Today homeschool moms struggle with keeping up their homes and providing healthy homecooked meals for their families while teaching their kids and getting them to all of the various activities they are involved in. I know many families who often resort to take out because it is just easier. I definitely understand juggling homeschool with other responsibilities. It’s hard to do both. But I’m committed to living off grid without electricity and running water. So how do I provide what my family needs without modern conveniences and still focus on my children’s education? I have definitely struggled with this, especially when my youngest was an infant.
I really don’t think that the mothers living on farms in the 19th and early 20th centuries filled their days with homeschooling. They were primarily concerned with the necessities of life: getting water, growing and preparing food, making clothing for their families, having babies, etc. They did it all without electricity or running water. Perhaps they had to carry their water from the creek. They probably made all of their clothes by hand with a needle and thread if they didn’t have a treadle sewing machine. Many of them even spun their own wool! And a lot of them probably didn’t know how to read or write themselves. They wanted better for their children and they must have been so happy when their communities got a schoolhouse and teachers to educate them. My grandma, who recently passed away at 100 years old, was one of those teachers. I remember her talking about this time of her life and how she enjoyed teaching!
So how do I make my children’s education my number one priority while living off grid? I want them to excel and have the opportunity to go to college, if they choose. My oldest recently finished first grade and I feel like it has taken me all that time to establish a schedule that works for us. I did not do a Kindergarten curriculum with Joshua, but instead decided to start first grade and take it slow. Kaleb was born and we moved off grid. I knew back then that it might take me two years to get through the first grade curriculum! But that was fine with me. He is turning eight in the fall. If he was in public school, he would be starting second grade then. I’ve very happy with all that he has learned, even though it has been a struggle for me to set aside time on a regular basis. He has become a wonderful reader and he is blowing me away with his math facts lately. I’m so excited about that!
I purposely have decided to spread out schoolwork throughout the year, without taking the typical summer break. This gives me so much more room to be able to take a week off here and there for family activities. There will be times this summer when I need to spend a lot more time in the kitchen canning our garden’s produce. We will probably do limited schoolwork at that time. We take trips to town for groceries about once a month that generally require most of the day. We don’t do schoolwork on those days. In the spring, we sheered our sheep. The boys desperately wanted to watch. We didn’t do schoolwork those days. We have so many learning activities on our farm. I love our traditional curriculum and I think it’s important, but I don’t want my kids to miss out on learning other things because they are stuck in the classroom. Schooling year round gives me the flexibility to fit schooling into our life and make sure they are learning everything that they need to in the “classroom”.
We also spread schoolwork out over the morning and the afternoon, taking a big break for outside chores. In the morning, we purposely work on subjects that require less hands on from me. I know that most moms get the majority of their schoolwork done in the morning. Living off grid creates some challenges with that. It takes me some time in the morning to do laundry (without washer and dryer) so I can get it out on the clothesline. I’ve found that what works for us is for Joshua to work on his writing/penmanship, english, and art at this time of morning. After I’m done with my inside chores, we head outside for our outside chores. While we are doing physical chores, we work on Bible memory, counting, spelling, and other things we can do orally. After this he has plenty of time for outside play and farm activities. In the afternoon (during my toddler’s naptime), we are able to have focused table time together. We work on math, reading, science, and social studies. For things like science, social studies, and art, we alternate days, so that we only do these 2 days a week. This is what works for us.
A seasoned homeschool mom once told me that first grade is one of the hardest when it comes to homeschooling. After finishing first grade with my oldest, I would have to agree. I was figuring out how to teach him and he was learning that a good part of his day had to be devoted to schoolwork instead of play. It has also been difficult for me because I’ve been trying to devote my attention to it while also completing all my other responsibilities. Being a homeschool mom can be demanding, but I’m so relieved to finally have a schedule that works for us! I know that my son is excelling with his schoolwork and learning so many important things outside of the classroom as well.