During my few years of homeschooling, I’ve had those days when getting up to teach just wasn’t my cup of tea. My kids were cranky; I was cranky, and nobody wanted to “do school”.
Yeah, those were the days when school consisted of a stack of textbooks and workbooks piled neatly on the table next to a timer, a pencil, and one eraser. Oh, and I had a school bell. And (sigh – this is so embarrassing), my daughter wore her school uniform. At home.
Okay, so I was a little over-the-top. But at least I was excited about our homeschool, right? Only problem is that this way of homeschooling didn’t (or couldn’t for that matter) last for long.
A few months past our start at kindergarten, I had my second baby, and my postpartum brain fog only made my homeschooling decisions worse. It wasn’t long before I burned out in the middle of my daughter’s (first grade!) year and started to panic. I had all the questions many of us have, like:
- What if I’m messing up my child (in kindergarten, 3rd grade….*gasp*…for life)?
- How can I get it all done (homeschooling and taking care of a baby and keeping the house clean)? Without going insane, that is.
- Oh my gosh – will she get into college?
- Will she be…(drum roll please)…socialized enough?
- What if I’m not good at teaching her the multiplication facts? Or how to write an essay? Or long division, or trigonometry, or chemistry, or…
After several attempts at different homeschooling methods, a lot of trial and error, and a whole lotta prayer, I finally came to the conclusion that if we were going to keep homeschooling, I would have to figure out how it was going to work for us – and fast!
Here’s what worked for me (and if you’re going through something similar, I pray will work for you):
- If your timing is broke, fix it. Maybe your 4th grader isn’t ready to memorize all the multiplication facts yet. It’s okay to slow down and not rush ahead to long division, even if you won’t finish that math book within the school year. Timing is everything. A kid will learn when he’s ready, and it’s okay if it doesn’t happen when it seems other kids his age are already grasping it. The cool thing about homeschooling is that you are in control of your time.
- If your method is broke, fix it. If what you’re doing is driving you and your kids up the wall, you should most likely switch gears. If you’ve tried to approach educating your kids one way and it doesn’t feel right to you or your kids, switch methods. Maybe you have a tactile learner who learns best by manipulating and feeling the objects in her hands or learns her spelling words best by jump roping at the same time. In this case, you might switch to a more kinesthetic approach rather than workbooks.
- If your curriculum is broke, fix it. There’s no sense in keeping on with a curriculum that just isn’t working for your kids. And if the teacher is burned out just looking through the “teacher manual”, it’s probably time to move on.
- And lastly, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you’ve found something you and your kids absolutely love, then do that (and do a lot of it)! Your kids will learn best if they’re doing what they love. If your child wants to learn about spiders, let her find out a million things about them. You could watch a YouTube video, check out library books, or just go out in the backyard and take pictures of them to add to a nature book.
Just remember to relax, take a deep breath, and know that each new day will bring you new ideas for what works for your kids. Also be encouraged by finding like-minded friends who can help you. Make some homeschooling friends and talk to them – a lot.
And most of all, be confident in your choice; believe in what you’re doing for your kids and that it’s the best fit for you and your family. Just let your kids be kids, and appreciate all the beauty they bring into your life.
Hope this helps to encourage you to stick with homeschooling. You can do it!
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