What should I have my 8 yo son doing while I´m working?

by Gabriela
(Sololá, Guatemala)

We are just starting to homeschool our 8 year old son.

I run a social arts project in my home(in rural Guatemala) and my husband is a builder with quite a bit of time at home. We have enough time between the two of us to put in a good 5 hours a day of activities with our son, but what should I have him doing during the hours that we are both busy?

We have a big yard and there are always people here, so he could just be outside, or should I set him up with a project to do by himself? Some days it will be as much as 2.5 hrs that he will have to entertain himself.

Should I give him worksheets to do alone? Should I let him homeschool by himself when we can´t be with him, or should it be considered free-time? Should I only consider homeschooling time to be with us or can he do some lessons alone?

Thanks so much for your site, I found it just at the right time - we´re officially starting today!

Best wishes,


Hi Gabriela
Sorry to take so long to answer your question - I somehow missed it was there. Welcome to homeschooling!

I think that it may be a bit of trial and error in what your son should do while you are working. Is your son good at entertaining himself?

If it were me I would start by letting him do his own thing!

He may love having the space and time to work on his own projects - and I think you can include this as part of your homeschooling. It is important for children to have control over what they learn. And when they are interested and enthusiastic about something then they learn so much better. Encourage him in his own projects. It sounds like he is living in a wonderful environment, and I am sure there is lots around him that will inspire him in different directions. If he is happy just to play in the yard then that would be fine too - lots of valuable experiences come from play.

If you find he is getting bored or not sure what to do with this time then you could begin to set up projects for him that you think he would like. It doesn't have to be worksheets (unless he likes them!). How about using some of my home school ideas as projects. But make sure he has a backup plan in case he gets stuck - so you could tell him "If you get stuck then go and ... instead". I would hate for him to be feeling frustrated or bored because he wasn't sure about the next step and had no-one to ask.

I think this is a great opportunity for both you and him - and working together you will come up with a wonderful solution.

best wishes, Julie.

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