That's it, I quit!

March 19, 2015

We love homeschooling! Homeschooling's great, but...

What if you feel utterly overwhelmed and ill-equipped? What if nothing seems to be getting through your children’s suddenly very thick skulls? What if you find yourself slogging through your days, struggling to drum up some enthusiasm for subjects like medieval history, biology, sentence structure and FRACTIONS! (AHHHHH!!!!!!!!) 

What if you just want to put the kids on the bus and quit homeschooling?

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Oh sister, do I ever feel you. Been there, done that, and it’s probably a good thing there isn’t a t-shirt. You are not alone. When homeschoolers congregate, there’s always a few of us right in this spot.

Let’s do some trouble shooting. Please know that I am not passing judgment. I’m simply pointing out some problems that homeschool moms sometimes fall into.

1.       Are you taking care of yourself?

I’m not talking manicures and massages here, but if someone offers, definitely accept! I’m talking basics. Are you sleeping, eating, staying hydrated, and getting a little exercise? If not, nothing is going to go well for you.

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2.       Are you home?

I believe a lot of learning is done without formal teaching and the world is your classroom. However, if you are out of the house more often than in and your kids are struggling, maybe you are over-committed. Maybe you can drop a lesson or group activity? Different seasons of life require different levels of at-home time in order for everyone to thrive.

3.       Are you hiding?

I love books, but I know I tend to overuse them as a way to escape from my world, which is full of issues that will not be neatly resolved in a few paragraphs. The same goes for TV and social media. While a little time spent on these pleasures isn’t bad, if you find you or your children are struggling, maybe it’s time to eliminate distractions. Sometimes we let our “me time” run well over into the time we should be spending on our children. Childrearing requires us to put down our devices, get up off the couch, and interact. (Ouch. Yeah, I’m like a nun with a ruler. Sorry about that.)

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4.       Do you own the curriculum or does it own you?

Even if you spend an arm and a leg on your curriculum, it is okay to not do everything it says. You own it and you can choose to leave parts out or do them in a different order. Maybe your child would be more successful if he could work on a block schedule, devoting an hour or even an entire day working on one subject, versus 15-20 minutes each day. Your curriculum doesn’t own you, tweak it as needed.

5.       Are you being realistic?

Some people homeschool so that their brilliant offspring will have their doctoral degrees by age 16. I hate to brush off all the pixie dust, but here is something to consider. Most of us have very normal children who will learn at a very normal pace. They may excel in one subject and struggle in another. That is normal. Yes, some of us may have exceptional children. I’m just suggesting you take a realistic look at your child and his abilities, whether they are exceptional or wonderfully normal.

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6.       Is this your first year?

Any teacher will tell you the first year is the hardest. You have not only taken on the job of teaching your children, you have also changed the routine of your home. It’s a change that takes some getting used to. I would suggest any first year homeschooling mamas who are considering quitting hang in there, at least until the end of the year. Consider how you are feeling in a few months. You don’t have to have a decision about next school year until the middle of August.

7.       Why did you decide to homeschool to begin with?

Before you quit, it is time to look at the reason you began. Sometimes the desire to quit comes along because we have wandered off the path we intended to follow. Maybe you chose to homeschool in order to spend more time as a family, but you are running your children to so many activities that you are hardly ever together. Maybe you planned to allow your child to pursue his love of art, but his struggle with math is eating up his time to create. If nothing else, if you are seriously considering quitting, you need to consider how those goals you had for your family and for each child will be met in another educational setting.

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8.       Last, question, have you shared your concerns?

If you are considering quitting, I strongly suggest that you share your concerns with an experienced homeschooling parent. Sometimes just saying what’s on your mind relieves half the stress. It’s also helpful to be able to discuss what is working and what is not. A voice of experience can give pointers, tell you if your concerns and struggles are normal, or if you need some assistance.

Every worthwhile thing I have ever done came with challenges and points at which I was worn out, overwhelmed, and tired. When I am tempted to quit in any endeavor, I consider my goals, reasons, and rewards and try to honestly assess the alternatives. What am I hoping to accomplish? Why am I doing this hard thing? Are the known rewards worth the effort required? Would the alternatives truly be easier? Would those alternatives allow me to accomplish my goals?

When I ask myself these questions regarding homeschooling, I always come to the conclusion that the rewards for my family are unique to homeschooling and far outweigh the efforts. For me, it has always been worth taking one more step. Just as it was your choice to begin homeschooling, it is your choice when it ends. Take your time to ask yourself these questions, weigh the options, and make the best choice for your family.

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There was a day I really needed the kids dressed and out of the house early in the morning. I told them to get dressed while I took a shower. When I came down, they were still in their pajamas taking crazy photos with the ipad. So, we were late for an important appointment, but at least they took some pretty cool photos. Frustrated or fascinated, it's a daily choice and all I can do is just keep trying to be fascinated. Look at that, they even hauled their baby sister into their petty crime.... sigh.

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