How Do You Do It All? – Part I

“I don’t know how homeschooling families do it all.”
“I like the idea of homeschooling, but I could never do it all.”
“I can’t even imagine how you do it all.”
“How DO you do it all?”

Do it all?!!

What does that mean? What exactly do homeschooling families do all day, and how do parents manage the needs of their children along with their other responsibilities?

Photo credit: Tania Spencer. Oak Meadow archives.
Photo credit: Tania Spencer. Oak Meadow archives.

Every family is different, so there is a wide range of possible responses to those questions. Here are a few insights into some possibilities.

Incorrect Assumptions

How do you find the time? Those who have not navigated homeschooling firsthand may have some incorrect assumptions about what homeschooling requires. They might think that, like a classroom teacher, the homeschooling parent must teach on their feet while their children sit at desks for five or more hours a day. It’s understandable that some would think this; Western culture doesn’t give much support for other models of learning. But homeschooling brings a great deal of flexibility.

Get Out and Socialize!

How do you meet your child’s social needs? Some people make the assumption that homeschooling happens entirely between parent and child at home. But this approach would exhaust many parents and bore many children!

Spending time with one’s parents is not equivalent to spending time with one’s peers. Institutional (public or private) school allows students to interact conveniently with numerous other students over the course of the school day, making school seem like a sort of one-stop-social-shop for same-aged children.

In contrast, most homeschoolers spend a good deal of time socializing out in the world, interacting with their community in various ways and learning from myriad interpersonal interactions. It often doesn’t take much effort to find a social niche through activities, hobbies, or interests shared between your child and other community members. Sometimes it takes persistence and creativity to make these connections.

If parents were the only source of social engagement, homeschooling would be a dull (and exhausting) proposition, indeed. And many parents would find it to be completely unsustainable. It’s a good thing there are other options!

Community Support

How do you teach everything? Many parents find support and relief in local homeschool groups that meet formally or informally to share teaching, learning, resources, planning tools, and ideas. This can help the load feel lighter. Some groups have parents take turns leading or organizing cooperative classes that shift with the needs of the students. If you have hard time finding a homeschooling group in your area, check with your local library (historically a great connecting hub for homeschoolers) or ask the state Department of Education if they can provide a list of contacts.

Photo credit: Phyllis Meredith. Oak Meadow archives.
Photo credit: Phyllis Meredith. Oak Meadow archives.

If there is no group near you, reach out and start your own! Your librarian, faith community, or local school officials (if they are supportive of homeschooling) may be able to connect you with other homeschooling families with similar needs. You might hang some posters, publish a blurb or ad in the local paper, or see if your town hosts an Internet bulletin board where you can post an inquiry. You can also reach out to find local families through Oak Meadow’s Facebook page.

Some parents also engage tutors, enroll their child in select classes, or cultivate mentor relationships to help with subjects they are less comfortable teaching.

Yearly Planning

How do you ensure your child meets long-term goals? One important aspect of the homeschooling version of “doing it all” is academics. Planning is key, especially if you have an eclectic approach that draws from a variety of sources to round out your curriculum. Your town or state may have an outline available that reflects grade-appropriate expectations. Oak Meadow offers a complete curriculum package for each grade level, making it easy to ensure that your child is getting all of the essentials each year. Our grade overviews also provide a great scope and sequence to follow for those who are designing their own curriculum.

Setting and reaching yearly educational goals may sound like a tall order, but there is support available. Talk with other parents to find out what they have done, or connect with them via social media channels. Oak Meadow’s distance learning school gives parents professional planning support throughout the year, and support is also available for unenrolled families.

If your state requires end-of-year documentation, it’s important to have a good system in place for collecting that documentation so that you or someone else can make sense of it at the end of the year. The first year of documentation is usually the hardest; once you have gotten through the first year’s submissions, subsequent years will be routine. If you are in the U.S. and unsure what your state requires from homeschoolers, check the HSLDA website.

If you expect your child will experience a stretch of homeschooling followed by a stretch of public schooling and you want your child to be on target for smooth academic entry into the public school, you may want to take the public school’s academic pace into account when planning your year.

Weekly and Daily Planning

How do you stay on top of all of the details? How can you manage the day-to-day and still meet your goals by year’s end? Careful planning is important to maximize your time. Your plan will depend on your expectations, your style (relaxed or structured), your child’s personality and preferences, your ability or willingness to be flexible, and the pace expected by your state or local authorities.

Here is where the concept of “rhythm” comes in. A short burst of quality academic engagement with your child will have more benefit than hours of detached disorganization. Take some time to observe your family’s natural patterns. When is each family member’s energy the highest, attention span the longest, interest in learning the most engaged? What non-academic tasks are essential in each day and need to be planned around? Allow these insights to inform a general daily rhythm that will help you get through each day and accomplish the year’s goals in day-sized bits.

Photo credit: Tania Spencer. Oak Meadow archives.
Photo credit: Tania Spencer. Oak Meadow archives.

Think also about your weekly and yearly commitments. Consider pockets of time in your week that can be used for academics. Craft a weekly rhythm that honors this ebb and flow. Some families enjoy diving right into academics first thing Monday morning and taking it easy on Fridays. Others find it works best to go slow on Mondays and hit their stride midweek.

Some families homeschool six or seven days a week; others four or five. Some homeschool year-round, while others focus on academics only through the traditional school year and take summers off. Some families take a break from academics for the entire month of December. You have the freedom to make your homeschooling schedule fit your family’s lifestyle.

Aligning Expectations with Reality

What does “doing it all” mean to you? Homeschooling is a process of constant revisiting and adjustment. Don’t be afraid to do some trial-and-error to find what works best for you and your child. If you try a particular approach and it feels overwhelming, adjust your expectations and try again. Ask other parents what works for them. Ask your children for their input. You may be surprised at their thoughtful responses! Phone counseling is available from Oak Meadow for those who would like experienced guided help creating a homeschooling rhythm. Keep your expectations realistic and trust that you can do this!

In Part II, we will explore the non-academic side of what “doing it all” means for homeschoolers.

Guess The Cover!

Here’s a great challenge from Harper Collins, publishers. I really had fun doing this with a bunch of friends! Guess the titles of the books just by looking at the covers.

Warning: The answers are at the bottom of the page, so if you don’t want to know the answers don’t scroll all the way down. Here’s the link:


THE WONDER BOWL: Ten Spring and Summer Nature Activities for Kids and Adults : The New Nature Movement

I hope you all are exploring the great outdoors! For those of you experiencing summer right now, I’ve found these great ideas for fun!

THE WONDER BOWL: Ten Spring and Summer Nature Activities for Kids and Adults : The New Nature Movement.


Homeschooling Multiple Children

How can I homeschool multiple children? If you’ve asked this question, you’re in good company. Meeting the needs of multiple children is a challenge for any parent. But homeschooling parents needs to be able to do it all day long. How is that possible?

There is No One Right Way

Homeschooling families run a wide gamut, from “regimented” to “easygoing.” Where does your family fit on this spectrum? Some parents would ideally prefer a more structured approach, but reality requires them to be more laid-back to make it work. Others find that a carefully planned rhythm helps them stay on track with everyone’s needs.The Cassell Family

Set the tone of adaptability in your home and model it for your children to follow. If you are calm, creative, and flexible in meeting their needs, they will learn in time to be patient and flexible in getting their own needs met.

Oak Meadow is designed to be highly adaptable. You may find that you want to go more in-depth with some lessons and skim through others. Some lessons can be modified so that children at multiple levels can learn from them. If two or more of your children are close in age or at developmentally similar levels, you might simplify things by working with them at a single level.

If you need help with adjusting Oak Meadow curriculum to meet your family’s specific situation, consider consulting with Oak Meadow’s experienced support team for suggestions.

Let Your Observations Guide You

The Roney FamilyThink about each of your children individually. What do they love? What engages each one’s attention like nothing else? Use your observations to create tools that help them stay occupied while you are working with the others. Finding safe, reliable ways to keep little hands and minds busy when you need it will go a long way. Oak Meadow’s Pinterest boards are full of helpful activity ideas.

Keep an open mind about the times of day when you work with your older children. Can attention be given to academics or projects after the younger children are in bed? Consider also when your youngest children need your attention the most – and least. Are they happiest sharing your attention mid-morning or just after a nap?

Create a Predictable but Flexible Rhythm

By using your children’s own rhythms as a starting point for the whole family’s rhythm, you can maximize the chance of success.

When everyone in the family knows what to expect, less time is spent in communication about what each day will hold. Provide a general rhythm to guide the whole family. Perhaps your homeschool rhythm flows best around mealtimes, naptimes, and bedtimes. Post a simple chart of your rhythm that everyone can understand and try to follow.

If you try something and it doesn’t work, use that information to adjust your approach and continue moving forward.

Capitalize on their Independence

In what ways can each child be independent? Independence for an older child might mean reading or working on lessons by themselves for a set period of time. For a baby, independence might mean naptime, time with toys on the floor, or an extended ride on someone’s back.

Can the olders amuse the youngers while the middles get needed attention? Even young “big siblings” can sometimes successfully engage very little ones with funny faces, rhyming songs, finger plays, stories, and toys. In some larger families, each older child is paired up with a younger child. If your older children are not yet at this stage, consider inviting a homeschooled teen to help you out on a regular basis.

Prioritize Thoughtfully

Just as important as the ways in which your children can be independent are the ways each is not able to work without your help.

Where do they need your attention most?
Make those moments count. You may need to spend some time observing and assessing your children to figure out where they need the greatest support.

If you have to ask a child to wait for your attention, acknowledge that you are asking them to do something important and helpful. The most successful cooperation happens when those involved feel their needs are recognized and valued.

Take Time to Recharge

Always remember to take care of your own basic needs so that you can be as patient, creative, and flexible as possible. Homeschooling multiple children is a mighty challenge. Try to connect with others who share your values, can relate to your struggles, and can offer ideas that you might not have thought of. You might consider homeschooling cooperatively with another family or group to share the load.

Maintain patience. Feed your own needs so that you have plenty of inner reserves when you most require them. Approach the issue of nurturing multiple children as a problem that can and will be solved.

Keep It All in PerspectiveThe DeWitt family

When you have a challenging day or week, remind yourself why you started homeschooling in the first place. Chances are your reasons for homeschooling will be much more compelling than your challenges. Seek ideas and support from others who have been in similar shoes.

Do all you can to savor the time you have at home with your children, because this time with your children is just a season.  Love your children, be responsive to their needs, do your best to be flexible and adaptable in your approach to homeschooling, and trust that it will be enough.

Sailing for PEACE


Building a network of people around the world on a 47,000 mile ocean journey to promote peace and a love for our planet, this is an amazing adventure to follow! Hokulea — Island Wisdom, Ocean Connections, Global Lessons – Hokulea

I encourage you to explore more about this project’s mission to “join and grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world.” There are many ways to participate in the journey. Explore how to do that here:


Taking time to make something

In our busy days, with so much going on around us, it can be a challenge to find the time to just enjoy making something. I like carving wood and wood burning and I love to knit too, but when the summer months come, the last thing I want to do is be inside. It’s too hot here in New Hampshire. Anyway, I really enjoy doing some crafts with friends outside at the picnic table on a summer afternoon.

If you like constructing things, coloring, or sewing, go to Made by Joel to find items to keep your hands busy on a summer afternoon! You’ll find all sorts of stuff to make for all ages!



Astronomy or Astrology?

In my previous post I wrote:

Last week I overheard a boy and girl having a conversation about different planets. They were looking at astronomy books in the library. The boy said, “It’s fun learning new facts about the different planets. I just love astrology.” What do you think? What should the girl reply?”

Thank you to all for your terrific comments!

I was hoping that the girl would say, ” I like learning new facts about the planets, too. I just love Astronomy.”

The two words are often confused by people. In the Oak Meadow science curriculum, you’ve learned that Astronomy is the study of the planets, stars, universes, galaxies, pulsars, and beyond. It’s a branch of physics.

“It does make a certain amount of sense. Astronomy is, strictly speaking, the measurement of the positions of the stars and planets, “ordering the stars,” so to speak. In the old days, interpreting those measurements was called astrology, but nowadays we interpret our measurements, not with numerology and unfounded conjecture, but with physics, and we call it astrophysics” This quote came from Britt Scharringhausen at the website, Ask an Astronomer.

In the the study of astronomy in the Oak Meadow 7th grade science curriculum, there’s an assignment to write a report on a constellation. It’s impressive when a student’s answer is based on the astronomical details and the astrological story of the constellation.

Check out: Curious About Astronomy: What’s the difference between astronomy and astrology?


Last week I overheard a boy and girl having a conversation about different planets. They were looking at astronomy books in the library. The boy said, “It’s fun learning new facts about the different planets. I just love astrology.”

What do you think? What should the girl reply? I’m looking for comments! There will be more posted about this in my next post. For now, LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!


Retellings of Fairy Tales

It seems as though every library shelf or bookstore shelf I see in the youth section these days is a retelling of a fairy tale. I LOVE THEM!

Maybe you’ve read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Peter and the Star Catchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, or The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.

I’ve just gotten A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce and I’m looking forward to reading it soon. It won ALA’s William C. Morris YA Debut Award. If you want to try some of these retellings, I’ve come up with a list for you. If you have some to add, please let us know!

Try these: Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, East by Edith Patou, Breath by Donna Jo Napoli, The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley, Straw Into Gold by Gary Schmidt, and the Sisters Grimm series.

Audiobooks for free this summer!

It’s going to be a great summer for listening to audio books! SYNC, a program for young adults ages 13 and over, is sponsored by AudioFile Magazine and it is offering two free audiobook downloads each week! The two titles are matched thematically with each other. For instance, TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman is matched with PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. If you like listening to audiobooks and you’re 13 years and older, download your free audiobooks each week. (You have seven days to do it.) Once you have them downloaded, you can listen to them any time! They are yours to keep.

The downloads operate through the OverDrive Media Console. You can download the software for free and it can be installed on most devices. Go to to find out more!