By Kate Harrold
WONDER-MUM OF SEVEN shares her regimented HOME-SCHOOLING TIPS with THOUSANDS of panic-stricken parents desperate for advice during the pandemic.
Stay-at-home mum, Kristen Schroder (35) from Mississippi, USA, is somewhat of a home-schooling expert having started home-schooling her children four years ago. The busy mum has had seven children in just eight years – yet she still finds time to share her home-schooling experiences with her 142,000 Instagram followers.
Kristen wasn’t home-schooled herself growing up. It was only when she had children that she decided home-schooling was to be her new vocation, and the best way she could take care of her children, husband, and home.
A typical home-schooling day for Kristen begins at 9am – shortly after breakfast; the children spend an hour learning before they take a short break. After this, they resume any study. The rest of the day is spent playing, reading, or doing extra-curricular activities with friends such as attending sports groups and music lessons.
Kristen is moved and humbled to know that she has inspired other mums to take up home-schooling and is more than happy to share her tips. Something that is extremely important to Kristen is the belief that one-to-three hours of study can be much more effective than any kind of longer schedule. She enjoys allowing her children to play and build relationships with others believing that this learning style instils the most important moral lessons.
More families are finding themselves turning to home-schooling amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic. It’s tips like these that Kristen hopes to share with other parents to ease any anxieties they may have – they do not need to teach 18 years of curriculum in one day. She would like to inspire other parents to value this unprecedented stretch of time they have to spend with their children.
“Neither me nor my husband were home-schooled,” Kristen said.
“Home-schooling as my vocation – calling me to love and take care for my husband and children. I could best fulfil this calling by starting at home.
“I have seven little ones all aged eight and under. There are no twins. They’re just close in age. If you count pre-school with my eldest, we’ve been home-schooling for four years.
“We typically start our day around 9am after breakfast. After about an hour of study, we will then take a break for ten to fifteen minutes. Then, we will come back in and finish any other independent work.
“Of course, there are things that come up and we will have to alter our schedule. In the afternoons, the kids will do their reading. My eldest four all take their books to bed and read until they fall asleep.
“Our children are also involved in music lessons, sports clubs, and even a home-school group where we can meet other amazing children and parents.”
Home-schooling isn’t always easy and Kristen isn’t afraid to share that.
“One of the most challenging things is having little ones around who also need your attention. I’ve learnt that getting someone’s help in the morning – such as a family member or babysitter – works best. It allows me to focus on the needs of the older children,” Kristen said.
“My husband is my strongest support. I can have days when I feel like I can’t keep my head above the water but he’s always there telling me I can do it.
“I really enjoy getting to know my children and spending time with them. That’s not to say that there aren’t days when I don’t consider how nice it would be to go to the grocery store without them in tow, but I just love having the kids around.
“We can home-school when and where we want to. We can move through the curriculum as fast or slow as we want to. If the kids decide they are really interested in something mid-year, we can add in a unit of study at the time that they are actually interested in it and will retain what they learn.
“If we have friends or family visiting from out of town, we can set the school work aside and work on relationships. These are far more important that book-learning anyway.
“The children have some friends who go to public or private school. Sometimes they’ll ask if they can come over and play and I’ll reply, ‘They are still at school.’ They always say, ‘Wow mum. That sure is a lot of school.’ They love the freedom of being a kid.”
Kristen is happy to share her tips online including how to schedule your time wisely.
“I love getting emails on social media from people who have been inspired to home-school,” Kristen said.
“They say, ‘If you can do it with seven kids, I can do it with mine.’
“It’s important to note that depending on your children’s age, grade, and ability, kids only need between one and three hours of sit-down school work per day. You are not attempting to recreate a school at home.
“Playful activities and connection are the most essential things you can provide your child with.
“In home-school, a mum has eighteen years to teach her children all they need to know. It doesn’t need to be done on the first day or even in the first year – or a few months during this pandemic.
“These times we’re going through give you the opportunity to form close relationships with your children. This helps you get to know their learning styles, personalities, and to form memories that will last a lifetime.
“Try to focus less on their academics and more on their character. Very few adults remember maths formulas and verb conjugation, but values and morals will stay with them their entire lives.
“It’s important to read to your children. One of the best gifts you can give is the world of imagination, knowledge, understanding, and experience that books offer.
“Home-schooling is hard. It can be a thankless job where the reward doesn’t show until many years later. Prayer and faith are both so essential.
“There will be weeks that feel like they’ll never end. There will be moments when you doubt if the kids are learning enough.
“One of the most beautiful things about home-schooling is the flexibility. If something isn’t working, you can change it.
“Most of all, enjoy being with your children. They grow up so fast and you do not want to miss them.”
For more, please visit Kristen’s Instagram page.