Homeschool: When You Feel Like Giving Up

givinguphomeschool

The following is a post from contributing writer, Mary Prather.

We all know homeschooling is DIFFICULT.  It is a unique type of stress we shoulder as homeschooling mothers.

For the majority of last year I seriously considered GIVING UP.  Throwing in the towel.  Quitting.  It was just TOO HARD.

I know what the tuition is at our local private schools. I know what it would take to put my children in our local public schools because I called the registrar at each school and asked. Believe me when I tell you I was seriously considered GIVING UP.

I am so thankful God worked in me to give me the courage and strength to keep going. Looking back I can see there were some helpful steps I took to overcome my feelings.

STOP

Yes, it’s that simple. Just STOP homeschool for a while. Take a break. Believe me, your children won’t suffer if you take a week or two (or even a month) off. I read this advice all the time, but it’s TRUE!

Take time to take care of yourself and just be your children’s MOTHER and not their TEACHER.

We finished our school year at the end of April last year – not by design. I just was worn out and we needed to STOP.  Out of this break came rejuvenation. I achieved physical and mental rest. My children got a break from a somewhat grumpy, task-master mother.

It was not time wasted. In fact, I would say it was an investment.

Investigate Your Options

Much of the stress in our house came from having a preteen that was changing as a learner. Motivation was a constant struggle, as I know it can be with all children this age.  When it’s your own child though, it just doesn’t make sense.

I knew that we needed accountability and structure coming from someone other than myself.  We looked at several local homeschool hybrid schools. I cannot express to you the relief that came when we found Classical Conversations and we are happily involved in that this year!

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Do not suffer in silence!

I bore this weight of wanting to quit all by myself for several months. I even hid my thoughts from my husband, when he was more than willing to help me.

The day I shared my struggles with my husband, he immediately asked how he could help me.  He then suggested I confide in a good friend. This friend would text me encouragement through the day, she would pray for me, give me books to read, and just LISTEN. She reminded me to give my children up to God and TRUST in His promises.

If you are having a hard time, please talk to someone. Chances are, many people have felt (or are feeling) the exact same way. There is great power in community and sharing!

Be Willing to Change Your Path

Sometimes a change in course can make all the difference.

Our homeschool had always been very eclectic. We did a lot of interest led learning and even bordered on unschooling during certain times.  This wasn’t working last year, yet I felt I would be “failing” (what a terrible word that is) if we abandoned that style and tried something more structured.  People knew me as that creative mom that would plan and execute fun and engaging unit studies. I spent hours planning schoolwork.

I was getting tired.

It was also clear that my oldest NEEDED more structure and direction. My youngest loves checklists and memory work. I knew the Classical method was calling our name, but I just couldn’t let my “ideal homeschool” die.

You see, I have a type A personality and when I get on a path I like to STAY on that path until the bitter end. (I’m learning this isn’t one of my best qualities.)

Ditch the Comparisons

I had to stop comparing my children to other children we knew in school situations.  I gave up reading blogs for a season.  My children are just that… MY children. They are unique and comparing them to anyone else’s children does us all a disservice.

Everyone goes through that feeling of wanting to give up on homeschooling.  Maybe reading about my experience will help you know you’re not alone.  Take some time, find a friend, and remember why you started homeschooling in the first place.  Give your decision over to God and trust He will coordinate everything for good.

This year is MUCH BETTER in our homeschool. It’s not perfect, but I have learned that (just as in life) homeschooling goes in seasons. I think we’ll stick with it for the long haul. 

Mary is the author of a music appreciation curriculum for children, SQUILT, which aims to make teaching great music EASY for the non musical parent. She also blogs about her homeschool journey at Homegrown Learners. Her two children (ages 12 and 8) keep her learning and growing!


Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for sharing – it’s nice to know that others are in the same situation. I think we all question ourselves and think about giving up sometimes; I suppose it’s because we care so much about our children and want to ensure we’re doing the best we can for them. Last week, we had a week off from learning to read completely. At first, I felt really guilty about it. Should I be taking a break when we’ve only just started and it’s something he wants to do? Don’t get me wrong – we still read stories, acted out and lived stories etc – but we didn’t do any formal learning. My 3 year old loves reading, absolutely adores it in fact and although he does want to learn to read, the challenges he was facing was a concern to me. I was worried that he would be put off reading. So last week, we did what I consider to be the best way to read anyway – we shared things together. And all week he was asking – can I sound out my letters? What does this say? Can I tell a story? I think when we take a step back, we’re really able to see the progress our children are making and how happy they really are learning with us, at home, in a supported environment. Thanks again for sharing

  2. says

    I love your post. It is a wonderful reminder to veterans and newbies alike. I am in one of those seasons right now where we may well move to “emergency” homeschooling. I am looking at the schedule and thinking about how to serve all of us best, including mother. So, we may be relying very heavily on audio books, workbooks, computer school and educational dvd’s in the next month. That is ok!
    Blessings, Dawn

    • says

      You’re right — that’s ok. Life goes through seasons, and you are doing what is best for your children by even having an “emergency” plan. Hugs!

  3. Melissa says

    A timely read! I need to focus on what my children need in Their spiritual and academic education. God has called me to homeschool these precious boys. I need to let Him encourage, lead and strengthen me.

  4. says

    Thank you for the honesty, I am a mother of 7 expecting 8 in spring. I have been homeschooling for years ages from 1 4 to 2yrs. I live in a small town with hardly any home school families, the ones that are here I have tried to talk to just live in denial, they don’t want to get together or they are just too busy. I have tried to share my struggles with others and they look at me like I am crazy and they have no idea what I am talking about. They are perfect and they don’t need help from others it the message I get. I feel overwhelmed most of the time and I try to do school but everytime I look at the work I just go blank and can’t seem to put anything together, then I feel guilty because I know we are so behind. My husband tries to help, but I really don’t know what to have him help with. I just feel so lonley. The church I attend there are only so many in this town is full of public school teachers and even our pastor and his wife are teachers in the public school so there is no support there. My main source of encouragement is God and then others on the internet. So I really don’t know what I am asking here, just needed to vent I guess.

    • says

      Amber, I will pray for your situation. Obviously God has gifted you with your children and you are doing your best to educate them. I’m so glad you can find encouragement here — I’m so glad you stopped by today.

  5. Missy says

    Great post! It’s an almost daily struggle for me, mostly because I suffer with chronic migraines. I constantly remind myself that God led me on this journey to homeschool. He called me to do it and I’m just doing my best to be obedient. My biggest cheerleader is my husband. He has seen the benefits and fruit of obedience to God.

    We would probably love CC if it was offered in our area and Mommy felt well enough to participate!

    Thanks for your lovely reminders that we all struggle and we aren’t alone! :)

    • says

      I’m so sorry about your migraines — I am struggling with chronic back pain (going on 5 years now) and many days I just feel like I can’t do another thing. I’ve had to lower my expectations, lean on my husband, and my kids have stepped up to the plate, too. I will pray for your migraines to cease. Thanks for stopping by today. :-)

  6. says

    Ah the seasons….it’s a tough one this Fall for us…kids seem to be fighting a lot and I have had “those” days where quitting was coming soon! but alas…I prayed for guidance and patience….thanks Mary for your honesty! love ya my Sister in Christ!

  7. says

    I cannot tell you how timely this is for me. Just last night I told my husband that I am going to find out what it would take to put my oldest in public school. With being pregnant, having a very spunky three year old and a five year old who is very ambitious I have felt very unqualified to be a teacher. All these are extremely helpful with getting a second wind and reevaluating who I am in Christ and what He’s called me to be. Thank you so much Mary. You are ALWAYS so encouraging.

    • says

      LaDonna ~ 5 is SO young. Just enjoy that ambition and spunk – do fun things and don’t worry about school! Remember — CC memory work is ENOUGH — you need to cut yourself some slack in your current situation! Hugs to you, my friend!

  8. Candace says

    Thanks for sharing I needed this! We took the week off last week and my husband didn’t think it was a good idea but I’m glad we did the stress was too much and my stress even when I try to hide it my daughter must sense it and becomes even more difficult and frustrating, I felt much better and the last 2 days after a break my daughter suddenly started sounding out words in the world around her for the first time outside of our School practice and this morning she wrote a note to her brother sounding out words herself….I’ve been waiting and waiting for get to take what she’s been learning and apply it outside of when I’m specifically teaching it. It was very exciting and encouraging to keep going after feeling ready to quit…we started again today with fresh attitudes and ready but half way into our second thing which was simple copy work it should have taken maybe 5 minutes and probably took an hour. I have her breaks to jump dance and whatever it did not work it was soooo incredibly frustrating and those feelings of quitting started to quickly come back. It is incredibly frustrating when I am trying to help her and keep a smile on my face when she is monopolizing everyone’s time and acting inconpetent! When I have a little baby and her 3 year old brother who I also want to give attention to but by the time we finally get done something simple I am so irritable It saps my energy. Anyways so a friend who knew I was feeling this way sent me this link and it was encouraging because I’ve felt guilty for my feelings. We also do CC and enjoy that very much, it keeps me from quitting because I wouldn’t want to stop CC we love it :).

    • says

      I’m so happy that your daughter made that huge leap into reading. I think our stress really rubs off on our kids sometimes and when we just relax they are more willing learners! Thanks for commenting today. :-)

  9. says

    This is truly a great post. I hope that people really get your message. I did quit homeschool last year and I regretted it from almost the first day of regular school. I wrote about this in my post, “Homeschool – Giving up and trying again.” I have done the private school and public school thing…and now that I’ve experienced all types of school I know that giving in is a terrible idea. I still get those thoughts of wishing I had my day to myself but that means I just need a break. Thank you for this post!

  10. says

    Great post, Mary. I was there with you last year… and still struggle with my big guy. Stepping back, Netflix & Discovery schooling, and lots, and lots of Legos and blocks saved my {and my family’s} sanity. I appreciate you, my friend.

    • says

      Colleen, I think these gifted learners can be a HUGE challenge. I spend a lot of my energy keeping Grant well stocked with things that challenge him. {sigh} I don’t know what I would do with LEGO. Truly!

  11. says

    I’m glad you stuck with it. I definitely can relate to the feeling of wanting to give up. I reach that feeling more often than I would like because of being overly stressed. Plus we take a huge financial hit by me staying home being the homeschool parent. I wonder if it’s really worth it.

    I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in the feeling of wanting to give up, and then having God intervene and give us the strength to keep going.

    • says

      I think the financial hit is worth it. I was just thinking tonight a lot about finances and trusting God. It’s very very hard to do, isn’t it?

      I’m grateful for a God that already knows the plan – and it’s one for our good!

  12. says

    Fantastic and timely post, Mary! Thank you SO much for your candor. You are definitely right that some times we tend to suffer in silence {I think it’s a mom thing} and not share our feelings with even those closest to us. I have been having feelings like this in the past year and I too have a pre-teen and that has really made things quite topsy turvy to say the least! I have taken a step {or many} back and many deep breaths and invite the Holy Spirit to guide us and do my best to rest in Him. It really has helped quite a bit. I have also come to the realization, like you, that if things are not working then I need to back off for a while and re-group. Thanks for sharing :-)

    • says

      Those pre-teen/teen years can be tough – I like your attitude, though – inviting the Holy Spirit in (frequently!) is such a necessity in my life. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. says

    Thank you thank you thank you, for posting this article. This week I seriously considered sending my kids to public school. The number one reason I don’t is because of my 7 year old son. I tell myself, if I give up on him, then what will someone who doesn’t love him do? I know they would stick him in the back of the classroom and let him goof off by himself! It takes so much creativity and flexibility to teach that boy! I spend hours researching every lesson for him, HOURS, everyday because he needs to be challenged and stimulated in so many different ways. Who is going to do that besides me? I considered stopping for a few weeks to revise and revisit my approach. But how would I answer the naysayers in my family who call to see how is it going? They don’t believe this is a good idea and are waiting for me to admit my failure and quit. It seems wrong to use that as a motivation to keep going but sadly it is. SMH. Reading your article has given me the courage, strength and patience to keep trying and to step back and reexamine our school year and amend it. THANK YOU!

  14. Robin says

    I so needed this today! With being on the brink of tears And frustration today with my almost 7 yr old. I feel like such a failure sometimes. Especially when I lose my patience.

    Thank you.