When a Life Change Affects Your Homeschool

When we start homeschooling we have the perfect vision.

When you began homeschooling you probably worked very hard to get things right from the start. The choice curriculum, the lovely homeschool area, the perfectly sharpened pencils. You had the right vision for your homeschool. And if life could stop happening around us, perhaps things could be just as we envision them. But life doesn’t stop happening. Our lives look different from one season to another.  They are different for everyone, and yet we have more in common than we may think. We are not alone in our life struggles.

When a Life Change affects your Homeschool


Here are just a few examples of common seasonal life changes:


  • birth of a child
  • job change
  • a move
  • struggles with depression
  • death of a child, spouse, or parent
  • caring for an elderly parent
  • divorce
  • illness or injury
  • special needs issues
  • behavioral or psychological problems of a loved one

Homeschools aren’t perfect.

Starting out it’s easy to envision a perfect homeschool and not realize how life events will challenge that vision. There is a belief that homeschoolers should ALL be perfect. But the truth is that as homeschoolers we have our fair share of problems and concerns. Homeschoolers aren’t perfect, and therefore we should never judge one another. It’s easy to see the mom who is going through a divorce and assume it’s by some fault of her own. It’s easy to think the mom whose teen is battling drug addiction didn’t do a good job of disciplining her troubled child. It’s easy to judge. In reality life is so complex and often there are many factors at play. With humility, instead of judging others, we must try to see ourselves in their situation so that we can ask how to help.

What can we do if we find ourselves going through a change that is affecting our homeschool?

After homeschooling a while, we may find ourselves unexpectedly dealing with one of these “seasonal changes” which forces us to rethink our homeschooling approach. When that happens we must assess our circumstances and make the necessary adjustments. Perhaps there are some situations during which we can’t continue to homeschool. That is something only we can discern.  Often a simple change of method or approach can get us through a difficult season. For most stressful situations a gentle attitude is the best way to approach homeschooling. By this I mean emphasizing the process of learning and not an intense academic schedule. For some it may mean unschooling, delight directed learning, or simply going back to the basics such as reading, writing and arithmetic. For another it may mean focusing on what a child needs to work on the most. Simplicity is the key to survival here. If you are going through a difficult time, you don’t need to be stressed out by a lofty curriculum geared more for optimum circumstances.

A few practical ideas for a gentle homeschool approach.

Here are just a few small ways to ease the homeschool grind without losing valuable learning time.

  1. Read. Simply spend time around and reading books. Read aloud, listen to your child read, and have him read independently.
  2. Write. Use journals for every subject and simply have your children do a little research on a topic. Do dictation or copywork.
  3. For math, play games or find a program designed for your child to do on her own.I have found Teaching Textbooks to be superb for this.
  4. For science take walks, study nature, and record findings in a  Nature Notebook. If that doesn’t appeal to you, use educational videos.
  5. Do simple things like looking over maps in the car. Recognize the teaching moments when opportunity arises in every-day life.
  6. Listen to educational music, books, or language lessons on tape while in car when on errands.

One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my 12 years of homeschooling experience has been learning to be flexible and enjoy homeschooling even when things don’t go my way. But life has taught me, and is still teaching me, how to accept and even appreciate the things I can’t control. I am working on applying various strategies as needed for every season of life so that I can keep homeschooling even through the difficult seasons. How do you deal with life changes in your homeschool? Do you find a change of approach is helpful? Share with us how you have had to change.

It’s important to note that relaxing your homeschool may not be a blanket solution for all situations. For example, finding out your child is ADHD may require a more relaxed homeschool mom to change her approach to being MORE structured. Hip Homeschool Mom author Megan will be tackling that topic next month. So if your situation calls for going from less structure to more structure, you may want to watch for it! Feel free to comment on having to become more structured as well. We would love to hear how you’ve handled that situation.

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  1. We homeschooled through my husband’s heart transplant and took a more relaxed approach. When he was in the hospital, I wasn’t even home with the kids and then there were the long days of recovery and doctor appointment days. We did what we could and kept track of it. Only by looking back in my iCal can I see how much we did.

  2. We homeschooled through my husband’s heart transplant and we took a relaxed approach. When he was in the hospital, I wasn’t home and my MIL was in charge of the kids. Then there were the long recovery days and doctor appointment days. We did what we could and kept track of it. It’s only by looking back in iCal that I can see what we did, and being able to see it was/is hugely helpful.

    1. What an awesome witness to a situation like this. You are very encouraging. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Just what I needed to read as we prepare to welcome baby # 3 into our family in a matter of days. I’m very nervous about the change in dynamic, so thank you.

    1. This will be our first year homeschooling and we are expecting our third baby in our second month of “school”. Thanks for this post, exactly what I needed to read and need to continue to think about (and not stess over!).

  4. I found I did not have enough structure or consistency so I started co teaching with a friend who had children close in age to my own. What a difference! Having a good friend to be accountable to and doing fun projects together allowed me to feel less stress and more confident in my role as educator.

  5. We had our fourth child in November and while I initially thought we would take a couple weeks off, it turned into a month. I love that we can learn anytime and we choose to homeschool year round which takes some stress off. It has been quite the adjustment with another baby but it is still such a blessing to get to share in my kids’ “AHA” moments!

  6. We had a house fire 18 months ago and lost everything. When we moved into our new house, we decided to take it easy for a bit. We were VERY blessed that they replaced most of our books and a friend purchased the rest for us. While waiting for supplies we played a lot of board games, read a ton of books and had a couple fun field trips. We settled back into our school year and even finished on time. Now we get to move to our new “permanent” home and we are all very excited. We still listen to books in the car, it’s kind of our new thing! It really allowed us to be a family during a huge upheaval in our lives!

  7. I have had to learn not to try so hard, period. When I can relax, things just flow naturally. Ideas come to me in dreams when I can just relax.

  8. I’ve been home schooling for almost 4 years and now my 14 year old is refusing to live with me because I won’t put him back in public school. I had planned on home schooling my younger children and now I’m really afraid to.

    1. Jennie, I’m sorry about what you’re going through! If you’re afraid to homeschool your younger children because you’re afraid they won’t like it and will want to leave too, I can tell you that children who are homeschooled from the start usually do fine with it. Older children who are transitioning from public or private school to homeschooling are almost always the ones who have a hard time with it. Also, you might want to consider (if you haven’t already) having a calm discussion with your 14-year-old to find out why he wants to go back to public school. Maybe you two can agree to hear the other out and then to discuss your reasons after that. I’m praying for you and your family!

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