Curious Husband asked on the last post:
I've been thinking about doing this with my wife, but I have always thought about how to handle the baby during "school." How do you do it?
Also, does school happen 5 days a week or can that be flexible as well? My wife just started working as a nurse 3 days a week.
Do you have a special room or area set up for "school"?
I'm so glad you asked. Sometimes these things can be hard to fathom until and unless you see them in person.
It depends what age baby we're talking about here. When I have an infant, she is wherever she needs to be. Sometimes that is in bed asleep, nursing, sitting in my lap, being jiggled on my hip, crawling on the floor, or playing in the playpen. I've never had a difficulty folding new babies into the routine of school, and my older children see babies as a part of life and will usually continue working if I have to leave the room for a diaper change or to put the baby down for a nap.
Older babies can be a bit more work because they like to be the center of attention and frequently (read ALL THE TIME) get into things and places they shouldn't. That's why I'm a big fan (huge!) of play-yards and safety gates. You will save yourself and your wife a lot of time if the littlest one is in a confined area which has been baby-proofed and is well equipped with non-electronic toys. (This is really so important as the tinny sounds of electronic noise will distract even the most dedicated student, so forget an 8 year old boy being able to work with a lot of racket.)
I also make sure to schedule anything which is hands-on, messy, or requires all my attention for times when the baby is sleeping. Of course, this means that you have to be flexible about what time these projects will actually occur. The day you plan on the little one sleeping from 1-3 is the day he will opt for a morning nap. Do the project then!
Key to homeschooling with a small child in the house is to find a place within yourself of calm-like zen. Your day will never go as you planned it. That's important so I'm going to repeat it. Your day will never go as you planned it. Sometimes in good ways, like when the 7 year old suddenly "clicks" on a math concept and does a week's worth of work in one hour, or in bad ways such as the day the 2 year old threw up on the school books. (It's its own kind of science experiment to figure out how to get puke out of textbooks.)
Bottom line? Homeschooling with a baby requires adaptability and a sense of humor, but your children will learn great things from it. For instance, my eldest two can study almost anywhere in any kind of chaos. They've learned how to tune out distractions. (That should be a huge help in college.) My #3 has learned he can't tune out anything and that he has to be responsible enough to know when he's overwhelmed with outside commotion and remove himself to his room until the chaos calms down. And me? I had to learn that I'm not perfect, I'm totally fallible, I can laugh in the midst of it all, and that occasional chaos doesn't make me a failure. This is a marathon not a sprint. The results are measured at the end of it all.
The elementary school kids do schoolwork 4 days a week. I use Fridays for field trips, playdates, doctor appointments, errands, and to catch up on anything we fell behind on for the week. You do not have to do school 5 days a week, and it doesn't all have to be your wife doing it. You could read then their history text at bed time on the days when your wife is working. (Story of the World is written like a delightful story book. It's my favorite elementary age history program. I have issues with their handling of the Reformation, but the rest of it is superb.) You just have to think out of the box to make it work. I've never seen the place which mandated that all schoolwork had to be completed consecutively or that it had to be done during certain hours. I've seen many working parents successfully homeschool. They simply have to throw out the traditional school template and figure out what works for their family.
(As an aside....we have been known to take the day off and declare it a national "We're not doing school today or one of you might die" holiday. They're also known affectionately as Mental Health Days. You have to build the extra into your calendar the way the public schools build in snow days. Know when you've reached your limit and take the day off.)
We do not have a school room although I do have a designated school shelf for books and supplies. We do most of our work at the kitchen table or around the coffee table in the living room. We have had a school room in the past, but we ended up not using it or liking it. The kids want to be wherever I am, so they tend to follow me as I move around the house. I can not sit still for hours on end. It's the ADD I'm sure. I get restless and bored and then a little cranky. We're all happier if they can come into the living room and sit on the couch or on the floor and work at the coffee table as I fold clothes, and then move back to the kitchen while I make lunch and wash the dishes.
I do know families with school rooms and they prefer them. It works for their families, and I'm always a little envious of their designated space and that they get to leave the model of the City of Troy out until they finish building it. I just remember how trapped I felt to be in the back room all day and prefer to move around a bit more.
C.H. I hope that answers your questions. Please ask me any more you may have. That goes for the rest of you, too. I don't pretend to know everything or even the beginnings of everything, but I'll share with you the things I have learned and which work for us.