Homeschooling can be a rewarding way to educate your children, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Read on to learn how you can save your family from the grips of the homeschool monster.
Much like the swamp monster, homeschool gremlins lie about harmlessly camouflaged, hiding in the guise of everyday life. There may be a benign pile of workbooks and an unassuming stack of homework waiting to be graded, but that's just normal, right? But then it begins to happen...
Soon the piles grow, and your family starts eating dinner on the sofa because the kitchen table has been lost somewhere under homeschool paraphernalia. You find yourself doing 'just one more thing' at midnight. Weekends that used to be devoted to family time are now consumed by makeup lessons and catching up on lesson plans. If any of this sounds familiar, take heart: you are not alone.
If homeschooling has taken over your family's life, there are some concrete things you can start doing now to alleviate the issue. They include revisiting your reasons for and style of homeschooling.
Identifying the Problems
Begin by acknowledging that a problem exists. The earlier you catch it, the easier and faster you can remedy the situation. Make a list of changes that need to be made, and include your entire family when compiling the list. You are probably not alone in your feelings of invasion, but your spouse and children may identify problem areas you don't see.
Next, brainstorm ways to make changes. If everyone is involved in the decision process, you'll find that cooperation is much more likely! After all, this is a family affair, and sometimes different perspectives bring refreshing and unexpected ideas. Let's look at some things to keep in mind as you brainstorm for solutions.
Evaluating Your Reasons
People homeschool for all sorts of reasons. It's important to remember why you chose to homeschool in the first place, and maybe more importantly, why you are choosing to continue. Evaluate your current situation. Perhaps your focus or your methods have shifted from your original goals, and that is causing a disruption. It's easy to get caught up in the latest teaching trend or involved in co-ops and activities because 'everyone else does them.' Honestly look at why you are choosing to homeschool, and make sure your routines support your reasons.
Understanding Your Style
Some homeschool families don't do structured learning at all (unschooling), and others spend countless hours together as a family using unit studies to study history and literature across the grade levels at one time. Others still use structured online programs (like Study.com) that are virtually standalone and require little to no input from a parent. Some families use co-ops for classroom instruction, completing homework during the remainder of the week.
What is your family's homeschool style? There isn't a right or wrong answer, and you may find the answer changes as your family grows (up or larger!) or circumstances change. But, it is important to recognize what your homeschool style is and how it affects your family life. For example, unit studies take a lot of parent prep and involvement and can quickly take over you thoughts - and your house! But for families who enjoy that style, unit studies are worth it and the occasional invasion is part of the fun.
If you find yourself or your family feeling overwhelmed or invaded, perhaps the homeschool style you have chosen isn't a good fit. Don't feel guilty, just talk about what isn't working and try something new!
Setting Family-School Boundaries
It's important to be able to separate school from home life. One of the easiest ways to do this is to physically have a space to move, store, or do school where you can shut a door to or put a lid on a box (not a clear crate where it can taunt you all weekend!) Everyone in the family needs time away from school physically - kids included. Out of sight is out of mind.
The other kinds of boundaries you need to evaluate include those related to the clock. The beauty of homeschooling is that there are no steadfast rules; however, nearly everyone can benefit from some sort of routine and designated downtime.
Some families like to get started in the morning with a routine schedule, and often their children are done by mid-day. Many families like to look at their weekly schedules, factor in when their children seem to learn best, and then schedule 'school.' Sometimes it can be best to set aside times each day or during the week when no school take place. Regardless, of how you decide to schedule your homeschooling time, make sure it includes down time and respect the boundaries!
Viewing It as a Learning Process
Homeschooling can be a rewarding experience for your family, but it can easily become a consuming 24/7 activity that takes over every aspect of your family's life. If that begins to happen, step back and take a look at where you are. Try brainstorming together as a family to get back on track. And remember, homeschooling is a learning process!