Attention all homeschool moms: are you feeling a little burned out yet? This is about the time of year it hits me. I’m disorganized. My school room is kind of a mess (only “kind of” now because I cleaned it earlier…when it was a total disaster!). I’m a little behind in certain areas of curriculum and thinking about how we can catch up and be done by the time I prefer to be done. We sort of school year round because life usually works better that way, but I try to have most things finished in May. I don’t mind doing some “school” stuff when it is so humid outside we can’t breathe! We like to enjoy some of the spring and fall weather. Isn’t that one of the best things about homeschooling? FLEXIBILITY. We can school where we want to, when we want to. Ah, I just love that. I like to take an extended break for Christmas. I *love* the holidays. Pregnancy and/or childbirth usually adds in a factor for me, and it is nice to be able to work around that. I have been *very* sick this first trimester. But, I *think* it’s almost over. I have felt a little better the last couple of days….hence that school room getting touched today. Look out, kids! Muahahaha! >:)
But alas, I do feel a little burned out this time of year. It’s the homestretch! Which means it’s the perfect time for…..homeschool conventions!! Oh, I *LOVE* convention. Love, love, love, l-o-v-e! We have been to two different conventions: The Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati and the Indiana Association of Home Educators Convention in Indianapolis. Due to some questionable actions by the Midwest Homeschool Convention leaders last year, we (along with many, many other homeschool families) have elected not to support their organization for the time being. So, this year we are heading back to Indiana for their convention. If you live in Indiana, I would encourage you to check them out. The IAHE is a Christ-centered organization and puts on a very nice convention. It may not be as large as some other conventions, but I always feel very refreshed and not as overwhelmed after I attend! Plus, the people are always very nice. If you are new to homeschooling, this is a very good convention at which to start. I am very much looking forward to it!
If you are a seasoned homeschool mom (or becoming one, at that!), this is also the time of year I start planning for next year and packing certain things away from this year. I’m nervous, because – Oh. My. Gosh. – we are going to have a high schooler next year. How is that even possible?? I am SO nervous! High school! That just seems impossible to me. I am pretty sure that I have all of our curriculum already chosen, but I will be revisiting that here soon before convention. I feel like I have to really be on my game. I’m also looking for a few 2nd grade things, and of course, more books. I never make it out of convention without a new stack of reading books!
One thing I would like to accomplish this next year is occupying the littles better during our school time. The oldest does well on his own for now, but his material is becoming more challenging and I will need to be a little more available to him. The middles are also still going to need me, as more independent learning is still a ways off for them. So, the littles are kind of left to their own ambitions, which is sometimes a good thing, and sometimes a bad thing. I try to organize the day in a way that prevents too much chaos and mess, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. So, I would like to start organizing “school boxes” for the little children of special things for them only to play with during school. I’ve seen this concept many times before, but never thought it really would be of use to me. Well, that time has definitely come! I tried something a little unofficially similar to that this year, but it did not last very long. I hope to gather a few new things at convention this year to start my “school boxes.”
Let me take this time to offer you new homeschool moms a little advice. When I first started on this journey, one of the first things I did was go to a convention. It was so great!! However, once I started listening to lectures, reading materials and talking to friends, I had many people to which I would go on to compare myself. It was so great to have supportive, well-meaning friends to encourage me to take the plunge! And they have always been there for me. Trouble is, everything you start with probably won’t work forever. Maybe not even the whole year. Or you might get lucky. The first year, I really just pieced some things together to see how it would all work. Two years later, I’m only using one or two of the same things! Allow me just write a short list of suggestions.
- Don’t compare yourself. THIS IS HARDER THAN IT SOUNDS. I still struggle with it! Confession: I am not a morning person. Never have been, probably never will be. So, you don’t get up at 5 am, have your quiet time while drinking freshly brewed coffee in the stillness of a quiet house, have your graded and new school work all set up in neat, individual binders all ready to go while a fresh loaf of bread is baking in the oven for your children to enjoy when they awake? Great! Neither do I. And if you do – I think that’s wonderful! I’m just not that good. But somehow, it all gets done. I grade on Sundays. We eat good food. I stay up late.
- Don’t compare your children to other people’s children. THIS IS HARDER THAN IT SOUNDS. I still struggle with it! Seeing a pattern, here? Try to remember: one of the reasons you are homeschooling is because you realize that your child is an individual. Therefore, he or she won’t be like your best friend’s children – or your other children! They may be ahead, behind, or both – in different areas. This is not an indictment on you as a mother/teacher; it is the BLESSING of being able to teach your child to his or her strengths and take your time to work on weaknesses at an appropriate pace.
- If something isn’t working – don’t blame yourself. Accept that it is not working, and move on! This is yet another blessing of homeschooling! You aren’t forced to hold to any particular curriculum or teaching method! Trust me – something won’t work. Hopefully just one thing, but probably more than one thing! And that is O.K. Read that again. IT IS O.K.! Take a break, and you’ll figure it out. Promise!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. I am always amazed at how I am continually discovering new things I never knew existed in the homeschool community. Joining a local homeschool e-mail list in your state or community can be a great way to access information and share ideas. There is one available through the IAHE, and it served me very well during my time in Indiana. Here in Tennessee, I am a member of an email list through Tennessee Home Education. An e-mail list is a great resource you can use when you need it, but without any other commitments! And it’s free!
- Don’t be afraid to take a break when YOU need it, as well as when your children need it! It’s difficult to get out of your mind the “typical” school year of Sept-June, with those regular breaks in the Fall, Christmas, Spring and Summer. But now you are free! Free from the ties that bind you to ANY certain schedule. Laundry is piled up, you’re super stressed and everyone is crying? Stop. Breathe. Call it a day. Because really, what are you going to accomplish worth something anyway in that condition?
- Realize that education is more than textbooks and worksheets. Expand the realm of your view of learning. Playing in the dirt and looking at worms is actually very educational!
- Pray. Pray, pray, and pray some more. The Lord is on your side in this.