Do you make any of the following mistakes that cause more stress in your homeschool than it needs? Use the solutions below to be a more relaxed homeschooler.
When you first considered homeschooling, did you imagine your children sitting quietly on a blanket while you read aloud? Or taking daily nature walks and then coming home to research what they saw?
How close does that resemble your current reality? Do your homeschool days feel relaxed with children who desire to learn? Or are you stressed out and overwhelmed? If so, continue reading to find the solutions to be the relaxed homeschooler you’ve dreamed of being.
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I am a perfectionist with a Type A personality. Every summer as I plan the next school year, I have to remind myself that I don’t need to buy the new curriculum that all the homeschool Facebook groups are talking about. That I don’t need to schedule into our days every cool thing I find on Pinterest.
Instead, when I find myself drooling over curriculum catalogs, I grab one of my favorite homeschooling books, find a comfortable chair, and spend some time remembering why I’m doing this and exactly what my children need from me.
That book? Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie. Sarah has a great way of helping you remember that you are a far better homeschooling parent when you come to your kids from a place of rest instead of completely stressed out after 3 days of homeschooling from doing too much. The book always helps me put my homeschool year in perspective.
It also helps me avoid making the common mistakes of homeschool moms that lead to stress and overwhelm. If you find yourself making these mistakes too, then use the solutions below to be a more relaxed homeschooler instead.
Mistake #1: Using a separate curriculum for each child.
If you like spending all of your time planning and teaching, as well as quite a bit of your money on a vast amount of curriculum, then you should definitely keep all of your kids separate for schoolwork!
However, if you want to make homeschooling easier on you and your family, then try to combine your kids as much as you can. Even kids who are far apart in age can do some subjects together.
Solution: Group kids as much as possible.
One of the first things I do when planning a new school year is to figure out how many subjects I can combine. I then will search for curriculum that covers more than one grade level so that I can try to use it for more than one child in a school year.
For example, my two middle boys are less than two years apart in age, so I try to combine them as much as I can. I keep them together for history, science, Bible history, and grammar and math supplements. This year I also found a literature curriculum good for grades 4-6, so we’re giving that a try.
Enrichment subjects like art, music, and foreign language can easily be combined for all of your children. I have even found a way to combine vocabulary and geography as well.
Morning Time/Morning Basket is a great way to combine all of your children for enrichment.
You may see many different names for group work, but the most common is Morning Time, or Morning Basket. We call our morning group work, Morning Meeting. Though for the sake of ease, I’ll just call it Morning Time here. 😉
Many families use Morning Time to teach enrichment subjects, like art and music, to all of their children at the same time. In our group time, we go over vocabulary, geography, drawing, logic, nature study, and read alouds. Pam Barnhill has lots of ideas for using morning time in your homeschool.
My kids go to a homeschool art class on Friday mornings, and we use SQUILT for our music lessons, which are in the afternoon. So art and music are combined as well, just not during our normal morning time.
Look through your curriculum and figure out where you can combine your kids. Teaching two or more children the same subject at the same time will make planning easier and help you finish your day more quickly.
Mistake #2: Keeping high expectations at all times.
I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but I tend to be way too hard on myself. Like, so hard on myself that my parents wouldn’t punish me if I did poorly on a school assignment when I was younger because I had already beat myself up mentally. Yep, first-born overachieving perfectionist right here.
The problem with expecting so much of yourself all the time is that sometimes you just can’t do it all. You can’t deal with morning sickness, a potty-training toddler, or a death in the family and expect to be at peak performance.
Solution: Lower expectations during certain seasons.
Go easy on yourself during more challenging seasons of life. Are you pregnant or have a newborn? Then perhaps you try to do more online classes for your children. When I was pregnant a few years ago, we did a lot of school on my bed so I could rest. When there’s a toddler in the house, you have to expect interruptions. Be ready with playdough or a break for snuggles. Plan buffer times into your day so that the distractions don’t completely derail your lessons.
Know that certain seasons of life are going to make homeschooling more challenging. Plan ahead when you can, and just do your best when it’s unexpected. Maybe during those seasons, your kids have more life lessons than science or math lessons.
Mistake #3: Keeping your kids dependent on you.
Homeschooling when all of your children are young can be exhausting for you as mom and teacher. Young children need so much help with their schooling. Oftentimes, toddlers and babies are also in the mix. Your children are so dependent on you when they are little.
As a mom, it can be difficult to watch your children struggle as they learn how to do something. It’s often easier and quicker to just do it for them. It’s hard to see their frustration and not help solve the problem.
However, we are doing our kids a disservice if we don’t allow them the chance to solve their own problems or to teach themselves how to do something. We have to give them a chance to struggle and get frustrated because that is where real learning takes place.
Solution: Teach kids to work independently.
When my teenager was a toddler, her favorite sentence to say was, “Me do!” She has been fiercely independent ever since. Her youngest brother is following in her footsteps, always wanting to be a “big” kid.
Everyday your children get older and there is more they are able to do on their own. Encourage their independence! Work toward being less of the hands-on teacher needed when they are young into more guiding them to learn on their own as they move into middle and high school.
One way I teach my children to work independently is through their assignment notebooks. As I write down the following day’s assignments in each child’s notebook, I will star the work that I believe they should be able to complete on their own. I also allow them to choose the order in which they finish their starred work. This helps them gain confidence in themselves as they work toward independence.
Mistake #4: Doing everything yourself.
I know it feels like you are the only one in the house who knows how to run a vacuum, put clothes in a hamper instead of the floor, or replace the roll of toilet paper. But do not always pick up after your kids. Along with mistake #3, you will be doing your children a disservice if you don’t teach them how to do chores.
Solution: Have kids help around the house.
Just as we teach our children to read and do math, we also need to teach them how to do properly clean a house. I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan to go to my adult children’s homes and clean for them each week!
Chores are a great way to teach your children respect for property, organizational skills, and being a productive member of a family. Not that my kids jump for joy when it’s time to clean the house, but by making chores a normal part of their week from early on, my kids will do housework with minimal complaints.
Mistake #5: Doubting your abilities.
There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. It’s easy to let doubt creep in, especially if you dare to play the comparison game. But you need to remember that every family has a unique situation. God has entrusted your kids and their learning to you because you are what they need.
Solution: Trust yourself as a homeschool mom.
Your homeschool is not going to look like anyone else’s homeschool. And that’s ok! In fact, each year may look different. Homeschooling with a newborn in the house requires a different kind of teaching than homeschooling all high school students. You can trust that you’ve been given the graces necessary to get through each year the best way for your family at that time.
Mistake #6: Trying to do it all.
Trying to do it all is the fastest route to homeschool burnout. You will never cover all there is to know in this great big world, even if you homeschooled 24/7/365 for 18 years! So don’t beat yourself up about what you haven’t gotten to yet. Learning gaps are good. It allows your children a chance to learn on their own.
Solution: Remember homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint
Give yourself time to breathe. Homeschooling should be an experience that allows your children to see how fun learning can be. You can’t do that when you are stressed out all the time from trying to do too much. Creating a simplified homeschool schedule allows you to enjoy your homeschool day without all the stress of doing too much.
You should also be showing them that they will continue to learn for the rest of their lives. A high school diploma doesn’t mean that you have learned everything there is to know in life. It just means you learned the basics that the government deemed important. So make sure to sprinkle in lots of life learning along with your curriculum.
Teach by example and show your kids that they will continue to learn throughout their lives. They should realize that is a good thing! I don’t know about you, but there is so much I’ve learned myself since I started homeschooling! My goal in homeschooling is not so much what I teach, but more that I instill a love of learning that they will carry inside of them for life. It’s easier to homeschool when you are not stressed out and overwhelmed.
Don’t let your homeschool days become stressful and overwhelming! Learn how to create a homeschool routine for a simplified day. When you join the Homeschooling in Progress community, you’ll receive a guide with 5 Easy Steps to Create a Simple Routine for Productive Homeschool Days. You’ll also get homeschooling tips, activities, and resources sent right to your email inbox each month.
Mistake #7: Not taking care of yourself.
Again, you are doing your children no favor by burning yourself out. Homeschool moms have a lot of demands placed on them. You have children underfoot all day, everyday. You have lessons to prepare and teach. A home to manage. Meals to prepare. You may play chauffeur for all of your kids’ activities.
You need to take time for yourself too. Remember the safety talk when you are getting ready to take-off on an airplane? They instruct you to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. You can’t help anyone when you’ve let yourself run out of oxygen.
Solution: Take time for self-care.
So put your oxygen mask on first! Take time for yourself. This may look different to you than it does to me.
I know for myself, I need to recharge alone. I’m an introvert, and having kids talking to me all day long with no time for myself really drains me. So when I feel myself getting short with everyone, I’ll have my husband take over and enjoy some peace behind my locked bedroom door. Perhaps with a glass of wine and my favorite show on Netflix or a good book.
Maybe you like to recharge with a bath. Or shopping with a friend. However you recharge, you need to make it a priority in your life. You and your kids deserve a mom who is rejuvenated and refreshed.
When you homeschool, you get pulled in so many directions. It’s normal to struggle and question your abilities. We want what is best for our children, but we don’t always know what that is. That uncertainty can lead to stress and feeling depleted. But our kids already have a teacher who knows them best and is 100% invested in them. When you go easier on yourself and make time to recharge, you will find yourself in a more relaxed homeschool.