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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Best Kept Homeschool Secret Ever

I don't know if people are really ready to hear this.

In all the years I have homeschooled, I have formulated one well-kept gem.

It is the tool that every successful homeschooler I know (and I know a lot) has relied on.  It has saved many a homeschool disaster and re-railed a lot of  derailed trains.

It is simple.


It's not that serious.  Sit down, put your feet up, let your kids put their feet up too.

Are you relaxed yet?


Let me try a different approach.

I read a lot of homeschool blogs, from journal type blogs like mine, to curriculum heavy blogs, to blogs that focus on the holistic child.  In reading all of these wonderful journals from fellow homeschoolers (and the ideas are truly wonderful) I just get the sense that folks are trying too hard.

Now, I could be wrong. Maybe these folks are just sooooo awesome that the stuff that they share ... tips, tools, insights, appear to be work for peons like me.. but for them, it's just fun.  BUT... I just get tired reading it.

Now I need to relax.

I love all of the homeschool stuff that is shared on the internet. I truly do, and I don't recommend for a moment, that you don't do some of these things... that feel natural to you.  But guys, you have to stop trying to do it all.  This is where homeschool burnout comes from.

Now that I have suggested relaxation, I don't mean that we should just discontinue all active homeschooling, and hope that our kids pick up some learning from the TV.  No.  What I do mean is that you keep it simple.

By all means, prepare your homeschoolers for college prep coursework, plan out their highschool plan, map out their year, and do regular check-ups to make sure you are roughly on track, but don't fill every waking moment with an activity, a game, a puzzle, a chore.  Let their lives be a little more organic than that. Let them take lots of breaks.  Let them fall behind and then catch up. Let them sleep in, and stay up late.  Let them just be.

In all of my years of homeschooling, the times when we struggled the most were those times when I forgot to relax and began to overplan homeschooling and to get all homeschool-competitive. The times when they learned the most, and broke through barriers was when I let-up, and gave them a break.

In summation, (let's see if I can clean this up) I feel like many of us work too hard to make homeschooling something regimented and constructive, and schoolish.  We don't realize we are doing it, and even try not to, but we do.  We put preschoolers on a boxed curriculum, and freak out when our 11th graders don't have enough college credits.  In the meantime, the kids start to push back and rebel, and we feel like homeschool failures.  Meanwhile, I have found that the proverbial watched pot doesn't boil, and that when left to their own devices, (beyond the required basics), an 11 year old can teach himself to build websites, and an 9 year old girl can suddenly sing 3 or 4 octaves and develop an unquenchable love of history and reading. *Results are not typical, nor should they be.

So can we please try to stop planning our children's successes and instead chill out a little and let them reveal their successes to us?

I know.  It's easier said than done.  I probably would have ignored this advice myself a few years ago and called myself crazy.



Happy Elf Mom said...

This is *great* advice to parents who are diligent to teach their children. Who care deeply about the outcome. NOT so much some of the families we discussed a couple weeks back.

Hope this note finds everyone in your family feeling well. :)

usethebrains godgiveyou said...

"The times when they learned the most, and broke through barriers was when I let-up, and gave them a break. "

Less busy work, more thought.

I felt "guilty" when I didn't demand output from a English curriculum my son used in "11th grade." Two years later, when he took a college course in English, he received 100's on his papers. He had learned to express himself eloquently without my input. It sunk in...

Ahermitt said...

Too true Happy. This advice isn't for everyone.

This reminds me of when my brother and I were teens. Mom would turn to me and say, put the book down, take a break, go for a walk.

Without taking a breath, she would turn to my brother and say pick up a %&^% book!

I needed to stop stressing, and he needed to study.

This note is definitely for those who may be trying too hard, not for the ones not trying at all.

Anonymous said...

LOL! I could not have thought or said it better myself. I also have read some wonderful, inspiring, and honestly, exhausting at the thought, blogs by what I consider to be "Super" Homeschool moms. In fact, a mom at one of my local co-ops, sent out to everyone a end of year Christmas letter. This was something I just have always felt was a bit braggy, but to each their own I guess. Anyways, she goes into detail about all their accomplishment's they had achieved through out the year. Well, lets just say I do not know where or when they slept, or ate?! I actually wondered," Are they human?!" I would be so frazzled if I attempted such a schedule, but maybe for them it works. Or maybe she is secretly wearing a wig to hide wear she has pulled out all her hair in secret! Honestly, I feel that many homeschool parents feel like they have to live up to a un achievable expectation. That we as homeschoolers need to prove that are children are truly better off not in a public school system, that we as parents are doing our job 1000%! the problem with all of this is that we never learn to as you put it "Relax!" Never being able to really enjoy the homeschool experience. This is why I try to just go with the flow. My kids use a fun online program (Time4Learning) that they can use at their own pace. We also do lots of fun Unit Studies that they are interested in and we choose to school year round so that learning never stops, but also goes at a normal IMO pace.
Anyways, thanks for letting me chime in and Great Post :)


educator said...

I love your statement: "So can we please try to stop planning our children's successes and instead chill out a little and let them reveal their successes to us?" They will tell us so much if we just listen and observe.

A.N.N.'s Educational Services said...

I enjoyed this and am learning :), not just in the homeschool arena though. Like you I am learning to put more me into the equation and not so much everyone and everything else. Hence, i am relaxing reading blogs.