At the beginning of this year, I homeschooled for about three weeks while living in a hotel. I juggled two different levels of instruction. Three, if you include my eager little Kai guy. I homeschooled in a state I had just moved to and with very little in the way of a support group. I basically created my own curriculum and all my lesson plans using an eclectic mix of resources. I homeschooled a child who is advanced in some areas, like math concepts, reading, and creative thinking, but who drags his feet if asked to write more than a couple of sentences and struggles to spell on a level anywhere close to his reading level. I homeschooled another child who learns very differently from his brother and I adjusted daily back and forth to each child's style. Some of these challenges weren't really all that challenging, like being in the hotel. Or maybe I'm just getting to the point where I am far enough removed from it that I've painted those days with the forgiving paintbrush of nostalgia. Some of the challenges were more challenging, like adjusting to homeschooling while also adjusting to our new lives in a new state. None of them, however, could beat out my most challenging homeschool challenge: Noah.
Noah, you say? The baby? But he's not even homeschooled.
No, but he's home!
I'm going to give myself the credit I think I deserve and say that juggling the three older kids is not easy, but it's something that I have a fairly good handle on, most of the time. In some ways, it helps that there are three of them, because when I need to work one-on-one with a child, there are still two left to entertain each other. Of course, that often leads to the need for policing or, if nothing else, an enormous mess which I later have to police the clean-up of.
But you can't juggle a baby. You could try, but I'm guessing it wouldn't be too long before someone complained to the appropriate authorities. We started our school year in August, when Noah was four months old. We'll be finishing up in June, when he's fourteen months old. Babies those ages need near-constant attention. They often literally leave you with no free hands. And free hands happen to be kind of helpful when you're doing just about anything, homeschooling included. Noah tends to need a nap just at the most inconvenient moment, and has never, to my recollection, taken a nap lasting more than half an hour in his crib. He wants to crawl on me while I read to his brothers and attempt to steal the book and rip its pages out. He cries if I don't hold him in my lap, even if I'm trying to do a science experiment. He would like to eat the watercolors and the crayons and the base one hundred blocks and the atlas and pretty much anything he can get his mouth on. He has no appreciation for folk tales or multiplication or why the Statue of Liberty is green. He doesn't know, or care, what sound /R/ makes.
Noah is my most challenging homeschool challenge. He is, however, cute....