Tag Archives: homeschool parenting

Coping with Overwhelm (Part 1)

Perhaps you and your children started homeschooling with high expectations of it being an exciting new adventure. You were all going to have lots of FUN together. Much like an avid gardener poring over seed catalogs in anticipation of spring planting, you eagerly researched the multitudes of homeschool curricula available, finally settling on the perfect one for your family. But that was months ago, and now reality has set in. You and the kids are not having nearly as much fun as you thought this was supposed to be, and the workload is overwhelming.

Yes, homeschooling is a lot of work, but there are ways we can make it better for ourselves — and keep the fun in it. Part of it is about changing how we think, part is spiritual, and part is just plain making some practical adjustments.

Cutting back on nonessentials

First of all, if you are going to have the staying power you will need, life will not be able to go on quite the same as it did before homeschooling. Some things will most likely have to slide a bit. Let the nonessentials take a back seat during this season of your life.

Maybe neither you or your family will be able to handle as many outside activities or hobbies as previously. Sports activities and classes for dance, art, or music are great, and can be included as part of your homeschooling experience, but if you are losing your peace or grinding yourself into the ground to make them happen, it’s time to assess which are most important and curtail the rest.

Pre-homeschooling, my house was tidy most of the time. I made all our bread and fixed time-consuming meals. I did a lot of scratch food preparation. But once we started schooling at home, the house wasn’t quite as neat, the meals became simpler, and the bread making died — because if they hadn’t, I probably would have had a major meltdown. Preserving your sanity and staying peaceful are important!

Make two lists of ways you currently spend your time. Label them “Essential” and “Nonessential.” Be ready to cut out what isn’t as important, as you need to. You don’t have to let go of everything all at once, as long as you and your family are peaceful. Modify your lists regularly, because both priorities and preferences change over time.

In my opinion, maintaining a daily prayer life belongs on the essential list. It’s easy to let prayer slide when life gets busy, but if we make our time with the Lord top priority, He has a way of making all the rest of our day go much smoother. In God’s economy, if we make time with Him our top priority, the other stuff tends to get done. I don’t know how He does that for us, but it really works.

Time devoted exclusively to your spouse also belongs on that essential list. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a weekly date night. That works for some, but for others it adds to the stress, especially if finding a baby sitter is part of the equation. It doesn’t have to be a marathon event. If a daily fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time chatting with each other right there in the living room works, then do that. Make it a joy, not another reason to feel overwhelmed.

I never have a moment to myself!

Yes, it’s true. Me-time does suffer. You probably won’t be able to socialize, whether on the computer, phone, or in person, as much as you once did.

Keep in mind, though, that a half hour with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading will do more to help you regain your peace than that same half hour airing your frustrations to your friends. The Holy Spirit refreshes us with His presence. He renews our strength as we wait upon Him, according to Isaiah 40:31. If God says it, we ought to take His advice.

If possible, do occasionally schedule alone time for yourself or coffee with a friend, if you really need those to recharge your battery. Well-rested moms do a better job of parenting and schooling than worn-out, frazzled moms. If you have children who are old enough to watch the younger ones, set aside a day of relaxed activities they can do while you are absent. Some homeschool support groups provide ways for moms to take a break, too, whether by sharing child care responsibilities or scheduling co-op classes, activities, and events. Some of those will require that you take your turn at volunteering, so other moms can have a break; some require a fee to pay the people who are teaching the classes or supervising the activities.

Next time, we’ll talk about a few more ways we can avoid or cut down on overwhelm.

 

Character Building for Families

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New Homeschool Group for Moms

Do you sometimes feel like homeschooling is way more of an adventure than you bargained for? Are there days when you feel overwhelmed with navigating all the parenting issues — or you just don’t know what to do to get Johnny to behave? Maybe you’re concerned about whether you are doing a good job, and whether your children will turn out all right.

Announcing a new homeschool group on FaceBook:

Older Homeschool Moms Helping Younger Homeschool Moms

Our goal is to connect younger homeschool mothers with older women who have been there before you — so that you can receive encouragement, ask advice, receive prayer, and just be assured that you can do homeschooling well.

We’d love to have you take a look, and join if you’d like!

What About Life Skills?

Am I teaching everything my child will need to know in order to function well in life? This is a question in many homeschooling parents’ minds. We tend to be anxious about whether we have left gaps in their learning.

The truth is, many young adults brought up in a traditional school setting also have a huge gap in their education. Specifically, while they may have conquered academics, an increasing number are deficient in basic life skills, ranging from knowing how to carry out everyday tasks to the ability to interact well with other people.

In our home, we included a “Life Skills” class for all four years of our children’s high school experience. Whether your state homeschooling laws allow you to give high school credit for such a class or not, it really should be a goal to teach our children how to do life well in non-academic areas, no matter what type of higher education or career they are planning on.

Here is a checklist of life skills you may want to teach your child before they reach adulthood:

Social Skills

  • Basic manners
  • All the “Be kind to one another” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” things. (While this may seem to be a no-brainer, a casual dance through social media reveals that caring for the feelings of others is a scarce commodity, even among Christians.)
  • Listening – includes being willing to hear, discuss, and learn from someone else’s opinion or perspective without feeling threatened
  • Knowing how to resolve conflict or differences of opinion without anger
  • Conversational skills —
    — Asking questions to start conversation and show interest in others
    — Making eye contact, maintaining appropriate space from other people’s faces, being in control of body language
    — Dialoguing, rather than dominating
  • Empathy – being able to put oneself in the other person’s shoes and respond accordingly
  • Functioning well as a “team player”
  • Having the courage to say no when necessary
  • Coping with criticism — using it to learn, but refusing to let it drag down self-esteem

Thinking Skills

  • Following step-by-step instructions
  • Organizing thoughts, both oral and written (Outlining practice helps with this.)
  • Logic – cause and effect (“If this, then that.”)
  • Decision-making

Responsibility / Reliability

  • Being on time
  • Following through on commitments, such as verbal or written promises and appointments
  • Having a good work ethic – not goofing off, doing one’s best, being worthy of the wage paid

Servanthood

  • Valuing others
  • Looking out for the needs of others before self — includes getting rid of that “What’s in it for me?” attitude
  • Recognizing and avoiding intimidation and manipulation tactics
  • Leading by example, rather than bossing people

Living a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Nutritional food basics
  • Cleanliness
  • Common sense first aid
  • Advanced first aid — knowing how to do the Heimlich maneuver for both children and adults; perhaps CPR training, too
  • Natural healing remedies
  • What’s minor versus what’s important to see a doctor about

Housekeeping (both boys and girls for many of these)

  • How to clean – dusting, vacuuming, bathrooms, etc.
  • Washing, drying, and folding clothes
  • Neatness – tackling clutter, organizational skills
  • Cooking – the basics, including how to follow a recipe
  • Sewing – simple mending tasks, such as sewing on a button, fixing a torn seam, darning a hole, hemming
  • Ironing
  • Mowing lawn
  • Gardening (and preserving the harvest)

Auto

  • Knowing what is serious and needs immediate attention
  • How to air up a tire
  • Fluids checks
  • How to wash that critter!

Home Repairs and Maintenance

  • Basic tool use – hammers, wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers (Yep! Girls too!)
  • Simple plumbing and electrical fixes
  • Painting / remodeling / construction
  • (You can find out how to fix just about everything on YouTube!)

Money Management

  • Faithful giving to the Lord (establishing tithing habits)
  • Shopping for deals
  • Budgeting
  • Responsible credit card use and management
  • Managing / balancing a checking account
  • Developing saving habits
  • Investment knowledge and practice
  • How loans work; simple and compound interest
  • Basic economics knowledge – Fun book: Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? (affiliate link) (Other “Uncle Eric” books on finance)
  • Filing taxes

Basic Computer Skills

  • Downloads and uploads
  • Maintenance
  • Minor fixes
  • Using a word processing program proficiently

Self-Learning

  • How to research answers online
  • How to efficiently study and retain knowledge
  • Online course sites, such as Udemy, Lynda, SkillShare
  • YouTube

This list is not exhaustive – but it may seem a bit … exhausting. Keep in mind that it doesn’t all have to be done in a twelve-week course. You can spread the learning out over many years, exploring new skills as they seem relevant and age-appropriate. Go over your checklist from time to time, just to make sure you are making headway and not forgetting anything vital.

I have probably not caught everything, so if you see something missing in this list, please add your thoughts to the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Character Building for Families

New Release — Teach Your Kids to Hear God!

Kids Hear God Cover 425

Now available as an e-book from

 All normal parents want their children to grow up into thriving, responsible adults. But Christian parents have an even more important dream: that their children would be fervent lovers of God throughout their lives. Sure, we can “train them up in the way they should go,” but how do we make sure they continue to burn brightly for Jesus, once they are grown? A key component is teaching our children to know the Lord’s voice personally, so that their ongoing relationship with Him increases in strength as they mature.

Teach Your Kids to Hear God! gives simple explanations to help you and your children recognize the variety of ways God speaks. It also provides many practical tips for how to make listening for the Lord a daily adventure in your family. Although written particularly for homeschooling parents, this short book will work for any Christian parent who is willing to take the time to disciple his or her children into a deeper life in Christ.

 

Free Book — 2 Days Only!

HSPrayerKids400

I am pleased to announce that I have written a new book — The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids. It lays out a fun and easy step-by-step plan for forming consistent prayer and Bible reading habits in children, all in the home school setting.

Right now, it is only available as an e-book at Amazon, but we’ll expand its distribution in months to come. (2015 Update — Available now at all major e-book distributors.) Regular price is only $1.49, but for two days only,

Monday, 11-17 and Tuesday, 11-18 (PST),

I am offering it as a gift to you. Simply follow this link to pick it up.

If you like the book, would you be so kind as to give it a short review and/or star rating at Amazon? And would you recommend it to a friend? Thank you!

And, to make sure you always know when we have something new for you, why not subscribe to get The Character Building for Families Blog posts right in your e-mail? There is a subscribe option in the right-hand column of this page.

~ Lee Ann

Will My Kids Be Functional Citizens After High School?

While you’re out there presenting your I am a confident homeschool mom and my kids will excel! face to the world, do you ever get the what-if jitters when you’re alone — especially when your head hits the pillow?

~ What if the socialization accusers turn out to be right after all, and the kids end up social misfits?

~ What if they can’t get jobs after high school because I didn’t do something right?

~ What if one or more of them never figures out what to do with him/herself and ends up toasting French fries at Burger King for the rest of his/her life?

~ What if I missed teaching something, or I messed up on my record keeping, and they can’t go on to college because of it?

~ How will we ever afford college in the first place?

In other words, WILL MY CHILDREN BE ABLE TO FUNCTION IN THE REAL WORLD WHEN I GET DONE WITH THEM?

Maybe you don’t worry about such things, but I sure did — especially once the girls hit junior high.  It was a little better with Daughter #2. She is nearly twelve years younger than Child #1, so we’d had a little time to see the first one turn out all right. But, they were so different, and so was the schooling style we had chosen for each of them.

While our early homeschool years were extremely structured, by the time we got around to Round #2, I had slowed down to the point of making The Relaxed Homeschool lady look like a drill sergeant! Hence, new insecurities about the second child turning out all right.

But the punch line is this: They did turn out all right, and if you do a fairly responsible job, your kids will too.

Yes, we had some blind spots, and yes, we probably missed preparing them for the “real world” in some areas. But they can’t learn absolutely everything through textbooks and family experiences anyway. Life throws curve balls at all of us right up until the day we die, and we keep learning along the way. It is no different with our children. Whatever we miss teaching them, they will learn some other way.

Norman Rockwell GraduateI found out that, although my children were not very eager beavers at home, once they got off to college, they learned to motivate themselves pretty fast. I have a theory that for some (probably most), the thirst for learning kicks in only in adulthood. And some thrive in a sink-or-swim environment.

I tried to give the girls a well-rounded education at home, including making sure they did high school courses which at least made them eligible for college. They both ended up attending Bible schools which insisted on a certified high school diploma (as in, not something Mama artistically crafted on beautiful parchment paper). We had not used a correspondence school, and neither of the colleges the girls chose accepted unofficial transcripts or SAT/ACT test scores, either. They did, however, accept  GED diplomas, so that was our work-around.

GED exams are not a piece of cake, but if you do your homeschool mom job reasonably well, your kids will do all right on them. Even if you find you didn’t do your job as well as you should have, the local library can help your children out with books that prep them for the exams. There are online sites that will do that as well. There is usually a way to fix most messes we’ve made, but if you’ve taken homeschooling seriously (and I think most of us do), you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well your kids really do on those tests!

So, yes, the kids will be functional. It’s not all on our shoulders anyway. They have to do their part, too. But most importantly, we who are believers have the Lord to make sure all turns out well. If we ask Him to help us do the best we can, and we commit the results to Him, He will make up for our weaknesses and our children’s. As we stay dependent on Him, He watches over our homeschooling process. He cares even more than we do about our children’s future, and He will infuse His grace wherever we have lacked.

 

Character Building for Families