How To Homeschool When It Feels Like a Burden
I’ll be the first to admit that homeschooling can feel like a burden at times, but just because a burden can be heavy sometimes, it doesn’t have to be a negative one.
For example, think about the literal burden of pregnancy on your body. It can be hard, but man is it ever worth it! The same can be said regarding home-schooling our children.
As a homeschooling mom of 9 ½ years, I can say that there are still days where I’m just trying to make it through the school day, as it feels like such a huge load. And to be honest, I don’t know if that will ever change.
I always dreamed of being a relaxed, fun, easy going homeschool mom. Instead, homeschooling brings all my character flaws to light and those of my children. Homeschooling stretches us and challenges us in so many ways.
More often than I’d like to admit, when it comes to homeschooling, I’m frustrated, ungracious and impatient. This is not the homeschool mom I want to be, but homeschooling can feel like such a burden and when that happens, my attitude and mindset are usually less than gracious.
There are so many things that I love about homeschooling, but there are still things I struggle with on a weekly, if not daily basis.
The Reason Home Schooling Feels Like A Burden
I never intended to go the homeschooling route, even though I had enjoyed many aspects of it myself as a homeschooled kid.
It wasn’t something I WANTED to do. It’s not something I would’ve chosen to do.
Homeschooling is something I have been CALLED to do. You can read more about How We Became a Homeschool Family here.
Here’s the thing, life is messy, even with the good, the great and the not so enjoyable, and homeschooling isn’t any different.
Homeschooling is an amazing opportunity, but it can feel like an overwhelming burden at times.
However, I’ve come to realize that a lot of the times the reason schooling at home can feel like such a burden, is our own fault and here’s why.
I believe that often, our idea of a “successful” homeschool looks a lot different than what God considers to be a “success”.
God loves each and every one of us, and He loves our children even more than we do. He has a purpose, a plan, a hope and a future for each of us.
If He has called you to homeschool your children, then you are equipped continually for the journey.
When we lose sight of what our purpose is and what God’s plan for our family is, we end up piling things into our lives that we were never intended to carry. We overcomplicate it and this makes our load feel impossible.
Our world puts so much emphasis on academics, but academics are not eternal. I think it’s important that our children know how to read and write, how to think critically and do math, but more importantly, how to love God, love one another, respect and honor and follow instruction. Relationships have eternal value and we have the opportunity to focus on these as homeschooling parents.
Why Homeschooling Feels Like A Burden
· We overcomplicate things
I love all the opportunities that our children have to learn, but they don’t have to be in every extracurricular activity or speak 4 different languages. Who says our children have to do it all? Keep it simple.
· We’re inconsistent
Having curriculum choices is a wonderful thing, but it can also cause inconsistency because we have the opportunity to jump to something new if we don’t think something is working. Sometimes we have to see things through and be consistent.
I may get a lot of flak for this, but sometime the problem isn’t that the curriculum isn’t working for the child, but the child isn’t working the curriculum and learning to do the hard thing and see it through. It’s actually really hard on anyone to be constantly changing things around.
When they grow up, their boss isn’t going to change how the company operates to accommodate them, they have to learn to adapt.
I’m not saying don’t ever change homeschool resources…we’ve changed up our math a couple times, but ask yourself, is the curriculum really not working, or is it just that the child doesn’t want to do the work? Does it require more input and hand holding from you than you anticipated?
· No support system
Homeschooling without a support system is daunting. If friends or family are not on board supporting and encouraging you, find friends who will...even if it’s an online community. We all need someone we can ask questions of or bounce ideas off of.
· Negative mindset
If you see homeschooling as a negative thing, or having your children home all day as negative, I’m sorry, but you are going to have a hard time making it. Decide to focus on the good.
· We forget that sometimes good enough is good enough
There really is no perfect way to homeschool, so stop trying to find the perfect way to homeschool. I’m not saying give up and don’t do anything, I’m saying keep going and let go of expecting everything to be perfect. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
· We’re in fear
Fear of what others think can be a huge factor in any area of our lives. If we are afraid of what others think of our choice to homeschool, it’s going to keep us from moving forward. You will never be able to make everyone happy.
Comparisons have a negative impact on our lives. When we compare, we set ourselves up for feeling unsatisfied. Stop comparing, period.
Another thing I see tripping up homeschoolers is comparisons and shiny object syndrome. There will always be a new curriculum or program that someone else has loved or had great results with. That doesn’t mean you have to do it too.
· Trying to do it all
Guess what? You are not going to be able to do it all. True story ;).
Being a mom is a lot of work. Being a homeschool mom is even more work. There may be some things that you need to let go of (even if it’s just for a season) and that’s ok.
· Unrealistic expectations
Unrealistic expectations can make you feel like a failure or even your children feel like a failure, if they aren’t measuring up. Set some goals, but don’t make them so difficult, that they’re too hard to reach.
· No systems or routines in place
I am a huge fan of systems and routines as they help everyone have a general idea of what the expectations are, without having to continually repeat myself. When nobody knows what the expectations are, they are unsure of what to do and you will have to spend time repeating and explaining. Save yourself time and frustration by putting systems and routines in place for your home and your school.
· Forgetting to slow down and enjoy the process
I have been guilty of this on many occasions. There are times when I have pushed for the kids to get things done, rather than stepping back a bit, slowing down and actually enjoying the process of teaching them.
· Not taking a much-needed break
We all need a break at times and when we fail to take a break, we burnout. It’s hard to keep going when we burnout. Think of taking a break as preventative care. Maybe you need to take a break for a day or a week and do something different. Put down the books and do some more hands on learning. I love that schooling isn’t just about workbooks. There is so much our children can learn from the day to day world around them.
· Not planning enough or rigidly over planning
Life is meant to be a balance and the same can be said for homeschooling. Not having a plan sets us up to fail.
I know if we didn’t have a plan for our schooling, we’d end up having more non-school days than school days.
As far as over planning goes, for those that love to plan, when we over plan there tends to be a feeling of failing when we don’t get the plan accomplished. Having a rigid plan doesn’t allow for sick days or days to slow down and change directions if we want to.
I think planning is a great thing, but instead of planning everything to the max, give some margins and wiggle room.
For example, don’t plan 5 days of schooling, plan 4 with a day to catch up or day for activities.
· We don’t make school a priority or give it the needed time and attention
My opinion is not necessarily a popular opinion. Homeschooling does require a significant amount of effort and time on our part. I don’t think it should be a haphazard process. Ultimately, we are the ones responsible for our children’s education.
If we see homeschooling as an inconvenience…which it does feel like at times, we need to adjust our attitude. We also need to make sure the school work gets done on a consistent basis and that we follow up to make sure our children are understanding what they are learning.
I love that homeschooling gives us the flexibility to learn whatever we want to, but we can’t allow the flexibility to lead to an undisciplined homeschool. We do need to get the work done. As the mom and teacher, that means taking the time to plan and prep, follow thru and follow up.
Don’t just give out spelling words, make sure they get them correct.
· We’re too hard on ourselves when we have a rough day, or don’t finish the book, or…
Again, balance. We can’t beat ourselves up if we have a hard day or week, or if we didn’t finish the workbook completely. At the end of the day, have you given it your best? If so, great. If not, there’s always tomorrow. We need to learn to relax a little, yet still keep moving forward.
The Reality of Homeschooling
Realistically, HS is not all fun and games. It takes an investment of time and it’s a big commitment. We also have to be disciplined to do the hard things and make it a priority on a daily basis.
I’ve come to realize that successful, unburdened homeschooling is a lot like successful homemaking.
· We need to be consistent with our habits
· Watch our attitudes and mindset
· Relax a little
· Create systems and routines, but be flexible
Please remember, it is normal to feel like homeschooling is a burden. Learn to slow down and take breaks, plan, but have some flexibility and change your attitude.
For me the biggest burden has been dealing with attitude, my own and that of one of my children. This journey is as much about my children growing in character as it is for me to grow in character. Do we give up when the going gets tough or do we keep going? Our children are watching. And we want a strong, beautiful character for ourselves and our children.
Also, ask God to show you hints of the wonderful benefits of for home-schooling your family, because sometimes we lose sight of what those are. It could be noticing that the children help one another in their work or are playing well together. Those are all reasons for thanksgiving.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, it’s time to reset. Sometimes we need to see the hard things through and sometimes we need to rest and play. Next time you are feeling the heaviness, get out of the house for a bit and create memories. Go to a park you’ve never been to, or have an impromptu breakfast out somewhere, go for a field trip or skip the books and go to the beach or make an elaborate craft you know your kids will enjoy.
Do something memorable.
To keep your homeschooling from feeling like a burden, remember:
· Don’t overcomplicate things
· Find yourself a support system
· Consistency…small habits have big impact
· Change our mindset
· Sometimes good enough is good enough
· Shed the fear of others
· Stop comparing
· Stop trying to do it all
· Create systems and routines
· Slow down
· Take a break
· Plan, but be flexible
· Make it a priority
· Stop being hard on yourself
Yes, sometimes homeschooling feels like a burden, but with that also comes the privilege and opportunity to pour into our children’s lives and watch them grow, on a daily basis.
Some years will be better than others. There are seasons. With purposeful planning, intention, grace and trusting the Lord with it all, you can have an unburdened homeschool.
What feels like the biggest burden when it comes to homeschooling for you?