At some point during your homeschooling venture, you’re going to feel like you’ve made a grave error. There are lots of reasons this can happen. Maybe the homeschool curriculum you researched and purchased just isn’t working out the way you thought it would. It might be that you thought you had a handle on planning and organizing but it keeps unraveling. Worse still, you might be getting bombarded by all the naysayers who think homeschooling is a bad idea, no matter what. Which then leads us to feel that we simply aren’t measuring up. Or it could be one of a million other reasons that make you just want to give up and send them back to a traditional school system full time.
Believe me, when I tell you, I’ve had plenty of those days! But you can also believe me when I say, it’s worth it to power through days like this. Having graduated one from homeschool and intermittently homeschooled two throughout their academic years, we had plenty of rough days. But there were even more days that were awesome. And those are the days that keep you going. If you’re having a rough time right now, let’s think of some ways to recharge.
Remember Why You Started Homeschooling
Sometimes, getting that extra breath of “ready to go on” can be as simple as thinking back on WHY you decided to homeschool your child in the first place. It could be something health-related such as a severe food allergy, illness, having a special needs child, or a physical handicap. On the other hand, you might just prefer that your child not be viewed merely as one of many “resources” in a government school.
Maybe you decided to homeschool your children because they were being violently bullied. Of course, we know you can’t let them go back into that. Or were they being taught various strange religions? Or maybe immoral acts that should never be uttered inside an elementary school, middle school, or high school? When these are your reasons for homeschooling, you already know deep down inside that you have to keep fighting the good fight, for the sake of your children.
Perhaps you started because you have a gifted child? If so, then you know how quickly they learn and absorb knowledge. My own daughter could spin through language arts lessons so quickly, it sometimes left me awe-struck. I finally decided that pre-testing her, prior to every lesson, was a good way to weed out concepts she already knew. Unfortunately, her enrollment in public school offered her the opportunity to be sharply reprimanded for finishing too early or trying to “beat” the other children. In reality, she was only doing her work the only way she knew how… just as most gifted children do.
Your “reasons” for deciding to homeschool are, no doubt, your very own and very personal. But just taking a few moments to think back on why you decided that home education was a good fit for your family will fill you with a renewed sense of purpose.
Give Yourself Permission to Take a Break When You're Homeschooling
It might sound just too simple, but sometimes, just taking some time off and “manage the mood” will give you time to do the equivalent of a hard reset. Let’s face it, being both homeschool parent and educator, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, can become taxing! Not that you don’t want to be. No, sometimes, you just need to take a week… or two… or four… just to be a parent. Have fun, explore, travel, or see some sights as a homeschooling family and you may even find your homeschooled children learning without even trying. Even spending a few days just baking cookies and watching educational programming can be an excellent way to pass the time and still give your child the opportunity to learn. Even public school and private school schedules break throughout the school year for various reasons, some of which are intended only for the teachers.
But it’s not just about us. Sometimes all the hassle is because the children need a break. And that’s okay too. After all, at times they have to deal with a grumpy mom teacher as well as their own work and it can be overwhelming for them! Trust me when I say they’re not going to feel slighted if you take several days off. In fact, you might be surprised to find that, after a good long rest, they come back rested and ready to learn more than ever before. And anyone who’s ever homeschooled can tell you, having a happy, willing homeschooled kid makes us even more eager to teach!
Figure Out If Something Needs To Change in Your Homeschool
We all start out on this homeschooling endeavor with the greatest of intentions. We research and study, download resources, and make connections. We attend conferences and conventions and maybe even watch a few YouTube videos, or listen to some podcasts. We may even join a homeschool co-op or a homeschool support group as a way to help us through tough times. The bottom line is that by the time the academic calendar starts, we think we should be more than ready to go.
And most of us are. The problems come when something we planned doesn’t work out the way we think it should. Especially when it comes to our homeschooling curriculum. And especially when that curriculum was fairly expensive. When something like that turns out to be a bad option, many times we don’t want to let it go simply because it was supposed to work out. The truth is, it’s more likely to actually work out when we modify it; to let go of what isn’t working and find that one thing that does.
The problem for many homeschooling parents, especially those that are new to the undertaking, think that once their homeschool gets started they MUST “stay the course” at all costs. The good news is, you don’t. You’re actually free to change things around a bit, drop courses and add courses, or even switch homeschooling styles altogether. For instance, if you decided Classical Homeschool is what you wanted to do, but your child obviously learns more and is more attentive in an Unschooling environment, it’s time for a change. Yes, it’s a big change and one that may make you nervous, but you can do it, even while going at your own pace! And when your child is moving along smoothly and quickly, you’ll wonder why you ever took so long to decide.
Take Time to Pursue Your Child’s Interests While Homeschooling
This can make a huge difference, especially if it’s their attitude that needs a bit of adjustment. The truth is, children can feel “fenced in” and “bored” the same as we can. Sometimes, it’s just as simple as sitting down and asking them what THEY would like to learn about for the upcoming week. A specific historical event? A science topic they particularly love? Or maybe a special book that’s dear to their heart? You might be surprised at the answers you receive when you ask for their input.
An added bonus of asking them their choices in subject matter is that you’re likely to see a lot more excitement about each school day. When they are excited to learn, it makes everything easier, and there is a comfort level that you might not otherwise reach. This is a great way to find balance when things feel like they’re getting out of control in your homeschool program.
Draw From the Experience of Others When You Homeschool
If you’re involved in a homeschool co-op, social media group, or homeschooler support group, ask around. You might be surprised to find that other homeschool families have felt the same way. As you delve deeper into the conversation, you’re sure to find some bits of information that relate to your own specific situation. Don’t be afraid to say, “I just don’t feel like I can do this.” Also, don’t be afraid to ask how they got out of their slump. It’s likely they’ll be more than happy to tell you about how their child's education has gone.
If you have close homeschool friends, invite them to coffee or lunch and just spend some time sharing struggles. While you’re gleaning from their experience, you might just be helping them through a rough patch as well. At the very least, you’ve used some time to relax, unwind, and have some much-needed you-time. Even if no real experiences were discussed, this could help, at least in the short term, to put a fresh new spin on everything that’s going on around you.
Make Homeschool Fun Again
There’s no reason homeschooling has to be mundane or boring. Remember, you’re not doing “school at home” you are simply educating your children at home. Chances are, homeschooling was fun - and exciting - in the beginning. Although it may have been partly because it was a brand-new endeavor, it’s likely you just had fun from the start. And you can do that again. Mix things up, read out loud, use games, puzzles, singing, and field trips to keep things adventurous. You don’t have to spend all your homeschooling time in a chair or inside the house. This is your school - you’re the principal and educator - and you can run it any way you see fit.
If you have children who are naturally inquisitive, especially in pre-k but really at any age, add nature walks into your week. Depending on your geographic location, this can tie into many different learning topics and even be a great starting place for unit studies or lap-booking. If they enjoy music, ask them to put on a talent show. The possibilities are endless, but whatever keeps the fun level up is fair game at this point.
In Closing - Whatever You Do, Don’t Give Up!
No matter why you’re feeling like you want to quit homeschooling, DON’T DO IT! Unless there is an actual physical reason not to do so, I suggest you try a few of these tips to get back on top of things. There’s a very real possibility that this feeling will pass and you’ll be much better off for sticking it out. Your child's education is certainly worth it and will thank you in the future. At the same time, you will thank yourself as well. There’s nothing as fulfilling as graduating your child from your homeschool, knowing all the work, sweat, and tears that went into that diploma. Knowing that they are completely equipped to take on the world is a reward in and of itself and you’ll never regret that you did not quit when the going got rough. It’s worth every mile of the way.
One of the things you can do to help rejuvenate yourself when you’re feeling like quitting homeschooling is to attend one of our seven regional Great Homeschool Conventions. There are many ways to build yourself back up, including a host of excellent speakers, a variety of workshops to choose from, and curriculum vendors who have tons of resources you can sift through your very own fingertips. If you have questions about the products, there is someone standing by to answer any questions you might have. And, there is plenty of opportunity for socialization with other homeschool families!
With only seven conventions nationwide, we realize some people have to travel farther than others, and we’re happy to help. We offer hotel discounts, military discounts, and free admission for active clergy members.
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And remember, Great Homeschool Conventions are: Equipping… Encouraging… FUN!