How to Keep Homeschooling When Life is Difficult
As homeschool moms, we set the mood in the home. And if we are going through a rough season in life—health problems, stress, marriage difficulties, etc.—it can be hard to homeschool. Here are my tips for homeschooling when life is difficult:
Take a Break
First, determine if you can (or must) take time off from school. For example, when my last two babies were born in the middle of the school year, I planned to take a month off to recover and adjust to our new baby.
Your break may be unplanned; for example, if you (or all the kids) come down with the flu for a week. One January, I had a colicky 3-month-old baby and likely some seasonal depression. We took most of that month off, as it was all I could do to take care of my newborn and myself.
Taking a break doesn’t have to mean taking a week or a month off. Maybe you just need a day to focus on whatever is causing the stress, or to have a mental health day where you all have fun together. Remember that school teachers get Pro-D (professional development) days at least once a month. It’s okay to take a break as a homeschool mom, too, to focus on your own wellness.
If taking a break isn’t an option, focus on the priorities. What schoolwork absolutely needs to get done during this season? Maybe your child struggles with math and simply has to do it every day, no matter what else is going on. Pare back to the basics—such as reading, writing and arithmetic—and let the extracurricular activities go for a bit.
Make a Change
Maybe this season in life requires some changes. For example, switching to online learning for some of your curriculum could take the work of planning and marking away. Your child can continue learning at home, without requiring as much support from you.
My husband and I talk about “the right choice for the right child at the right time.” There may come a time when the right choice looks different than you’d expected. In her newest book, Jennifer Fulwiler, a homeschool mom of six, says, “The name of the game is to take an honest look at the pros and cons of each option, and then figure out which one your family is best equipped to deal with.”
Talk to another homeschool teacher or a homeschool friend about what is going on. If you’re dealing with marriage issues, see a counselor or look for a marriage renewal weekend. If you’re struggling with depression or other health problems, talk to a doctor or therapist about solutions.
Ask for help, if you can. Maybe your mom or a friend can take the kids for one afternoon a week. Maybe you can hire a local teenager to help with cleaning (as I did for a mom who’d had a C-section for her fourth baby). Maybe a friend can set up a meal train for you (as my mom’s group does when one of us has a baby).
Bonnie Way is a homeschool graduate and a homeschool mom of five kids (with three in school). She currently makes her home in rainy Vancouver, where her annual ski pass makes January more bearable. When she’s not homeschooling or downhill skiing, she can be found drinking coffee with a friend or reading a book.