There are many reasons why homeschooling parents can experience burnout during the school year. It could be seasonal (a long winter), topical (curriculum feels stale), or more personal (family crisis, illness). It may even get to a point that you feel like throwing in the towel — but it doesn’t have to stay that way!
In past years when I was homeschooling my now-graduated daughters, I suffered from homeschool burnout about this time of year. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I was also anxious that we weren’t going to get enough done before the summer break — and my girls really counted on a summer break. I would become tired of planning lessons and pushing the girls to finish them. At the same time, they would struggle to stay focused. Every year, the same feeling of impending failure — the “maybe I wasn’t cut out to be their teacher as well as their mother” feeling — would start to set in.
Then several years ago, Tulsa began hosting the annual OCHEC Homeschool Convention: This year, it’s taking place at the end of April. Oh, what a relief it is! I start looking forward to this conference as early as January. It isn’t just the workshops and the vendors hall: It is the whole atmosphere. It’s so refreshing to be surrounded by so many other homeschooling parents all there to be encouraged and learn new ways to do a better job.
Now I’m homeschooling my 10-year-old son Joel, and at times I still feel this pressure (that I put on myself) to get “enough” bookwork done before summer. However, so much of how Joel learns is not done at the table, where it is easily analyzed and graded. I have to keep reminding myself that his real-world learning is so much better than anything he learns in his workbooks.
Joel is a good reader, and his math skills are great. He is above his grade level in so many other areas — areas that aren’t easily tested except through observation. He speaks articulately to people of all ages, although sometimes his innate shyness kicks in. I recently wrote a post about the value of independent learning and Joel’s self-taught computer skills, which continue to surprise me. And his knowledge of our small business is astounding: I am constantly amazed at all he is learning just by being his dad’s sidekick at our donut shops.
All that to say this: You can go from burnout to blessed by changing your perspective. When you start to experience homeschool burnout, step back and look at why: Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? Is there too much going on at home? Is your curriculum uninspiring? These are all things you have control over. Feel free to make any changes necessary to breathe life back into your homeschool for the remainder of the school year.
I also recommend attending a homeschool convention for inspiration, continuing education, and encouragement. If you’re located in or near Oklahoma, the Tulsa OCHEC Homeschool Convention is next month, and I will be a speaker there for the very first time! If not, we also highly recommend the Teach Them Diligently Convention, which takes place in several cities across the country so you have options. My sister Elizabeth, sister-in-law Renée and I have attended in the past and plan to be at Teach Them Diligently in Dallas this July. We would love to see you there!
How do you cope with homeschool burnout? What changes (if any) do you make about this time of year to breathe life back into your days? Have you ever attended a homeschool conference for inspiration and education, and if so, what’s the most valuable part of attending these homeschool support events?