Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homeschooling when you don't feel like it anymore

Maybe it's the late winter/early spring burnout so common to homeschoolers.  Maybe it's something more.  But I don't feel like homeschooling right now.  It's probably a temporary feeling, but, today and for the past few weeks, it hasn't felt that way.  Even though I continue to receive frequent reminders of the blessings of homeschooling, I'm just not that into it right now.

But we are still homeschooling.  It's almost April; even if my kids could be going to school in the future, I'm not going to send them now.  What would be the point, so close to the end of the year?   We've been counting educational days since July 1; we've only got another 30 or so to go.  It would be useless to make such a huge change now.

So how do we keep going when Mom wants to stop?   I started forcing independence.  I probably shouldn't use the word force because, of course, I can't force anyone to do anything.  But I can keep leading my kids toward independence.  That is the overall goal, after all, but right now it is just urgent for me to do so.  If I don't, we will all crash.  So each Monday I give my kids an assignment sheet with all the activities and bookwork I expect to get done that week. Some are things we do together, but most of it they do on their own, or with minimal involvement on my part.  I've actually been doing the weekly assignment sheet for a while, but I owned it.  Now they do.  It's their work, not mine. This hasn't been foolproof; more than once we've experienced frustration when a child has lost his or her assignment sheet in a pile of books or papers, or simply says "Oh, I didn't see that" or "I forgot."  We've also discovered that I sometimes forget commitments ("Oh, there's a Girl Scout meeting tomorrow?) or just overplan.  It's not always the kids' fault if not everything gets done.

We are still flexible, but the kids are in charge more now.   

I'm also just stepping back and letting them go a little more. I believe I've always encouraged this but now I am being a little more demanding about it.  We read The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct, a gorgeous and fascinating book, together last month; while some of the text was over all our heads, it inspired further research and a science-fair type project that includes a display board, artwork, and papier mache.  I provide the materials and time (it's on their weekly assignment sheets); they do the work.  This is just what I need for our portolios and my own sanity.  Oh, the kids are learning, too.  My contribution was reading the book aloud (not a burden) and buying the supplies. 

Now I am available when they need help with math, or grammar, or some other basic work, but I am not teaching them the math anymore.  I have more time for my distractions and other work, and even to go out for coffee with a friend once in a while.  One of the joys of older kids is leaving them home alone sometimes!  I am not weary when it's time for the parts of homeschooling I still love, like going on field trips and reading and discussing great literature with my kids. 

No doubt some of you reading are shaking your heads and saying something like "she thinks she's made some great discovery here?"  If I have learned one thing in my years of homeschooling, it is this:  everyone has to make their discoveries in their own time.

That goes for both kids and mom.


Sandy said...

How long have you been homeschooling? Around year ten I got tired of being the PR person for homeschooling and tired of homeschooling in general. We've had lots of good moments since then and short bursts of time when I was enthused about it, but really, since year ten it's been all about commitment and endurance. I've never returned to my original enthusiasm. Independent learning is your best friend now.

Becky said...

It's true that we all come to realizations in our own time and way.

I will pray for a refreshing of your heart and home, regardless of where your journey leads you! :-)

Kerri said...

Haha. So true,I'm always making some amazing new discovery that everyone else has know about for years. :)

Independence is good. I think the over dependent used to mom holding your hand sort of thing is one of the biggest drawbacks of homeschooling.

Kerri said...

BTW, I hope you didn't think my non-worry post was aimed at you in any way. It was the first thing that came to mind because the Lord has been really working on me in that area lately. It's been a really tough year finance-wise for us, and you know, the whole thing about God working in the times of trouble and all that. I'm really trying to change my thinking, and I have changed it a lot, and I don't want to go back to the old way even though I'm tempted at times. :)

Marbel said...

Kerri, I didn't think you were directing a post at me. I was getting messages of concern from people.

Though I do often find the blogs I read influence my own thinking and writing. Of course!

Carletta said...

So true that we all learn in our own time! I recently started giving my oldest more independence. I needed more time to teach the other kids and watch the baby, and I figured nobody would be holding his hand were he in school. I felt really bad about it because he's only 10, but it has been good for BOTH of us. He's so proud of what he's doing because he knows that HE's doing it. Anyway, glad you're still hanging in there and finding things that work!

Tonya Power said...

There is a saying I got from an older lady at church, that I repeat to myself at times... "Never do something for your kids that they can do for themselves." That has been one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received. I will still be doing things for the kids for a while, since mine are all 8 and under. However, leading them on a path of independence is a good rule to follow.