Homeschooling Through Difficulties

Homeschooling Through Difficulties

Becoming ill in the first week of our homeschool year inspired me to write about homeschooling through difficulties. When we begin to homeschool, we think about it with eyes of optimism and idealism. It doesn’t take very long for life to come in and change our plan. Illness, birth of a child, death in the family, moving, and more will happen, and because homeschooling is intertwined with our life, it therefore becomes a part of our homeschooling.

Here are some tricks I’ve learned to help me in dealing with those times that make homeschooling an extra challenge.

 If you really need a break – take one. No matter what the timing.

I know this should be obvious but for some it may not be. Therefore, I think it is important to say that sometimes we just need a break and have to take one. It will happen at the most inopportune time; take one anyway. Make up for it when you can.

  Keep things in perspective.

Homeschooling is a big responsibility and a huge undertaking. At times it can get a little overwhelming. Check your perspective. It’s important that we work diligently and regularly as we educate our children, but don’t stress over it. Our children mostly need love, care, guidance, and direction. So the education is secondary.

After teaching my first two children through the high school level, I realized that they forgot most of the specifics about what they learned in elementary. Only skills and basic knowledge are retained, and things they had a special interest in. So don’t try to cover everything. It’s not humanly possible. Rather, like a tripod, provide them with a balanced  foundation on reading, writing, and math.

  Homeschool lite.

This is what we call it at our house when for some reason a regular homeschool day can’t happen. After  homeschooling many years I have finally accepted that things can’t always be ideal, but it took time to realize that. Homeschooling still happens. When I can’t do a full schedule, we always try to do reading and math. Sometimes it also includes subjects that can be easily accomplished without my instruction, like handwriting, a computer based program, or a work book page.

  The read aloud.

You can keep right on learning by reading together. With the direction of a book you can pull out comprehension questions, vocabulary, grammar and spelling and do them all verbally. Research ideas, discuss facts from the book, or even come up with a writing prompt. Don’t make things more complicated than they need be.

  The homeschool journal.

We homeschooled three years with no actual curriculum. It was the most I feel we ever accomplished. Of course we added math but for everything else we journaled. We alternated science and history topics weekly, the kids researched them and wrote mini reports.We did nature studies and went hiking, then wrote about what we found. For language arts they did “free writing” and book reports.They drew illustrations for the books I read aloud, copied poetry, wrote dictations, and read a ton of great literature. These are some things that can be accomplished even under the most irregular circumstances. All you need is a hardback journal for each child.

   Educational games.

When homeschooling is difficult, it’s a great time to pull unused games, projects, and puzzles off the book shelf. Perhaps it’s time to allow your child to explore these activities without your help. Kids are constantly learning, so everything can be educational.

   Educational movies and documentaries.

These are fabulous for filling in and reinforcing the topics you’re studying. Get in the habit of selecting videos for the week that you can fall back on should something come up. They are great supplements–especially for certain types of learners. You may also want to watch the movie of a book you have recently read. Your child can write a review on the movie or compare and contrast the book to the movie.


I know many people who get much of their homeschooling done in the car. This wont help if you’re sick, but if you’re busy due to circumstance it surely can. Get what you can on audio. Tons of books are available. We regularly listen to our poetry, Latin, and science songs while driving.

Ihope that these suggestions will encourage you and offer some ideas for homeschooling with and through life’s challenges. You probably have your own helpful hints for homeschooling through tough times. We’d love to hear them. How do you get school done when life throws you that curve ball?

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  1. Stephanie,
    I like everything that you wrote in this post. Very practical stuff. Keeping perspective – yes! The relationship with our children outweighs the focus on education. Recognizing that it is impossible to teach it “all” is a freeing concept. Opens my eyes that perhaps I should move on from a particular math concept that we can’t quite master. I’ve always been a proponant of the idea that when a child is ready to learn a certain subject/concept, they will learn it. As they get older (11 and 13) I realize more and more that truth giving them a tripod of education upon which they can build.
    My favorite two suggestions: The Read Aloud and The Homeschool Journal.
    Thank you for writing.

    I’m sorry that you became sick this year and I hope it isn’t serious.

  2. Wow – three years without a curriculum! You are brave and that might just be what I needed to hear to trust myself to try something new. Thanks

  3. Your post gives me hope because it is one fear I have of the future. What if I’m not able for some reason to carry on the schedule – or carry on the way we have. I agree that math is the core and all the other things will get taken care of. There are some days we just love to devote to a book and if we’ve handled math, I don’t stress. I hope your illness was short lived and all is well.

  4. What a great post!! Thank you so much for sharing! We’ve had an insanely hard year. It just seems to be one thing after another. One thing that has helped us keep our heads above water is using technology and the internet in our homeschool. It takes a lot of the pressure off of me, and I know the kids are still getting what they need.

  5. I love what you said about the tripod. So many parents, and teachers for that matter are lulled into thinking that the children are in a race. It is creating unnecessary stress for teacher and child.

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