You have been planning for weeks, maybe months. The pencils are all sharpened, the textbooks are nice and shiny, and you have your schedule all laid out. What could do wrong? The truth is anything! Just as in life, things can and will go wrong. Does that mean you have failed? Not really. Every homeschooling mom faces challenges and failures. So the key is to prepare for them before it happens. Difficulties can easily lead to burnout unless you plan to fail! Here are the many ways you can plan to fail, so you can pull through and succeed.
On paper, your schedule looks perfect. You envision the day running smoothly from one subject to another, then enjoying an afternoon with the kids or tackling your own work while the happily play. However, even the best designed schedule can fail. Maybe starting at 8 AM is never going to work. Perhaps, by the time you get to history or science the kids are spent. Or what happens when language arts takes 45 mins instead of the 20 you plan? Instead of beating yourself up that you can’t stick to the schedule, make the schedule stick to your homeschool. A schedule is a tool, be willing to revise and adapt. Use the first couple of weeks to get a feel for how your homeschool works and then set a schedule, remember to be flexible, though. Scheduling failures will happen, re-evaluate your plan periodically to adjust for seasonal and family changes.
So, you spent 24,578 hours researching curriculum. You consulted all the experts, and checked out what your favorite influencers on Instagram are using. You know this is THE BEST curriculum for your family and homeschooling is going to be amazing. That is until it isn’t. What happens when the textbook or course that “everyone” is raving about becomes what you dread every morning as you open your eyes? The truth is that there are no bad curriculum choices, only bad choices for your family. That top rated math program or celebrated history book could be great but if it doesn’t work for you family, it really doesn’t matter. Give yourself grace and be willing to walk away. The frustration from trying to make curriculum work can easily spill into overall overwhelm with homeschooling. Then, the burnout will begin. Instead, be willing to make a change, sell the curriculum or shelve it for later. Either way, look at this as a new possibility and learning experience.
Life happens! Right? So don’t be surprised when life happens in your homeschool. The sink may get clogged or the dog get loose. You could easily fall behind on the laundry or lose power because of a storm. Then there are the unexpected interruptions. Remember, life isn’t perfect and it’s the challenges and surprises that keep it interesting. So, plan on the best-laid plans often going astray. Leave some wiggle room in your planning so you have built-in catch up time and aren’t scrambling at the end or a quarter or end of the year to fit everything in.
Sometimes the moon is full, the sugar levels are high, or kids just are being silly. All of these can make getting through a lesson really difficult. You may begin to question if you have what it takes to homeschool. How can you really make it work if you can’t get Johnny to just finish his math work without you reminding him a million times? Kids will be kids and sometimes they just won’t love doing homeschool work. Other times, there may be growing pains or personal struggles to deal with. Be patient, work it out, and take a deep breath. You can do this, just take a step back instead of going down the rabbit hole of overwhelm and exasperation. That is the surest way to burnout.
Ok, mom, even you are going to have bad days. There are going to be times when you just don’t feel like doing school. There may be times when you feel lonely, or maybe you are tired or sick. That’s okay. Just as with life, challenges will come. Some days, mom just need a day off, too! So, consider taking a snow day, rain day, or even a sun day! Pick an educational movie, pop some popcorn, and veg out with the kids on the couch. Also, realize that homeschool moms need support, you can’t do this alone. Find another homeschool mom to connect with so you can give each other pep talks when needed.
In a high-tech classroom, failure is inevitable. As great as technology is, it is prone to problems. You never really know when the computer will decide to do a 2-hour update or the Internet will go out. Does that mean you shouldn’t use technology to make your school day run more smoothly? No, just plan for things to go wrong. If most of your lessons are online, have a set of off-line activities and books to use when you can’t get online. The key is to be flexible and realize that the minor setback does not have to derail your entire year.
Some other Ways to Prepare to Fail:
- Join a co-op so you don’t have to teach every class and have activities all in one place
- Build a community for social activities, fun, and support
- Have a back up plan for days that don’t go as planned
- Take a step back and make decisions objectively instead of with high emotions
- Realize that no decision has to last forever
- Remember even experienced homeschoolers have failures during the year, the trick is planning to fail before it happens.