If you have reached a point in homeschooling where things have gotten hard, take heart. Here's how I navigated the rough patches of our homeschool journey.
When Times Get Tough
There will be times when homeschooling gets hard. The reasons are many, and some of them may be completely out of your control. But, there are things that can help you muddle through the tough times and forge ahead to better days.
What's Going On?
Identifying the underlying problem makes dealing with it so much easier. Sometimes challenges are caused by circumstances or a season that will pass, so realizing and accepting that can make a tough stretch easier to navigate. Other times, you may have more control over the situation. Perhaps the homeschool style you have chosen isn't working. Or, maybe your kids are going through a phase (yes, homeschooled children still do that!) It can also be easy to fall victim to unrealistic expectations. I'm pretty sure our family has actually dealt with all of these situations while homeschooling - and we survived!
Find an Outlet
Whether it's journaling or coffee with a friend, finding an outlet where you can express your frustrations and concerns can really make a difference. The simple process of having to wrangle your thoughts into actual words can help you get a handle on how you are truly feeling and help keep things from building up into an overwhelming presence in your mind. If your confidant also happens to homeschool, all the better. Perhaps they can share insights, and at a minimum, they will be able to relate on some level to your struggles.
Sometimes talking with others who don't homeschool can be beneficial as well. An outside perspective can be valuable; it can also sometimes make you realize how blessed you actually are, even in what may seem like a tough time. Little did I know, there were many people I knew who were envious of my ability to homeschool our kids.
Journaling can also be a great way to let go of pent-up stress and frustration. It can also be an opportunity to take some quiet time for yourself. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to go back and read your reflections later down the road. It's always interesting to look back on events that seemed so pivotal or traumatic at the time. Often, they are really not as earth-shaking as it seems in the moment. Journaling reminds me of that. If you can learn to note the joys as well, all the better!
Change Things Up
If a frantic schedule and no routine are part of the problems you are facing, then perhaps you should move on to the next section! If it's most any other homeschool dilemma, my go-to defense is a change of routine. Find a way to do something different - ideally something fun! Plan a field trip, move school outdoors, have a discussion over lunch at your favorite spot, volunteer as a family, or do something nice for a neighbor. The possibilities are endless. Remember, learning can take many different forms.
There were times we just packed it all up and walked away for a day - or a week. Let's face it, sometimes you just need a break and the opportunity to reconnect on a different level. It isn't about how many hours you spend doing school, it's about learning. If you've hit a roadblock, staring at school isn't learning; step away and go do something productive. Or, if you can't step away immediately, plan an adventure. Sometimes, simply having something to look forward to is enough to take the edge off.
Talk to Each Other
When you hit a rough spot while homeschooling, talk about it together. Sure, the kids don't necessarily need to hear your every frustration, but there are ways that you can all talk and listen to each other. Your children are probably feeling some stress, too. If nothing else, it teaches your children the importance of communicating during tough times. See, there's a lesson right there! Make sure to take the opportunity to talk about the good things that are happening as well. You might find that the good outweighs the bad when you all start sharing.
On that same note, do be careful about what you say in frustration around your children. Choose your words wisely and give careful consideration before sharing. There are certain things children just don't need to know. When a parent is both a parent and the teacher, the two roles can get blurred pretty easily. If the issues are truly academic, don't let them creep over into your family life. They need you as a parent 24/7, no matter how frustrated you might be about homeschooling.
Something good happens every single day. Find those good things. Write them down if you have to. Share them at dinner. Put them on sticky notes around the house. Write them in chalk on your driveway. The more you focus on the good things in life, the more of them you'll see. You can really only focus on one thing at a time, no matter how good you are a multi-tasking. If you are focusing on the good things, the challenges will immediately get blurry and harder to see.