sister) would love to see your hard work, when you are all done maybe we can show them together.” I have also noticed that girls tend to like their mom to sit across from them during the schoolwork time. So if you are nursing or holding baby, finding times to sit across from your older daughter creates in them a sense of closeness.
Regardless of gender, the older student will need to be taught what school time looks like, with grace to them on this journey, it is always best to have clear expectations for them. Expectations for both what they need to accomplish during school and for how you will be caring for them and for baby. It isn’t bad for the older student to learn patience to wait their turn if needed during school, or how to skip and come back to problems, and that life can sometimes be unpredictable and we must learn to adapt.
STEP THREE: Setting up the expectations for the older student. Explaining how school time will look, and how they can also enjoy their new baby’s company during school.
Alright, we got the mental, the physical, and the emotional pieces in play, so now what else? Well, with everything and every situation some learning comes with experience and adjustment to what your family needs, but what I would like to provide you with is some tips and tricks I have used that has been helpful!
Tips and Tricks:
- Breathe, just breathe when it feels overwhelming and remember that education isn’t all about paper and pencil. Consider this time a time where you are developing traits like: empathy, patience, caring for others, love, the beauty of life (science), and more.
- Your older kid WILL MAKE UP THE TIME you feel they have lost. They are not behind because of this season. Create self propelled learners, who are self directed and they will never be behind.
- Set yourself up for success, check your diaper stash, get yourself a coffee (or warm drink), a few snacks on hand (for you and older kiddo), diffuse some essential oils, light music in the background, whatever you need to do make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
- If you have time, start your older student earlier in the school year (maybe go over summer) and take the time off you need, this flexibility is one reason we homeschool.
- Ask for help! There is no shame is seeing if a grandparent could support you for a few weeks as you adjust!
- Create systems where your older student knows where things are and can be self-sufficient and create independence.
- Save the hardest subjects for when the baby is napping.
- Set your baby up on a schedule (SEE MY SLEEP SCHEDULE BLOG) and work around the baby for more one-on-one time.
- Use your husband as a resource, maybe for a few weeks, you can do some of the school in the evening when he gets home from work, you don’t have to get it all done in a certain time frame, be creative and flexible.
- ENJOY this time! It is a short season, get those snuggles in, and allow your older kids to enjoy it too! Show them their baby pictures and show them how fast it goes, say things like, “look at you now!” and “when you where this young.” Create a bond and connection to the baby.
- Allow the baby to be part of school, have the students read to the baby, or practice their colors and shapes by “teaching” the baby, get creative and include everyone in the process.
- Make sure to not miss the moments by being wrapped up into unrealistic expectations.