Homeschooling with a Newborn or Homeschooling on the Cheap
We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers around here. Not hard core mind you. We tend to go with an ebb and flow quite a bit like Melissa Wiley's Tidal Homeschooling. I have experimented with unschooling before and while I agree with many of the principals of self directed education, I find following many of Mason's teachings helps to inspire that learning. Giving the kid's good rich literature is very important. A child generally would not pick up a copy of A Child's History of the World or This Country of Ours, but after reading them a chapter out of one of these sources you are opening a whole barrel full of possibilities. A chapter on medieval England can open up discussions on castles, knights, and ladies. This can lead to the explanation of the feudal system. You can break out those great Usborne books about life in castles and the kids will happily explore.
As kid's get older they are more and more independent. My high schoolers really only check in with me once a week so I can see what they have worked on and what needs help. I may "force" them to watch Shakespeare or some documentary with me (but I also force them to watch 19 kids and Counting with me, hee hee), but there is only the occasional grumble and then it is followed by great discussions. This can also go for middle school, especially if you have a new baby in the house.
I am going to make one quick little comment in here before I move on. A new baby (or two!) is cause for celebration. God made it so that we have to slow down when a baby comes. There is a reason for it. We moms can end up in serious trouble if we do too much too soon, so it is necessary (as much as possible) to slow down. There is much to learn in just observing a newborn. Your children will gain a wealth of knowledge: character building, life skills, human anatomy, child care, etc... it goes on and on. So don't worry about school. There is time. Babies are only babies for such a short wee time, even though it may not seem like it while you are in the thick of it!
Now for the elementary set. Those discerning youngsters, especially the very young ones, like routine. They thrive on it. Newborns have their own rhythms and everyone in the house needs to understand you are all on baby time now. Baby's routine is everyone's routine.
But there are so many great resources out there for homeschoolers that can really help keep kids occupied and happily learning things while you are nursing, changing diapers, and folding burpie blankets.
The number one thing I can tell you is to do a lot of read alouds!
Some of out favorite free Librivox reads are:
And all you have to do is sit back and listen. Your child can than narrate back to you. Once they are done narrating have them go to the table and draw a picture about what they heard. The older kids, maybe 10 and up, can write a few sentences, too.
Two of our favorite readers are Karen Savage and Kara Shallenberg. Just browsing through their lists alone you will find a ton of great works like Lang's Fairy Books, Anne of Avonlea, Secret Garden, Tom Sawyer, Jane Austen, and a ton of Shakespeare!
IMPORTANT! One more hint to Librivox is the search engine inside Librivox is TERRIBLE. Search in Google: Librivox and the title of the book you are looking for. It is much easier to find that way.
Your child can do math drills on AAA Math, which is also free. You will see that it covers everything your child needs to know for whatever grade they are in. I have never really followed it, but I suppose it could be a good math program right there. I have only used it for drills for addition, subtraction, and multiplication. And it is indispensable when you are feeling overwhelmed and you may not have time for a really long math lesson, but feel like you are a bad homeschooling mom for skipping math. :)
Spelling City also has a free app on the iPad or iPhone for spelling games. I am not a big fan of the website itself, I found it hard to just find simple lists, but the app is great! Also you can find free hangman apps too for your device and the kids love it. And don't forget Mad Libs! There is an app for it too, but they are super cheap and what better way to teach your kids the parts of speech? GrammarLand (which I linked to up there, but I linked here to the hard copy on Amazon if you would like it here) is fun, and with Mad Libs you might have a great intro to grammar, baby or no!
Copy-work is the best and most inexpensive handwriting program there is out there. Grab a poetry book for kids, pick out a few lines a day and let them go till they have copied the whole poem over a week or so.
Most of what I have tried to mention here is free, except the Mad Libs, but I would also like to mention that puzzles and such can be a great way to teach the kids things in a fun way and they can do it pretty much on their own or with another sibling!
One great resource we LOVE is GeoWorld's puzzles. They have: GeoPuzzle World, GeoPuzzle U.S.A. and Canada , GeoPuzzle Asia , GeoPuzzle Africa and the Middle East, GeoPuzzle Europe!
Another resource I will share with you is a huge list of links I have compiled over the years. It is on the top in my header bar and it is the Schoolhouse links. You will find a ton of links to mostly free resources I often use or at least have used in the past.
One last thing. Play is so important! It is every curriculum combined into one glorious perfect educational tool. Make sure that there are more hours in the day for unstructured play than for sit down school work. Kids thrive with play, lots and lots of play.
So there you have it. Homeschooling with Baby or Homeschooling on the Cheap! We do a lot of these things off and on, especially in our busy times when the kids need some routine but there is just a lot going on. Learning is something that happens all the time. It is our job as homeschooling parents to inspire them to become lifelong learners. The great thing is that becoming a life long learner does not have to cost an arm and a leg!