It’s no secret that some families don’t enjoy homeschooling. There are families out there that struggle to get through their days, and weeks. Many-a-mother has shed tears trying to pick curriculum, keep on schedule, and teach multiple grade levels at the same time. Depression is experienced as women realize they cannot keep up with all the housework, schoolwork, and social pressures placed on them. And some homeschooling parents eventually just give in and start to believe that it could never be enjoyable. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is enjoyment to be had once the things that steal our joy are recognized and changes are made. Here are six things that can steal the joy from a homeschool.
The Wrong Attitude
If someone asked you why you homeschool, what would you tell them? Think about a reason and write it down before continuing to read this section. Most reasons will fall into one of two categories. The first category is the I want to category, and the second is the I have to category. If your reasoning had anything to do with feeling like you have to (it’s my job; I’m not sending my kids to school to get shot down, because I was homeschooled, Common Core is dumb; etc.), then perhaps that’s a mental block that’s hard for you to get past. If your reason was because you want to (I’m a stay at home mom, anyway, I might as well enjoy my kids all day; I’m so blessed to live in a nation that allows me to homeschool; I’ve always wanted to be a teacher; etc.) then you’re more likely to enjoy the time you spend during lessons–and your kids are too.
The Wrong Curriculum For Your Child
Not all children learn the same way. Some need a lot of interaction. Some just want to work independently. Some are creative. Some are not. When picking out curriculum, parents often choose what has the best reviews, what’s the most popular, what the neighbors do, or what’s cheapest. While these are all good indicators for great curriculum, they don’t necessarily line up with what’s best for the child. This can be even harder when two older kids are doing well with one curriculum and the parent wants to keep using it on other children as well (who may not learn the same way). I get that–you don’t want to buy a whole new set, or as the teacher, learn a whole new set yourself. This is a huge reason children learn a curriculum that maybe isn’t the best pick for how they learn.
The Wrong Curriculum For The Parent
On the other end of the spectrum, certain curriculum can be hard on the parent. If you purchase a fantastic curriculum that comes complete with projects and art assignments everyday, yet you yourself hate these activities, it can make for a miserable lesson day after day after day. Once you’ve picked out a list of curriculums that you think might be good for your child, the next step should be to ask yourself, can I do these day after day? If not, move on to the next option.
The Wrong Timing
In the stress of “doing the homeschool thing” some parents get stuck in the idea that since public school is from 8-12 for kindergarten, and 8-4 for older children, that they somehow need to keep the same schedule. This is nonsense! Pick the schedule that is right for your family and everyone is going to be much happier. There is also no rule that says you have to have school Monday through Friday with Saturdays off and run your homeschool year from August to May. Perhaps your homeschool is better run in the afternoons Tuesday through Saturday. Or maybe Monday, Wednesday and Saturday work better for your family and you are able to do this year-round instead of the standard school year. Homeschooling should be individualized to the needs of the family.
The Wrong Environment
Some homeschools have their own classroom. There’s nothing wrong with this, but just remember, you can’t be in a classroom and out attending to other children at the same time. I know a wonderful woman who has a classroom where she teaches her 3rd and 1st graders. She has a 3 yr old and a 4 yr old that she tries to keep in the living room during school hours. It is very difficult and frustrating for her. Where lessons are done makes a huge difference in the entire atmosphere of a homeschool. We use a combination of the kitchen table, the living-room couch, various places outside, and when students need their own quiet space, they’ve all got desks in their rooms they can go to. Picking a place not only where your child can learn, but also where other children can still be managed and mom can work on her daily schedule as time permits are all key ingredients to a warm and happy environment.
The Wrong Understanding of “Rest”
I don’t know any mom who isn’t tempted on the weekends to “catch up” on all the work that is missed during the week while she is working on lessons–myself included. We can’t always cook the way we want to if we’re teaching lessons, we aren’t able to deep-clean other rooms, the laundry may get behind, and so do our phone calls. When the weekend comes, it’s enticing to try to catch up on all your phone calls, laundry, cleaning, or other chores. Women have the drive to go-go-go, and sometimes in the spirit of just one more thing, we’re missing valuable rest time. We tend to steal from our rest time each night and on Sundays. How often should we rest? God made it pretty clear in the Old Testament that there were six days for normal work, and one for resting. He designed our bodies to need the rest. Not taking the time to rest leaves us fatigued and at risk for a vast array of emotions. Very few parents have a better time and more enjoyment from their homeschool time when they are fatigued. If we want to be alert and in control of our reactions, proper rest is essential to make a homeschool go smoothly–and this goes for our children as well. While homeschooling may not be for everyone, those who do make this choice have options available to assist them with making lessons more enjoyable for the parent and child alike. Is there one area in your homeschool you’d like to adjust to bring more joy? Or have you found something that works really well to share with other readers?