Homeschooling during pregnancy is possible, but I’ve had to ditch unrealistic expectations. This is my 4th pregnancy and 1st time being pregnant while homeschooling. We have a 7.5, 6, and 4 year old, but only the oldest two are doing any formal school.
I knew I couldn’t keep up our usual pace being sick and exhausted, especially first trimester!
And yet, when I stop and see the big picture, plus all the all the unconventional ways my kids are learning during this season…I’m reminded that this is WHY we homeschool!
So good news! You are not ruining your kids education long term by taking a big break or letting them follow their own interests for a while. And I hope that you can find a few ideas here to get you through this short season.
And remember… you are giving them a pretty big gift…a sibling!
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You can’t get it all done, but your kids are still learning
I’m not going to tell you how you can get it all done, because you can’t. I’m not going to tell you to what will work for your family, because I can’t.
But I will help you to realize why your kids will be fine after this. Why you NEED to give yourself grace. And I’ll share a few awesome ways that I saw our homeschool evolve that required less of me.
If you are wondering if it would just be easier to send them to public school, maybe so. But do read my thoughts on the pros and cons of homeschooling while you decide.
Realistic tips for homeschooling during pregnancy
This pregnancy, 10 AM-2 PM and I were not friends. Any energy I had was spent, and my body was begging for a nap daily. I felt SO tired, and didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone.
Remember, sometimes survival looks like feeding your kids ramen for lunch and cereal for dinner!
Yep, that’s coming from me, a nutrition major back in the day. Everyone will be fine. Bigs will learn to help the littles. 1st trimester of pregnancy is about survival here. And for some of you that will last a lot longer.
I don’t feel bad about it. Growing a human here people… and it’s tiring!
Ok, now that you’ve let some of the guilt go about raising ferrel children for a short period of time, how about some school survival tips?
1. Read more books out loud, and get books to spread around the house
It’s ok to just read books for a while! Reading out loud can get pushed to the bottom of the to do list, especially if you are prioritizing curriculum you purchased.
But it’s SO good for your kids, especially if you have to pick just one thing you can do. Reading out loud:
- Teaches your kids to love books.
- Vocabulary improves.
- Their writing will improve.
- Listening skills develop, and attention span too.
- You create teachable moments to talk about without having to experience them.
- Introduce other cultures and traditions through books!
- Kids can learn history and remember it well (we aim for living books that are story form and not just informational).
- It’s quality time spent as a family.
Sometimes I have my 7.5 year old read to my 6 year old, even though he doesn’t love it. It gives me a break and lets him practice reading out loud too.
I also find that if I lay books out with lots of pictures, the younger kids pick them up and flip through them just for fun! Usually it’s when they are feeling bored, which is why it’s ok to let your kids be bored.
Sometime’s my 4 and 6 year old will just be tracking a story by flipping through the pictures.
2. Audiobooks count too, and keep things quiet
Another tool I clung to this pregnancy when I didn’t want to read out loud…audiobooks! Mainly for my oldest, but that’s because it’s harder to keep my 6 year old’s attention for long when she’s read to.
I LOVE our portable bluetooth speaker for this! I get all of our audiobooks free from the library through a phone app, and can just connect it to the speaker.
A few that both my 6 & 7.5 year old liked together was The Wizard of Oz, Little House In The Big Woods, and anything by Beverly Cleary.
Check out this giant list of quality audiobooks by Sarah Mackenzie from Read Aloud Revival.
3. Ask your spouse to take on one thing
On occasion I’d ask my husband to do my daughter’s reading lesson with her in the evenings or on weekends…it was such a relief!
Since that was the base of her kindergarten year, I felt like she was still able to see progress.
Without his help, things would have just moved a bit slower. She would have learned to read later. And that would have been ok too. 🙂
He also stepped up to take the kids on a walk on days I didn’t leave the house. It helped the kids get out energy when I didn’t have any. He’s the best!
4. Ditch a few subjects, and chop out busywork
At one point first trimester, I found myself doing almost no formal lessons, and then eventually added things back as I could.
I saw that a lot of things could easily be learned 6 months from now or a year from now. The timeline wasn’t urgent. They were still benefiting from exploring and using their imaginations and having books around.
Pregnancy helped me to identify the bare minimum I’m comfortable doing, as well as anything that might be “busywork”.
I cut out busywork. Guilt free chop! Granted, I have very young kids so the pressure is far less than having a high schooler that has to keep up.
For me, that meant:
- No planned preschool activities from our preschool curriculum for my youngest. I just let him play!
- No formal science. Instead we watched nature shows. And I grabbed different books at the library my oldest might read, say a comic book on bacteria or tornados. If he read them because he wanted to, awesome! If not…they went back.
- I didn’t use the monthly watercolor art subscription I paid for.
- No cute extra projects that require gathering books or crafts or a matching dessert like you’ll find on Instagram. Nope nope.
- Our nature study curriculum went on hold.
My aim was language arts, math, and as much reading out loud as I could muster.
But honestly many days we just did life together.
If you live in a state that requires a ton of documentation for each subject (mine doesn’t require any), then check out some unschooled homeschool Facebook groups. They are excellent at identifying what kids are learning even when it’s unscheduled.
Which leads me to…
5. Record your homeschool day so you can see that your kids are learning
When you feel like your homeschool is failing because mama’s pregnant, write down evidences of learning at the end of the day. It can go in a notebook, or this super inexpensive homeschool planner I use.
At the end of the day, I write down what we actually do in my homeschool planner. (I don’t preplan our our weeks…I only write down what we did after the fact).
- If we played a board game, I wrote it down.
- When my son read a book worth recording, I wrote it down.
- If my daughter did Art Hub For Kids on YouTube, I wrote it down.
- If I read a few pages of something from the couch out loud, I wrote it down.
You get the idea.
This allowed me to see how much casual learning was happening and helped me to chill out about the work books we weren’t doing.
6. Embrace the educations shows and apps
If ever there’s been a time I used screens in our homeschool, it’s been during this pregnancy!
Pregnancy is the BEST time to let someone else teach your kids while you sit back and watch.
We have younger kids, so we recycled back through some science and nature shows like Wild Kratts, Octonauts, and Magic School Bus.
We don’t let our kids watch YouTube unattended, but my husband is awesome at watching science channels with them for fun in the evenings. A few science channels we like:
And then there’s the world of learning apps, which I’m a little new to and overwhelmed by. Here’s a BIG list of educational apps to get ideas.
For now, I mainly let them play PBS kids app. It’s totally free, and the kids can pick learning games with characters they know. If you have a learning app your kids love, please share in the comments!
7. Review & unschool for a while
When I was sick and tired, (and honestly lacking a love of homeschooling at the time) we leaned heavily on review and unschooling. It gave me the flexibility I needed.
Unschooling in a nutshell is letting kids learn what they are interested in without forcing curriculum. You provide ways for them to learn more about those things while keeping unschooling legal!
We played a lot of these math games.
We sang skip counting songs.
I blew the dust off of a few puzzles, like our world puzzle. It’s how the kids have learned the oceans and continent names!
They wrote letters to grandparents. I’d write down what they said and have them copy it into a letter. A few sentences was plenty to tire a little hand out!
8. Stay home more
Give yourself a pass to stop taking your kids everywhere and doing all the things! They’ll be fine.
We missed a lot of playdate opportunities and outdoor adventures during the first trimester. I skipped our Wild And Free group for about 3 months. It was too much on top of our other weekly nature co-op.
There was a sense of relief in staying home.
My kids were fine! They seemed to understand mommy is growing a baby and has to sit on the couch and rest.
I was still around to chat, read out loud, do lessons from the couch…but I was just not moving far.
I wanted to spend my small amount of productive energy on school, a load of laundry, some basic cleaning, and not much more!
9. Take a nap during rest time
During 1st trimester of pregnancy, I tried to squeeze in some kind of nap every day during their rest time. I found that napping in their room helped them to go to sleep quickly which was awesome!
And on a desperate day if the then 3.5 year old didn’t nap, I’d let them watch a movie with a snack while I laid down.
Our trick to getting older kids to nap
This pregnancy we have big kids, so my 7 year old has quiet time and the other two nap in the same room. I aim for naps at least 50% of the days or both get cranky and very whiney.
My youngest still naps about 4 days a week. I get him to go down by having my 6 year old begin nap time with him in the room they share. I tell her she can sneak out to play quietly AFTER her little brother falls asleep. The funny thing is…she almost always falls asleep too. She wakes up first, and quietly comes out.
They sleep from around 2pm-3pm, sometimes longer. Fan on, black out curtains shut, and the doggy time to wake clock set for 1 hour. If they are talking I reset the clock.
We have always been freakish about keeping naps and rest time here till around age 6. It’s not always been easy, but it’s paid off big time. Here’s how we got 3 kids to nap every day when they were 5, 3, and 1.
10. Put away toys and crafts that create a ton of mess
Since I was on the couch so much first trimester and struggling to bend over 3rd trimester, clutter became a big deal.
So did micromanaging the kids to pick up their own clutter and paper scraps and toys.
My solution (maybe not the best) was to put select things that bothered me away for a while.
We clearly have more work to do on teaching our kids to pick up after themselves (habit training 101 not mastered)!
So for a while I put my daughters scissors and paper up. The Legos had to go away for a few weeks. And I did a big Goodwill drop off. The kids are less overwhelmed with less mess too!
11. Two words: Grocery Delivery
I know not everyone can do this. It’s a luxury and I’m thankful this is even an option. But, having the majority of our groceries delivered has taken one thing I do not like doing (with or without kids) off my plate!
It gives me at least 2 hours back each week to rest at home or get more done here. If this isn’t an option and you don’t like grocery shopping, there’s always grocery pick up which is free!
12. Habit training is school…it counts
Sometimes I wonder how the term “habit training” comes off to non homeschoolers…
Because all kids are learning how to behave at home no matter how long they are at home for.
But when you’re home ALL DAY together, man does this become a big deal!
When I’m sitting most the day not feeling well, I see what needs worked on.
I see my kids not put their shoes away, leave dishes at the table, stay in jammies all day if I let them, and take out new toys before putting old ones away. I see what food they can (or can’t) make for themselves.
It’s a stinging reminder to me that habit training will serve our home (and my kids’ futures) better than a LOT of other school things I could be teaching.
So while you’re home anyway, help your kids help you through pregnancy by working on ONE new habit at a time. For starters, you can see what we’ve been working on:
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Leave me a comment on how this pregnancy is going for you or if you have anything that’s getting you through homeschool! Also be check out my favorite newborn essentials for baby #4.