work and homeschool challenges work and homeschool lifestyle working homeschooler videos

Working, Homeschooling, and Household Management with Little Kids


Working and homeschooling sounds great when older kids can help share the workload of managing the home, but how does that work with little ones? If you have a child who is under eight years old, the key is spending the appropriate amount of time on the right activities. In this video, we talk about the sliding scale that happens across homeschool ages and how that looks for K-2nd grade.

Download the audio on Soundcloud or listen here:

Here is the transcript:

Well, hey there, it's Kelly Harbaugh with Working Homeschooler, and we have been talking lately about how you manage everything. If you're working and homeschooling, how do you get your work done and homeschool and manage the home - cooking, cleaning laundry - all of those things.

So previously, we talked about how that looks when you have older kids, ideally highschoolers or older middleschoolers who are able to get their work done and manage a lot of the chores for us, so it's a true whole family effort to manage the home and how that gives you more family time together. And that's how it worked for me, starting with older kids when we started homeschooling.

But many of you have a kindergartner, first grader, second grader, and I'm sure you're thinking, "Kelly, that sounds great for when they grow up. But what do I do right now? How do I get everything done when they're little?"

So here's the thing, you have kind of a sliding scale that happens, depending on the age of your child. As we talked about previously, your children when they are in high school, they have a lot of work to do. They may have four or five, six hours of school work to do. But they can do most of that independently, still have time to help with chores, and do activities. And you have a little bit of time that you need to help them or teach the next lesson in the evening. Review things, get them headed in the right direction, and kind of check in. Now, when you have kindergartners, they can't do as much independently. You might send them to their sitters with, you know, a little bit of work that they can do on their own or some games to play that will help them, but they're not going to be just going through their curriculum, like a highschooler would be checking off days and checking in with you and showing you what they did.

But the thing is, those early early grades, you really don't need to spend a whole lot of time, I mean, your whole formal instruction of school could be an hour. And it can look like this: Our reading time together; you sit down and read to them. Or if they are at the point where they are open to learning how to read, then it maybe a little bit of gentle reading instruction time while you're reading together. The other thing this could be is playing games together; have a collection of games that teach counting, teach colors, teach shapes - there's so much the kids can learn from playing games together. And so this can be school time that's spent together.

You can also use this time for nature walks, exploring the outdoors, going out and just seeing what you find, looking it up, Googling it, and learning about, you know, the leaves, the bugs, the trees; point out what's happening in the seasons.

You know, it's fall right now. And my little four year old and I were out last week; actually he was collecting acorns and putting them in a little spot for the squirrels. And we started talking about the leaves and how they're falling off the trees and talking about the seasons, there are so many things when they're little that you can just go off of their curiosity and spend time with them. So instead of working off of this preset curriculum, that they're going to have, say in school where they've been in school for six, seven, eight hours, probably with after school care time.

That's a lot of time; that's a lot of time for a young child to be in school. Personally, I don't believe that's very healthy. I think that's way more than they need. And it's designed to more to fit childcare needs than it is to fit the educational needs of children. And they're exhausted when they get home. And they're burned out. And then they bring home all this worksheet homework that you have to go over with them. It's just not the ideal way to educate a child. And it often can kill the love of learning.

Whereas, when you are homeschooling and you have worked out some form of childcare during the day, you can have a few gentle things that they are working on. But when you can home from work, you have your together time that you want to have anyway. And you're focusing on encouraging the love of learning in those love lower grades; that's the most important part of education is just encouraging them to love learning and understand that they can take their curiosity and take it to a book in the library or take it to Google with a parent and learn things.

My four year old's favorite thing is to ask me what animals eat. I don't know where this came from. But he loves to ask me, you know, "What do hippos eat? What do worms eat? What do butterflies eat?"

And we just asked Google and then we talk about it. And that just comes up periodically throughout the day. But you see, we are using his interest and his curiosity as a starting point. And we spend maybe a little time on reading instruction or math instruction, I go as far as his interest level stays in it; it might be five minutes. And usually he'll be interested to a point and say, Okay, that's enough. And then I know I've really exhausted the amount that I have his attention.

He's four, you know - four, or five, six, even seven, you've got to be very gentle about that, or they just get burned out on reading, they get burned out on math homework, and it's viewed like a job rather than something that they can be curious about and learn.

So I spent a lot of time on just that love of learning. But that piece is the key to you having your sanity and being able to manage the rest of the home, you're going to want to spend at least an hour with your child anyway. And if you're homeschooling, you're doing that on the things that you enjoy doing together, or that your child enjoys doing, and it is more of a parent child time than it is "Oh, we've got to complete these four worksheets for your teacher tomorrow." Do you see the difference?

So that already takes a little pressure off at the end of the workday. Now let's talk about managing the household, it's going to be a little bit harder, because you don't have older kids to take on some of that load. But that can still be "together time" you can do before your child goes to bed, which by the way, you can get them to bed at a decent time if you're not having to stress over assigned homework.

But before your child goes to bed, you can work on a couple things together. You can sort laundry together. You can - I know with with mine, whenever I'm cleaning, sometimes I'll give him a little bit of water and a spray cleaner. And you know a rag so that he can you know, spray below me where I'm cleaning and take part. And that's all just instilling a worth work ethic, it's together time, it's the whole biblical notion of teaching them as you walk along the way. As you rise up, when you lay down as you walk along the way, you're having those conversations side by side and working together.

Now I know that some of your chores are going to have to wait until you get that child to bed, and you are going to have a little more on your plate. But it's certainly going to be a little bit less stressful than if you didn't have time for the together time without the assignments. And you didn't have, you know, you don't have as much pressure on you. So, that helps.

Now, I will say that if you work the type of job where you have extra income and can afford some help in the house, whether that is somebody coming in once a month to deep clean or a weekly housekeeper or you just send your laundry out, there should be no guilt and getting that done if you can afford it. Because basically, you're just choosing outsource housework instead of outsource the teaching your children; you'll be doing one or the other.So no guilt in that.

But don't think that you necessarily have to be able to afford that to make it work. If you feel like you are not able to fit in your schoolwork because it's taking you three or four hours a day and you have little ones, then I think you need to reevaluate how you're doing school, and why you're spending that much time. Because I firmly believe that in those littles, I'm talking kindergarten to second grade, you're five, six, seven, - maybe early eight year olds - they really should not be bombarded with worksheet work, with seat work. You may have some; each kid is going to have their different learning style. But your kids should be learning a little bit more from play a little bit more from those one-on-one discovery conversations and sitting down and reading and snuggling together.

They should not feel like they're at a clerical job when they're seven years old. They really shouldn't. So I hope that helped you in your perspective, if you have a little one. I'm happy to answer any questions that I haven't answered, just post them send them to me - message me or post them right here. And I will address any of those additional questions.

Now, the next video we are going to talk a little bit more about those middle ones, maybe the ones that aren't quite ready for the responsibility of a highschooler but they need a little more time than your kindergarten first grade or second grader. So part three is coming soon. But until then, have a great day.