As homeschooling parents, we love spending time learning with and teaching our kids. However, home education is a huge responsibility, and we feel that keenly. Symptoms of burnout can sneak up even on veteran homeschoolers. Homeschooling parents can experience a particularly rough season with illness or pregnancy, or children who struggle or who develop bad attitudes. Not to mention the stress of everyday life can spill over into school time. What can a parent do to avoid homeschool burnout in themselves and their kids? Here are a few suggestions.
Homeschoolers don’t have to do everything themselves. There are many resources available, for free or at reasonable cost, for homeschooling families. Your local board of education’s website will have information for home educators. There, you will likely find several homeschooling groups close by that can suggest classes for nearly every subject. For example, in an Arts Center less than 5 minutes from my home, my kids have taken art, dance and pottery lessons. That Center also offers math, science, history and chess classes at very low cost. Your local librarian may also have suggestions for free educational opportunities for your kids.
Consider forming a co-op with other homeschooling parents. If one of you is skilled in a foreign language and another a whiz at math, trade kids for a couple of hours once a week. Investigate classes available online, both free via YouTube and Khan Academy, as well as paid, like those offered by the Well Trained Mind.
Ask for Help
If you need to take a break or want help teaching a particular subject you don’t enjoy, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your spouse, a grandparent or other trusted adult may be happy to take over teaching one subject that they love. Even an older sibling may make an excellent teacher. My older children get help with math from their oldest brother, as their math knowledge has long exceeded my ability!
Many homeschooling families, including mine, benefit from a daily quiet time. Little ones may nap or otherwise be required to stay in their beds with quiet toys, older ones may read or just rest. The daily quiet is essential for peace in a busy house where everyone’s home all the time! Quiet time gives siblings a little break from one another, and most importantly, it gives mom a break to read, pray, journal, drink tea or nap.
Change of Scenery
Many times when my kids are in a sour mood and complaining about having to do their schoolwork, merely changing their environment does wonders. We’ve taken books to Starbucks and enjoyed hot chocolates with our math and history, or grabbed a picnic and blanket and done school in the park. Simply moving read-aloud outside in the back yard can put everyone in a better mood.
Take a Library Day
When all else fails, when you’re tired and the kids just can’t face another page of Saxon math, chuck it all and declare a Library Day. Head to the library and encourage each child to check out as many books as they like. Enjoy a great read-aloud. Try to finish a novel in one day if you can, taking turns with your kids so your voice doesn’t wear out. Then watch a movie based on the book for extra credit! Reading and discussing great books is every bit as educational as any planned curriculum. Historical fiction, biographies, even a novel offers much fodder for learning and conversation. Doing something different once in a while can refresh everyone, including you as the teacher.
Carrie Willard is a homeschooling mom of seven kids, including one graduate and one former 27-weeker preemie. She blogs about large family logistics, frugality and great books at http://www.CarrieWillard.com. Her latest book, The Temporary Tightwad, offers advice for meeting a life-changing financial goal.
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