Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: Don't overload yourself this year

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Don't overload yourself this year

In the weeks leading up to a new school year, many homeschooling parents become anxious about how much their kids will accomplish. Will their little ones learn enough to stay on track with their peers? Will their teens earn enough credits to graduate as planned?

It's so easy to get overwhelmed, not just in the planning of it all, but in the day to day execution of the school year itself. How can you keep from getting buried under a stressful mountain of schoolwork and administration this year?

Believe me, this is something you'll want to avoid, not just this year, but in the years to come, as subjects get tougher and the lessons get longer. I've seen what homeschool burnout can do to a mom, I've even felt it a time or two, and it's no good for you or any of your family.

Don't try to plan out the whole year at once

I've written about this over and over again, but one of the worst things I ever did to myself was trying to put down on paper, in ink, what I planned to do for the next 36 consecutive weeks of school. I didn't make it past October before I was ready to throw away my planner and start over.

Read more about my journey to homeschooling success here.

It's good to know what your goals are for each class, and to have some idea how much you'll need to accomplish each week, or each month, to get there. But allow yourself some flexibility, so that if you need to spend a little extra time on one chapter or another, you don't feel like you are failing just because you can't keep up with what you wrote in your planner.

Don't pile on too many courses at once

Have you ever known a parent who boasted at the beginning of the school year that their child was taking eight or nine separate courses, only to find out at the end of the year they dropped a third of their subjects and would have to repeat their math class the next year? It happens, maybe more often than you would imagine.

Both the parent and the child in this situation may end the school year feeling like they failed, when actually the schedule was just unrealistic. It's better to do just four or five courses at a time, or fewer if necessary to accommodate specific needs, than to overload and throw in the towel.

Find the schedule that works for you

I have found that it is so much easier for me to focus on about four classes at a time with my kids than to tackle more. We do math and language arts year round and rotate science, foreign language, history, and other subjects, usually every semester or so, always keeping about four subjects going at a time.

What I like best about this system is that I am never so overwhelmed that I can't keep up with what the kids are working on. I realized that in order to be a knowledgeable and useful instructor, I needed to review and stay ahead of what my kids were learning, especially as my older two reached high school. There's no way I would be able to do that, at least not at the proficiency I would expect from any other teacher, while juggling eight or nine subjects each week.

Schedule breaks now and then

Even if you are following a year-round schedule, you and your kids need breaks. My family rarely takes off more than two full weeks in a row, but we often take short breaks, and sometimes even have a whole month where the workload is reduced to just one or two subjects.

Homeschooling is a long journey, and you will have plenty of time to get the work done and still enjoy yourselves along the way. Whether you take off the whole summer, or just take a week or two now and then, make sure to stop and enjoy life outside the everyday routine.

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