A MUM-of-seven who’s been home-schooling her kids for years claims building relationships is more important than ‘book learning’ and only teaches her kids for a few hours each day.
Kristen Schroder, 35, has seven children all under eight-years-old – with no twins.
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While the stay-at-home mum wasn’t homeschooled herself, nor was her husband, Bryan, she decided it would be the best way to look after her family and her home.
Kristen, from Mississippi, has taught her brood at home for the past four years, and says learning morals and values is more important than ‘book learning’.
She shared her tips for any parents facing the daunting task of teaching their kids at home, as schools shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “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.”
The mum thinks one to three hours of learning a day is sufficient, and believes freedom and flexibility is the key to effective teaching.
Kristne said: “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 than 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, who shares her parenting journey with her 142,000 followers on Instagram, says it can be tough looking after so many children.
The supermum said: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Kristen says she’s inspiring other mums who are struggling with homeschooling, who tell her ‘if you can do it with seven kids, I can do it with mine.’
But she advised mums who don’t know where to start when creating a timetable to focus on spending quality time with their kids.
She said: “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.”
Despite being able to make great memories with her kids, Kristen admitted it did have some drawbacks.
She said: “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.”
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