Whether you homeschool year-round, or you’re winding up this school year and already planning for the next, this post can help you manage your time and find ways to make sure you (and your kids) stay motivated.
Lately I’ve been following a few other homeschool sites on Facebook. There are a couple of common themes that come up time and again on these threads, one being homeschooling moms asking for advice on curriculum (which ties right in to the new e-book I’ll be publishing soon – my first!)
The second question that comes up frequently on these forums, and in the e-mails I get from homeschool moms who write to me for advice, comes down to this: how do I do it all?!
To which I almost inevitably reply: you’re doing too much!
If you feel overwhelmed as a homeschooler, believe me, you’re not alone.
I’ve been homeschooling for over 23 years, but I can still remember quite clearly how overwhelmed and stressed out I felt, for many years. In fact, those feelings are something that few homeschool moms completely conquer, but you can make great strides towards a more relaxed approach to homeschooling that will benefit you and your kids.
To give you an example, I’ve heard from moms who are homeschooling three kids between kindergarten and sixth grade AND trying to homeschool a couple of preschoolers. Personally, I don’t understand the emphasis on “homeschooling” preschool, but that’s a topic for another day.
In any case, it’s simply unrealistic to think that you’re going to homeschool that many kids and keep up with the housework and keep up with family activities…and I could go on. Never mind these moms ever having any time for themselves!
Even if you can afford a full-time housekeeper (and how many homeschool moms can?) you’d still be hard-pressed to teach that many kids who are that young…and stay sane.
So what do I tell these moms?
I tell them they’re doing too much.
I tell them that homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint.
I tell them that it’s quite alright to forget about all those preschooling workbooks and just read to their kids, and maybe purchase some educational DVD’s (Leapfrog has some really good ones – my youngest was reading by the age of four and I believe the Leapfrog phonics DVD’s had a great deal to do with this).
I tell these moms that they really don’t need to be teaching math and reading and spelling and grammar and vocabulary and history and geography and science and…whatever, every day!
I tell them to cut back, rotate subjects (for instance, how about spending four months on science and four months on history?) and by all means, make some time to have fun!
Now, I realize different states have different requirements as far as what subjects you must teach and how many hours per day you must teach, etc. But this is where you need to get creative. Ask veteran homeschoolers in your area how they manage to meet those requirements and yet still have time for other activities. For instance, can your child’s participation on a sports team count as P.E.? Likewise, if your child is involved in a program at your church or with your homeschool group, think of ways this could count as homeschooling “credit” for their portfolio or transcript.
Also, don’t forget to consider unit studies as a way to teach more than one subject at a time across a broad range of ages.
Another way to balance your schedule would be to have your children work independently, particularly on subjects that they are strong in. But again, sometimes I find homeschool moms expecting their children to work independently before they’re ready, and then they (and their kids) get frustrated.
In short, here are my recommendations to help you get out of the “doing too much” phase:
- Rotate subjects
- Consider how you can creatively meet your state requirements without overloading you or your kids
- Give unit studies a try
- Allow your children to work independently (keep in mind using DVD’s and computer programs can help with this)
What are your suggestions for moms who are trying to do too much?