The following guest post on how to avoid homeschool overwhelm was written by Rochelle Barlow.
You’re excited to start homeschooling!
Then you start researching it all.
It is overwhelming and thrilling. All at the same time.
Here are some tips so you don’t have a meltdown.
Research it first
There are a lot of topics to research. There are a lot of places to find answers and opinions.
- Set a time limit. Research just an hour at a time to avoid burnout.
- Limit the amount. If you have books, don’t get 10 different ones. Get 2-4 that really resonate with you. Stick with just a few sources at once. That’s not to say you can’t read those 10+ books, just don’t do it all at once. If you’re studying up on scheduling find a handful of posts about it and leave it at that. Don’t keep adding on and on. It’s too much.
- Stick to one topic at a time. If you’re researching scheduling, stick to just that for now. If you find things that are interesting just bookmark it, put it in Evernote, or set it aside for later. It’ll be there when you get back. You can really get sucked into a black vortex and need a rope and flashlight to get back out of it.
- Take notes. As you read take notes on things that really strike you or that you might want to explore and think about more. If it’s a book or a post you can always revisit it, but it’ll save you time if you take good notes. Don’t just write what’s in the post, write your thoughts on the topic, or things you’ve thought of as you’ve read it.
Do what works for you
Be realistic. Be honest.
What works for someone else may not work for you. You or your children may not like a certain method, or a certain curriculum no matter how much you like the sound of it or how many good reviews it has.
That’s hard to stop doing, I know! You see those amazing homeschooling parents and think you’ll never be that amazing or be able to be that involved. Comparison is a lose-lose situation. You both lose. You’re either resentful or prideful. You’re either not good enough or too good for them.
We’re in this together. It’s not a competition! We all feel like we could do better. There’s no need to make it worse. Be kind to yourself.
Don’t set unrealistic expectations.
My first year I planned a ton of projects and units. I was so pumped. Two weeks in I realized it was just too much. It was too much time, too much money, and too much energy. I realized I had to cull things. I removed half the projects I had planned and the stress level dropped significantly. I stopped feeling guilty. My kids had fun and learned a lot. I learned more.
Another example. You can make your schedule however you want it. Do school Monday – Thursday with Fridays off, or make it a project day. You could do school for 6 weeks and then take 2 weeks off and repeat through the whole year. I’ve heard of some people do school year-round and take December off, March off, and July off. Some people do school in the morning, some in the afternoon.
It doesn’t matter when you do school or do not do it, so long as you’re doing school and your schedule is working for you.
Step by step
It’s not just a great family TV show, it’s a great way of life.
When you try to swallow an elephant all at once it proves impossible. One bite at a time.
Out here in Oregon school doesn’t start back up until the first week of September. Two weeks before we start adding in our school routine and their bed time changes. We start an art project and incorporate some writing to go along with it. The next week a science or history activity.
I don’t go full time on these subjects, just an introductory lesson or two, and a fun project or activity. It always seems like the school year sneaks up on me. I’m preparing, but I don’t feel mentally ready to begin the school year. This helps me get excited about it and the kids as well. We still have summer fun and play our brains out.
If it’s your first year homeschooling introduce one new subject a day until you’re doing them all (or some variation of this). Don’t overwhelm yourself!
Why are you homeschooling? What do you want from homeschooling for your kids? For your family? Keep your goals on paper and in front of you when you make decisions and plans.
Remember to put God first. Make sure your priorities are in the right order. God, your spouse, your children, your job, and then everything else. If you put God first then the rest will fall into place or out of the way.
Include prayer in your planning and in your decisions. Ask for help in any way that you need it. Make sure you’re open to do what God wants you to do for your family and your children. If you do that then it will work out. You will be blessed with the tools and the abilities you need. Through faith we can do all things required of us! Never forget that! Never forget that He wants you to succeed and He wants your happiness and He will guide you to both.
Ask for help
Still overwhelmed? Reach out to someone for a shoulder to lean on or cry on.
Take a deep breath.
If you don’t have someone to talk to, I’m always here! Honest.
Have I missed anything? Do you do something that I haven’t mentioned? Please share it.