I’ll be honest. Homeschooling more than one child at different grade levels, using different curricula and materials can get a little hairy at times. It’s all well and good if all of the children can work fairly independently with mom as the overseer. But when kids have questions or need direct teaching on a subject, a homeschool mom can find herself pulled in multiple directions at once.
One way that homeschool moms find help with the stress of teaching multiple children is online classes. We’ve used a variety of online courses over our homeschool years, and I find them beneficial in several ways.
Online classes teach difficult subjects
I will be the first to admit that I am not a genius in every academic subject. Although I was pretty good in school, there were definitely some subjects in which I had more ability than in others. And then there was math.
Math has never been easy for me. I made it through Algebra 1, but beyond that I struggled to keep my grades up so that they wouldn’t affect my otherwise high GPA. So when it came time for my own children to enter high school level math, I knew that I wasn’t their most effective teacher. They’ve primarily used online math classes ever since.
Online classes are a great way to cover those subjects in which you feel less than qualified. There are many great online programs with instruction that can help you teach your children those subjects.
Online classes hold students accountable
When I was a classroom teacher before becoming a mom, I tried to hold fast to due dates. I taught second grade, so it wasn’t as if I had students turning in research papers or taking final exams. But I did expect them to do the small amount of homework assigned each night (which was usually done with parents’ help anyway). Plus there were consequences for not having work done on time.
As a homeschool teacher, though, I can sometimes become a pushover when I hear pleas like these:
- “Mom, I really meant to finish that essay last night, but you know I didn’t feel good.”
- “I’m not actually ready to take that test today even though you saw that I studied until late last night. Can we just put it off until tomorrow?”
- “I know you said this paper had to be about the Revolutionary War, but I don’t really like that time period, so can I just change and write it about the Civil War instead?”
It’s easier to change due dates or lower expectations instead of causing drama and tears.
When my kids have taken online classes, though, they are required to turn in assignments —on time, according to a schedule, no exceptions. Having them take an online class gives them the opportunity to be accountable to another adult besides me.
Online classes help me multi-task
As mom of four children, I’ve learned to multi-task. But no matter how efficient I am, there are some things I just can’t do at the same time. Teaching two different children two different subjects on two different grade levels is one of them. When I try to do this, everyone — including me — ends up confused and frustrated.
The beauty of online classes is that multiple children can be taking different classes at the same time. We’re only limited by the number of computers we have. I can check on each one and follow up with what they’re doing. And it can all be happening simultaneously, without affecting our sanity.
Online classes are more objective
I think that all parents occasionally think a little highly of the abilities and knowledge of their children. Of course, my children are all geniuses, so maybe it’s only me who thinks this way.
But when I stop to be realistic, I know that my children aren’t geniuses. When I grade assignments and tests, I realize that they don’t always fully understand the material they’re learning. I know that they didn’t get those answers quite right. But it is sometimes difficult for me to be objective. Instead I always want to give them the benefit of the doubt, “I know that he wrote the wrong answer for this question, but we’ve been over it so many times, I’m sure he knows the right answer. He was just confused because of the way the question is worded.”
When my kids take online classes, however, and have to submit answers online or submit assignments through email, there is a more objective view of their mastery of the subject. If they answer a question wrong online, it’s wrong. You can argue with the computer. If they turn in an assignment that isn’t well done to the teacher of an online class, they are going to get objective feedback.
Online classes can be a homeschool mom’s best friend. They’ve definitely saved my sanity a number of times. And I’ve found that the kids often enjoy the novelty of a different kind of instruction, instead of only having me to listen to all day. If you’re feeling pulled in too many directions, trying to teach too many kids too many subjects all at one time, try some online classes to change things up. You may find that they make your life a little easier as well.