It’s THAT time of year! The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer, the end of the traditional school year is drawing nearer, and homeschooling moms everywhere are wearing down. They’re getting tired, losing patience, and worrying over how far behind they’ve fallen in science, or history, or mathematics. And while ushering the kids onto the yellow school bus may seem like the best solution, there are certainly a host of other ways to address homeschool burnout that might not require such a major life-change.
Plan a mom’s night out. Get together with a group of other moms. Share your concerns, brainstorm solutions, and then talk about something other than homeschooling. If you can’t get out for an evening, meet a friend at the park and bring the kids. While the kids play and enjoy the beautiful weather, the moms can chat and enjoy the beautiful weather. Sometimes it’s nice just to know you’re not alone.
Attend a homeschool conference. Homeschool conferences are a great source of information, encouragement, and ideas. Two full days of workshops, hours spent walking the vendor halls, and uninterrupted time with like-minded moms can do wonders for restoring even the most burned-out mom. If you’re unable to attend your regional or state homeschool-conference, you might try an on-line conference such as The Old Schoolhouse Expo, or consider ordering the MP3 from your state conference so you can “attend” at your convenience.
Go ahead – Complete your end-of-the-year assessment. End-of-the-year assessments are a big source of stress. Is my first-grader reading well enough to complete the reading comprehension portion of the evaluation? Will my third-grader take his time and accurately complete the mathematics portion of the evaluation? Are there gaps in what we’ve covered this year? What better way to put your mind at ease than to go ahead and complete the assessment. A simple way to demonstrate proof-of-progress in states that require a standardized assessment is the the CAT-E, available from Seton Testing Services. It can be administered at home in not much more than an hour. Results are usually available within a week.
Make a list of homeschooling goals. Did you start homeschooling because you wanted your son to be the first among his friends to read? Is having your nine-year-old completing sixth-grade math important to you? Why did you decide to homeschool? What are your homeschooling goals: short-term and long-term, for your child? Think about goals related to family-life, home-making skills, academics, and spiritual growth. Write these down, and refer to them often. When I wrote mine out, I found there really weren’t all that many related to time-specific academic achievement, and yet it was my boys’ time-specific academic achievement that was leading me to question my effectiveness as a homeschooling mom.
Make a list of your homeschooling accomplishments. Rather than focusing on what you have yet to cover or where you are behind in regards to your lesson plans, take a look at your accomplishments this year. Pull out some of the work your children were doing in September, and compare it to what they are doing now. Look for progress in handwriting, spelling, mathematics, reading, social skills, and physical skills. Write down what you find. Putting your child’s accomplishments, and your own, in writing will give them the attention they deserve, and will help you to take them seriously. A child who started the year unable to spell c-a-t, and who is now working toward spelling four- and five-letter words has made huge strides, even if his spelling is still below age-expectations.
Take a day to just enjoy your family. Go to the park, visit a museum, explore a local attraction. Remind yourself that homeschooling doesn’t always look like traditional school. Your children are learning when they play, when they travel, when they interact with their family… even when they watch television. Learning is not limited to seat-work.
When all else fails, just love them. An experienced, and very wise, homeschooling mom once told me to stop worrying about math, reading, and history and just love my kids! The rest, she said, will fall into place. When you give yourself permission to enjoy your children, to just love them, all the rest will cease to matter quite as much, and you’ll be ready to start perusing catalogs and planning for your next homeschool year before you know it, because your kids are worth it!
How do you stave-off homeschool-burnout? What do you do to maintain motivation when you’re losing steam? What keeps you going when you’re tired and frustrated?
Jennifer has written out her lists of homeschooling goals and accomplishments for the year. She’s completed end-of-the-year testing with one of her boys and is half-way through assessing the other. She’s planned a couple of park days with homeschooling friends, and has just about regained composure enough to begin at least thinking about planning for another year of homeschooling. She can be found blogging at Adventures in McQuill-land.
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