Homeschool Challenges: Staying Motiviated as the Homeschool Teacher
Help for the Weary Homeschool Mom (or Dad)
Homeschooling is more than an educational choice; it’s a lifestyle. Although that lifestyle is one most homeschool families would not exchange for any alternative, it’s not always easy. Being solely responsible for your children’s education can be stressful. Not only that, but homeschooling parents are also parent and teacher, and still face all the typical family issues (such as bickering siblings) day in and day out.
1. Enjoy a mom’s night out. When I’m feeling particularly stressed or just need some time with other adults who understand the pressures and stress of homeschooling, I call a few friends for a mom’s night out. It’s rarely difficult to convince a few ladies to join me for some uninterrupted chat time and a dinner that we don’t have to prepare.
2. Take a day off. I don’t like to shirk my duties as home educator, but every once in awhile I just need a break.
Taking a day off from formal learning doesn’t mean that learning ceases. Some ideas for a productive break day include:
- Snuggle up in bed to read great books together
- Curl up on the couch to watch documentaries or other educational, yet still entertaining fare
- Call a “life skills” day – This can include asking everyone chip in to clean the house, cooking together, or learning a new skill (think wood shop or auto mechanics, sewing or knitting).
- Take an impromptu field trip
- Visit the library
- Go to a museum
- Have an arts and crafts day
As you can see, just because you don’t pull out the school books, there are plenty of fantastic learning opportunities. Sometimes we all just need a change of scenery.
3. Adopt a year-round homeschool schedule. One of the smartest things I ever did for our homeschool and my sanity was adopt a year-round homeschool schedule. There are many ways to accomplish such a schedule. We do a six weeks on/one week off rotation with one six week break during the summer and another between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
Other families work four weeks on/one week off year ‘round, while others work on a nine weeks on/two weeks off schedule.
Still others school year ‘round taking random breaks as needed.
4. Invest in personal hobbies. As homeschooling parents, we often allow our identity to get wrapped up in our role as home educator and neglect our own hobbies and interests. This isn’t good for us or our children. It’s important that our children see us taking time to pursue our passions so that they are inspired to pursue theirs. If yours is a hobby that you can share with your family, that’s a bonus, but there is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself to pursue your own interests.
5. Take a park or play day. Homeschool critics are very concerned about homeschool kids being properly socialized. You can ensure that they are and give yourself a much-needed day off by meeting up with some friends for a play date. If you have younger kids, a park day is an excellent idea because it offers fresh air and sunshine in addition to that all-important socialization. If it’s too cold or nasty to be outside, indoor play parks make a wonderful alternative.
My teens enjoy meeting their friends at the indoor trampoline park. The indoor rock-climbing facility and the roller skating rink are on our to-do list. The kids can play while the homeschool parents chat. Everyone benefits!
6. Childcare sharing. If you have a friend who has children similar in age to yours and everyone gets along well, childcare sharing is a wonderful way to get some alone time. A friend and I did this when our children were younger. I’d drop my kids off at her house to play for a couple of hours and the next week she’d drop her kids off at my house. It was the perfect solution for running errands alone or simply returning home to clean, work on a project, or savor the quiet.
Our homeschool group also did something like this on a larger scale. Several moms agreed to swap out childcare at a local indoor playground. A few moms dropped their kids off while a couple stayed behind to keep tabs on everyone. We held several such play dates so that all the moms got a chance for a day out.
Homeschooling is an amazing lifestyle, but it’s not without its stressful days. Taking some time to recharge as the homeschool parent is vital for avoiding burn out.