Staying Sane as You Homeschool is a wonderful paperback handbook for homeschooling parents. It is written for the parent of special needs students in particular, but I found that it applied to my role as a homeschooling mom of both a child with special needs and also in meeting my other children’s needs that are typical of the average student. How can this be? It is because it relates to your needs as a homeschool parent, rather than meeting the needs of your children.
When you are homeschooling a child with special needs, there are certainly greater hours which are spent, not only in instructional time, but also in selecting curriculum and resources that will match your child’s abilities and learning style. Many of these children have splintered skills, making it that much more challenging to find school materials that fit. In Part I of this handbook, Mrs. Kuhl suggested that this never-ending search for the perfect combination of materials may actually be one way that we begin sabotaging our own homeschool endeavors. Part I focuses on ways that we can actually be creating some of our own challenges, in our homeschooling journey. As highlighted above, there are times where we can get too focused on perfection--on so many levels--that we lose our zeal and joy in the journey. Some other areas that are considered in this section are our comparison to other homeschooling families, wrapping our success up in our child’s success, coddling our special needs children at times when they need to be challenged, and those bad feelings when everyone else seems to be bragging on their child’s achievements, as you cry over your child’s struggles.
Part Two of Staying Sane as You Homeschool focuses on our need to take care of ourselves, as homeschool moms. Moms are so good at putting themselves at the bottom of the list of priorities as they compile their list of things to do each day. How many of us have great intentions of exercising more or preparing special meals to assist us in losing weight, yet find that these are the very things that fall by the wayside as our day progresses? Our primary focus becomes the schooling of our children. We become professionals at redefining everything in our lives as an educational experience. What used to be a leisurely family outing to the school is transformed into a science field trip, and scavenger related to an animal taxonomy study we have been doing? How about the game of kickball? Is it no longer just having fun and burning off extra energy and is redefined as PE? The difficulty is not in using these real life skills to enhance our more academic learning. The problem lies in when we begin defining who we are, who our children are, and our family life experiences in terms of everything school. The zeal and joy that we and our children have for school will quickly wane, as it becomes a heavy monkey on our backs. The author does a remarkable job of bringing this back into focus in discussing our integral need to take care of ourselves as women, wives, and mommies outside of our school.
This handbook is an amazingly practical and inspiring guide in helping to getting things back in perspective, and back in the order that our priorities should be. It is not a resource that will be stored on my bookshelf, but has earned a place on my nightstand. Its inspirations and grounded approach allow me to go back to it time and time again (in small snippets). It helps me to keep my joy and energy for homeschooling each of my children, regardless of their needs, without allowing school to dominate our lives. Staying Sane as You Homeschool is reasonably priced at $5.95 on Amazon, making it readily accessible to most homeschooling families. This book is a very worthwhile investment.