I think all of those who are a part of the homeschool community can agree that our experience is unique to our family. We might find ourselves rising early, sleeping late or rising late and sleeping early or anything in between. I was talking with one of my friends today and was reminded of a few things that I felt compelled to share.
Last year, I found myself on a quest to homeschool my kids for the first time, straight out of a classroom setting having taught for a number of years and also pulling my kids out of school, simultaneously. I found myself busier than busy from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning, feeling like a race horse whose gate was just opened as the gun shoots the “go” signal. In the words of my good friend Forrest Gump, “I was running” and that is no lie. I found that I was filling up my gas tank twice a week (and that’s with Eco Boost), rushing to classes and events, watching the sun set having not prepared dinner, and my house was a mess. There was no consistent schedule set for my kids and I was planning a co-op, carting the kids around, attending meetings, trying to squeeze in time to complete a physical fitness routine and it often felt like I was in a race against time.
At the end of the year, though the children had completed a plethora of activities and learned a ton, I was exhausted and had not achieved what I planned academically at the beginning of the year. Nothing was in-depth lesson wise and I ended the year a little disappointed. Here are few things I learned that year that I would warn against, in an effort to help prevent burnout and self doubt.
- Do not over extend yourself by planning too many activities.
- I signed up for every library class, museum class, field trip, attended educator open houses, started a co-op, went to mom’s nights out, signed kids up for lessons held throughout the week and on weekends in addition to serving in church, trying to run businesses (which did not happen) and tried to relax before embarking upon the next day. It was grueling and not necessary, but I thought Was dong my children a disservice if I didn’t do all of those things. The truth is they were tired and so was I. Pick and choose. A full schedule does not necessarily yield a good homeschool experience, that your children are truly learning anything or that you are an effective homeschooling parent.
- Be mindful of trying to homeschool with other people.
- This can cause your homeschooling journey more harm than good especially if there is a lack of continuity, one-sidedness in anyway, improper motives (i.e. babysitting) and can cause unnecessary stress. If this is the case, then leave it alone. There needs to be a clear understanding of expectations from both sides and if those expectations are not met, there is a strong chance this plan will not be successful. You may find, as I did, that our family schedule was too full to consistently homeschool with another family. You may realize that you want and need to spend time alone, minimal distraction, with your children getting to know them on a deeper level, better understanding them as learners and creating the homeschool experience you desire. That is your right and privilege, so go for it. If homeschooling cooperatively is something you would like to try, be honest about your aspirations and expectations. It may work out, you never know, but if it doesn’t, don’t force it or feel compelled to make it work.
- Watch out for time traps.
- (Social media, working from home, play dates, errands, babysitting, phone conversations, etc.) All of these things have the capability to steal, distract and cause your homeschooling time to completely dissolve, which you may regret later. Not interacting with your children when you homeschool them is not usually the goal of homeschooling, it is usually quite the contrary, yet many of these things listed may very well mean that you are near your children or in proximity of your children but your mind is not focused on them nor homeschooling. Supervised, involved, interactive facilitation is most assuredly not going on if you are too involved in focusing other things.
- Forgetting what’s important.
- Your children, their passion, purpose and interests are pivotal to your homeschool’s success. Don’t forget what’s important. Your house will be a shamble, your business may not grow as fast as you were hoping, things may wane a bit. It may feel uncomfortable and frustrating. Keep you focus on what’s important, “properly” home educating your children.
- Not guarding your time & Your Homeschool.
- Say “No” to people and things without regret. Your children are the number one reason why you decided to home educate. If you spread yourself too thin trying to please people or accommodate things that are not helping you in your homeschool journey, you are not neither protecting your homeschool nor your time.
- If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- Whether that’s curriculum planning, researching field trips, creating the family calendar or anything else you plan for within your homeschool year, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If you do not plan by completing any number of tasks adequate planning may entail, you may find yourself feeling defeated. You may find yourself and your family missing deadlines, late to events, forgetting things at home, etc. Planning most often means you are organizing something which in turn, yields organization. Planning is a key component to successful homeschooling, whatever that looks like to you, do it. You will not be sorry.
- Distance can be the enemy.
- Is it in the best interest of your family to travel an excessive amount of time and distance for something that you may be able to provide at home or at least closer to home? Can you find a similar event or offering closer to your home? Distance can cause you to lose and use valuable time needed to do something you planned on completing before the travels began. Carschooling is something many homeschooling families embrace, but sometimes if unplanned, those carschooling “lessons” may not achieve the intended effect originally hoped for if longer driving distance was not in the plan.
- Be mindful of influences.
- Social media though it can be used for good, has stolen time, evoked a less than good emotion and caused unrest in many an adult. There are also our human counterparts who we interact with on a daily basis and directly or indirectly feed into our emotional and mental spirit. Whatever the influence, be mindful of what you internalize and allow around you, your family and your mind. These influences can steal your joy, cause you to doubt, compare and question everything you thought you knew about your family, yourself and your homeschool.
Everyone is given the same amount of time within a day, it’s what you do with that time that makes the difference in your life. I challenge you to examine your current state of business. Reflect on what that looks like for you and your family and if you choose to adopt a “new busy”, allow your new busy to be your best busy because that’s the busy that brings the most joy and peace.