Tag Archives: homeschooling stress

Six Tools for Tackling Homeschool Turbulence

Guest post by Michelle Curren

 

homeschool learningIf you find yourself feeling stressed and like you’ve made a mistake by choosing to homeschool, please don’t feel alone. Pretty much every homeschooling parent has felt that way at one time or another. It can be caused by lack of confidence, a deluge of information and choices, or burnout. How you handle it makes all the difference.

Here are six tools for tackling homeschool turbulence when those times arise.

1. Get the peace that passes understanding.

Pray and ask God to guide your homeschool. Believing that He’s your guidance counselor and watching for His leading will give you peace. We don’t know what the future holds for our children, but He does, and He can best prepare them for it. Some of my favorite memories are from looking back over our homeschool years and seeing how God provided for our children’s education.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

2. Take a break.

If you’re feeling burned out, the kids are unruly, or just because it’s a beautiful day outside, taking a random day off from your usual schedule gives everyone a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Kids are learning all the time, so whether you spend time at a museum or zoo, or let them pursue their own interests, they’ll still be learning.

3. You can’t do it all.

No one can. Every education will have gaps, but with homeschooling, you get to decide where the gaps are. When I first heard that, it was like a breath of fresh air! As I pondered the statement, I began to think of all the things I didn’t know, and yet I led a happy life. Don’t get too wrapped up in trying to teach your children everything. Teach the things that matter.

4. Don’t be a slave to your curriculum.

Trying to check off every assignment and stay on someone else’s schedule can cause stress. One of the blessings of homeschooling is having the freedom to make decisions regarding workload and schedule. Remember that you’re the one in control, and exercise it occasionally. This can go a long way toward easing overwhelm.

Also, reassess your curriculum. Is it the cause of your stress? It’s possible that it’s not the right fit for your family. If you come to this conclusion, don’t be afraid to make a change. Making yourself stick with a curriculum just because you made an investment in it can be costly in other, more stealthy ways, such as causing you to give up.

5. Support

I can’t stress enough how important this is. Even if you have support from friends and family, no one understands the challenges of homeschooling like other homeschoolers. Seek support from other parents through homeschool groups, whether online or in person. You’re invited to join my Facebook group, Happy at Homeschooling, where I encourage homeschool families.

Don’t be afraid to take time off from schoolwork to attend park days or other unstructured events where both kids and mom can make friends. It really can make the difference between sticking it out or giving up.

6. Benefit from experience.

Looking back over the fourteen years I spent homeschooling, there were things I wish I had known earlier. I put all of that hard-earned wisdom into a nine-step guide to give new homeschoolers a shortcut and set them up for success.

For example, I recommend that you write down your reasons for homeschooling. Reviewing them when you feel discouraged will help you reconnect with your motivation and get you back on track.

That’s one of the steps in my e-book, 9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, my workbook will help you to feel more relaxed and confident.

A Blessing, Not a Burden

I hope that these suggestions will help you overcome turbulent times. Homeschooling, although it takes dedication, is meant to be a blessing, not a burden. If you stick with it, someday you’ll have precious memories, stronger family bonds, and children that are well-prepared for life.

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Michelle Curren, Mid-Life BloggerMichelle Curren homeschooled for fourteen years, graduating both of her children from their homeschool. She and her husband homestead in the Missouri Ozarks with a menagerie of dogs, cats, and poultry. Writing as Mid-Life Blogger, she endeavors to encourage the next generation of homeschooling families. Visit Michelle at http://midlifeblogger.com.

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homeschool character training

 

Character Building for Families

 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

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Coping with Overwhelm (Part 2)

homeschooling overwhelmToday, let’s look at some common areas where we can get overwhelmed and how to alleviate them.

Measuring ourselves by other people’s standards

Maybe you find yourself thinking, “I just can’t get it together like other homeschool moms do!”

If you’ve gotten your image of what the perfect homeschool family looks and acts like from some homeschool magazine or hotshot Internet site, get rid of that notion. It’s not reality. The families on those mags and websites got themselves gussied up for the occasion. It’s called a photo shoot. If you could be the proverbial fly on the wall the rest of the time at their house, you’d see they have issues, just like the rest of us.

People sometimes talk like they have it all together, tempting the rest of us to beat up on ourselves because we fail at being just like them. We want to do it all, because they seem to be doing it all — with a smile on their faces!

The truth is, God doesn’t expect you to live somebody else’s lifestyle or hold yourself to their standards. He just wants you to follow His plan and seek His wisdom for your unique family.

Frustrating curricula

There is no perfect curriculum. No matter how glowing the reports, if the system everybody else told you to use just isn’t working, it’s OK to change to something different. Some of these are short-lived trends anyway.

Some families thrive using a very relaxed approach: exploring their interests at their own speed, using “living books” (non-textbooks), seizing learning experiences as they arise. Others do much better with highly structured materials — perhaps a full curriculum package that covers all the bases. Some even do well with a correspondence course, complete with deadlines. It all depends on you and your children.

If your homeschool materials are causing you or your children to stress out, it’s probably time for a change. One of the wisest pieces of advice I received in our early years of homeschooling came from Mary Pride, in her first edition of The Big Book of Home Learning. She said to expect to spend some money on resources which turn out to be duds. She felt it was just part of the process, and nothing to feel guilty about.

Housekeeping — too clean or too messy

Either extreme can cause stress. I said in Part 1 of this series that it’s likely you will need to lower your standards a bit in this area, but letting it all go to the dogs isn’t healthy either!

Use part of your homeschooling day or week to teach the children to do housework, and then put it into regular practice. You can count this as Life Skills, and attribute school hours to it. In addition to learning how to keep a tidy home, cooking and sewing can be part of this “class.” Older children should be helping care for the younger children’s needs, as well as bearing some of the overall workload.

Child care, home economics, and shop classes are making a comeback in public schools. Why shouldn’t you include them too? You will just accomplish them more informally than an institutional school. If you need ideas, check out my article, What About Life Skills?  for a list of basic life skills our children should be proficient in before they graduate.

Make summer activities work for you

If your state homeschooling laws require a minimum number of hours, get a head start on your next school year by counting summer hours spent doing educational activities. Include summertime trips, sports, reading, clubs, etc. and note the hours spent on them. This is a practically painless way to accumulate lots of learning and lots of hours credited toward classes.

Those historical spots you visit? Vacations to other parts of the state or country? Those are social studies field trips.

Sports? — physical education.

Reading? — part of your language curriculum. Keep a list of the books read.

Arts and crafts with the parks department? — Yep! That’s part of your art course for the year.

Now, what do you do to decrease your overwhelm? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Previous: Coping with Overwhelm (Part 1)

 

Character Building for Families

 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

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.

Next: Coping with Overwhelm (Part 2)

 

Character Building for Families
 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam