None of us ever expected that 2020 and 2021 would turn out this way!

Homeschooling is fast becoming the ‘new normal’ as parents feel that attending school is no longer in their children’s best interests.
Some families are learning to juggle working and homeschooling, but for others, it’s financially a difficult time as they struggle to survive after a job loss or struggle to keep their business afloat.

Economic downturns aren’t the only hard times homeschoolers face. Homeschooling families also face challenges like dealing with critical illness, death, divorce, troubled teens and other family crises.

Here are 6 tips to help you through homeschooling in hard times.

1. Be gracious to yourself

If you are suffering the trauma of a job loss, business insolvency, divorce, critical illness, death or any other kind of crisis, give yourself grace. Tell yourself whatever you’d tell a good friend if she was facing what you are facing.
There will be days when you feel emotionally fragile and you have to fight your fears to stay positive and not ‘fall apart’. Allow yourself to have some wobbly days, expect them and don’t feel guilty when they happen.
If you do anything academic on those days, consider it a bonus. There are emotional lessons and character issues you are all learning to handle in a time like this. Those are life lessons. They count.

2. Buy wisely

The wonderful thing about homeschooling, is that you get to choose how much you want to spend on educational resources. It’s ideal for hard times.

  • You can buy curriculum products one by one over a number of months so that your purchases suit your budget. There is no need to buy everything you need all at once.
  • You can buy non-consumable products, so that you don’t have to replace them if you have more than one child.
  • You can buy products that are created for multi-age learning, so that you can use the same resources for all your children at the same time, if they are close in age.

As examples, our Footprints products are non-consumable and ideal for multilevel homeschooling.

3. Supplement with free online resources

You can supplement your core curriculum products with other electives that are free online. There are countless free videos, audio books, printable worksheets, printable lapbooks and other resources online.

We have a selection of free printable worksheets on our website and a range of very affordable SA history lapbooks, which you can download and print for R100 each and reuse with multiple children in your family.

4. Read aloud daily

In good times and bad, one of the best things you can do to promote learning is to read aloud together as a family. Find uplifting, inspirational stories or biographies that will teach your children about how other characters have overcome challenges in a different time or a different place. As human beings we all face similar fears, challenges and relationship difficulties and seeing how others have done it reminds us that we are not alone and that getting through is possible! Read our article about why literature is essential for lifelong learning.

In our Footprints programme, we our stories include South African heroes who faced hardships like poverty, the death of a parent, relocation to a new country, wars, illness, persecution and other crises. Their stories are thought-provoking and encouraging for all of us.

5. Encourage “productive free time”

Allow your children to direct their own activities and develop their talents or pursue new hobbies. Leave the screens off and let them entertain themselves by reading, drawing, folding paper, cutting, crafting, constructing, gardening, designing, making, baking, playing board games or doing whatever else they choose. They can learn to entertain themselves inexpensively with what is available in your home already or what is easily affordable on your current budget. These activities teach a vast range of valuable skills that are not found in textbooks! They say that ‘boredom is the mother of creativity.’

6. Don’t be too proud to ask for help

If you are facing an abnormal situation, let your friends, family and local homeschool community know. As homeschoolers we can and have served each other by arranging things like a meal roster for delivering meals to a family, baby-sitting help, shared classes or even financial donations to bless you in a time of need. In due season, you can be the one paying it forward and blessing another family.

Finally, don’t think that it will always be this way. If there is one thing that we’ve observed over the 20 odd years that we have been homeschooling, it’s that seasons come and go. In our own situations and others, we’ve seen families survive through all kinds of hard times and eventually the good times rolled around again. Like all of us, you will survive too and have a testimony to share afterwards.

Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!”

Homeschooling on a Budget

Whether it’s due to loss of income due to lock down, or whether one parent is giving up a full time job to homeschool their children, in this quick chat Shirley and Wendy share some ways to homeschool on a tight budget.