Spring “break” or homeschool burnout?

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Once again, it is spring break! Every year at about this time, I find myself needing the break. But I also get worried that taking one may put us behind (or further behind than I already feel). I count the weeks left until my arbitrary “school’s out” date and worry that we won’t get everything done that I had planned to get done. In the end, I find myself telling my children, “OK, we will have spring break, but before you can go play with your friends every day, you must do these two things…” This year, it is Rocket Math and reading.

Homeschool Burnout

However, I think my children probably need the free time as much as I do. By this time, I swing between feelings of homeschool burnout — so ready for the school year to be over — and anxiety that we won’t get finished. Then there is also all the time I begin to spend planning how much better next year is going to be. I am always planning ahead and dreaming about how much smoother things will go and how much more fun it will be if I make changes.

Silly thing is, I know that although our school days may end after the first week of May, learning goes on all summer. We take part in the library reading program, Bible camp, golf camp, swim lessons, zoo trips, and we visit family. I also make sure we do some math practice throughout the summer. There isn’t a formal lesson plan, and it seems like so much more fun.

So why can’t I just enjoy the learning that is taking place right now?

Homeschool Burnout Summer Break

This year I have been thinking about why we experience homeschool burnout more than ever. Because this year, I have really enjoyed helping Joel reach his goals. Maybe it’s because I started homeschooling him from the beginning (kindergarten) that I don’t feel like I am behind, because I always felt that way with my older girls, who were preparing for high school graduation. Yet I still feel some pressure now — especially with Joel’s Story of the World History — to get finished on time so that we don’t have to continue it through the summer. Even though I know that it is less important to simply finish the book and more important that my son connects with the stories we do complete, it’s easy to feel like I’m behind.

What I’ve learned is that end-of-year burnout is the result of three things: over-thinking the current situation, being anxious and stressing out about “keeping up,” and trying to plan three steps down the road when I should just be enjoying the learning taking place right now, everyday.

I can say this now because this year, I realized that I haven’t really experienced the level of homeschool burnout that I have felt in the past. This year I know I am not behind. In fact, I am enjoying the learning taking place with my son (on most days), and I know the learning never stops — and it can be fun, even if it’s not summer vacation.

This is my advice about burnout: This homeschool lifestyle is all about endurance. It’s about finishing the race. So don’t set arbitrary deadlines. Make learning as fun as possible — all year round if you can. Then pray and know that if you are following God’s plan, you are right where you need to be, and He will lead you to completion. Delight in the work God has given you and enjoy the journey.

Are you experiencing any “end-of-year” burnout? Did you take a Spring Break this year, and if so, did it help you (and your children) regroup? What helps you revive your homeschooling energy at this time of year? Let us know in the comments below.

Rosanna Ward is a devoted wife of 22 years and mother of four children, two of which are homeschool graduates. She currently homeschools her 11-year-old son Joel and 5-year-old son Leif. Rosanna is a homeschool graduate and a graduate of Oral Roberts University who has been homeschooling since 2005. She and her husband own two Daylight Donuts shops. She is also publisher of Tulsa Homeschool Happenings. Rosanna loves to study History and Genealogy: Her genealogy blog is called “Rosanna’s Genealogical Thoughts.” She and her family reside in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

10 thoughts on “Spring “break” or homeschool burnout?

  1. I haven’t hit the burnout yet, but I am sure it is coming! Last year, I felt extremely behind come May because it was so beautiful outside and that is where we were. We didn’t get much work done. This year, I planned for that last month to be low key and outdoors. I signed the kids up for classes at a local park so they are still learning-but in a fun way. I plan to keep up with our daily work (daily math, grammar, journal and reading) but otherwise, we will be outside hiking, exploring, kayaking and enjoying this time together. The feeling of “behind” I think comes from the curriculum and world of traditional school. It is ok not to finish the grammar book or the math book by the end of the year. You can work on it some during the summer on rainy days or pick up where you stopped during your next school year. I find that to be one of the benefits of homeschooling!

    1. exactly! That is what I have learned and I’m still learning. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. This is a great article. As long as we can get that “getting behind” mentality out of our heads, there’s no reason to feel rushed or stressed. We would never want to rush our children growing up…usually we’re lamenting that they grow too fast! Homeschooling is just another part of every day life so why rush that, right? Whose schedule are we not keeping up to? 🙂

    I’m sharing my Fresh Strawberry Cream Torte today for my Homemaking Linkup. I hope you’ll join us if you haven’t already!

    Blessings,
    Mrs. Sarah Coller

    1. Thanks for reading, commenting and for the encouragement. Strawberry Cream Torte? Yum!

  3. With my high schooler we are both feeling burnt out. We haven’t been able to take Spring break because he’s playing catch up in math. It looks like he’ll be working through the summer. I wish I could find an online program like the one I use for my daughter in elementary. Time4Learning is fun for her, so I never have to fuss with her to do school. She doesn’t fall behind. T4L keeps a record of all her work and progress, so I can easily check her scores and help her where needed, and it makes record-keeping a breeze. If you know of something like this for high school, please tell me….that would solve my burnout with my oldest. :/

    1. Janet, we used Saxon Math for my high schoolers and some Teaching Textbooks so I’m not much help in that area. Math seems to be the one area I feel the most pressure to keep up with.

  4. It definitely helps to be looking at this with hindsight. We took breaks — summer, Christmas, spring, in the middle of nowhere — and they were invaluable. But one thing that helped us is that we were not chained to curriculum and workbooks; we learned by living and doing, and you live and do anytime you’re breathing, whether you’re writing an essay or not.

    We all need time away from structure, and thinking that we can hit it hard all year, with a day break here or there at most, is a recipe for failure. But maybe it’s not failure — if it gets us to think twice about how we’re doing things and change our learning model, then that’s a good thing, not bad.

    I hope you truly enjoy your spring break!

    1. Carolyn, I learned this after homeschooling my daughters but seem to have to relearn it now that I am teaching my son. The one subject I always feel pressure about is Math – the rest I can do the whole live by learning thing with but I feel like for math there are certain steps that need to be taken in order and I don’t wan to get behind.

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