Monday, January 31, 2011

My perspective on homeschooling while pregnant

Pregnant with twins; 25 weeks
Every pregnancy is different just like every homeschool family is different. Similarly, no two combinations of pregnancy and homeschooling will ever be the same, even within the same family. My family and I started homeschooling 2 years ago and being that my youngest is nearly 4, this school year is the first I have ever attempted while pregnant. For laughs and perhaps a little bit of insight, I thought I should put fingers to keyboard and pen my thoughts and feelings on this homeschool year as I attempt it with my ever expanding belly.

I should begin by telling those of you that do not regularly keep up with this blog that we are expecting not one, but two daughters in just over 2 months from now. I am 25 weeks pregnant with identical twin girls so my pregnancy thus far has not been a typical pregnancy for me. Despite the struggles and the challenges however, my kids and I have done our best to get school accomplished to the best of our abilities on any given day.

After moving to a new house in late September I was already in the beginning stages of all-day sickness. I was approximately 7 weeks pregnant when we completed our move and faced the daunting task of unpacking, organizing, sorting, and purging. Soon after moving however my constant nausea ramped up to a whole new level that I have never experienced with my previous two pregnancies. I was essentially bed ridden for days on end and relied heavily on my oldest son to feed and hydrate myself and my children. He would bring me breakfast and water/gatorade as I requested. He would also make breakfast and lunch more days than not for himself and his younger two siblings. He was an incredible blessing for those couple of months when I was unable to even sit-up or walk around much less make a meal for my family.

Despite the severe nausea I tried my best to still get some school done more days than not during the week. For my oldest who is in 4th grade this year getting school accomplished was much easier than for my first grader and preschooler who rely more heavily on me to guide and teach them.

For my 4th grader, 1st grader, and preschooler I relied heavily on the following tools and personal attitudes to get us through the toughest part of this pregnancy:
  1. a student spiral-bound organizer. At our local homeschool convention this past summer, before I even knew I would be homeschooling this year pregnant I purchased the student planner from Christian Light Education (CLE) for my oldest. CLE's planner is simple yet very effective, especially for upper elementary students who are just learning to be organized and take responsibility for completing their assignments with a little less guidance from Mom.
    1. I would write weekly assignments for my son with as much detail as I could muster considering my nausea. He always knew he could ask me a question at anytime to clarify the assignment or get help on a problem.
  2. relax and be flexible. When I began to feel down or that I was failing my kids by not being able to actively teach them like last year I had to remind myself that this is a season in our life. Not engaging in the most elaborate lesson plans or unit studies this year is OK, this is where God wants my family and I to be right now and despite everything going on around us my kids are still learning. Even if not one book got cracked on a particular day, I can guarantee that each of my 3 kids still learned a few important life skill lessons.
  3. taking a few months off to get through severe pregnancy nausea will not make or break my children's homeschool education. The beauty of homeschooling is that we can get school work and learning  done at anytime. We are not constrained by the public school clock. Despite doing relatively light book work the first few months of this school year my 4th grader completed his math curriculum for this year today. Yep, you read that right. Once my nausea subsided and I came back to the world of the mobile and able I was able to ramp up his assignments and get him back on track, so much so that he is now actually ahead of the game this year. Homeschooling on the weekends, later in the day, and doubling up on assignments are all great ways to get back on track from a season in your life where you find yourself falling behind on schoolwork a bit.
  4. don't stress! Honestly, I know this is easier said than done. Personally, I am only a couple of months past those months where I was stressing over failing my children because I was laid up with this pregnancy, unable to fully devote myself to them and their education. It all worked out beautifully though! I should have never stressed over what I wasn't providing for my older children but instead should have focused on what I was able to provide for them; namely a loving Mother deeply devoted to them, a warm house, and the ability to teach them compassion and caring for one another even if I was relegated to the couch 90% of our day.
Homeschooling while pregnant has two distinct perspectives. There is the perspective of the children which I have covered above. However, as I have progressed along this homeschooling while pregnant journey I have also learned that my personal perspective is equally important in this process. Not only do I have to think of my children that are growing and talking in front of my eyes and ears but I also need to think about the two precious girls quickly growing in my belly. Namely, I need to also take care of myself for their sake in addition to caring for the needs of my other children. This was a tough lesson to learn at first. As my belly continued to grow I found myself needing more and more rest. Throughout much of this pregnancy I have found myself  "winging it" through our school day. I do not have the energy to plan, print, and implement beautiful lesson plans and the materials required to execute these lessons. But that is ok!! My kids are still learning despite all the pretty bells and whistles that we did last year. To some extent this year has been better than last year because we have been more relaxed and I have allowed my children to self-direct a bigger portion of their learning. We have learned about things like inventors, beetles, birds, and much more that I know I would not have planned otherwise if I was "directing" our learning for the year. What a blessing this adventure has been! 

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