Sunday, October 12, 2014

Halfway Through Our Homeschool Year! (And Reflections Thereupon)

As of last Friday, we are halfway through our homeschool year. We're finishing up our one-week break now, and next week we'll start one more six-week term before baby arrives. If baby can conveniently arrive four days late, we'll finish the term perfectly!

Having reached our halfway point, I've had some time to reflect on what I've learned this year. Most of it has been quite surprising.

Last year, I was the PERFECT HOMESCHOOL MOMMY. In other words, we did everything. School, crafts, science experiments, fun projects, field trips, park days, academic extras - everything. Every week. Period.

At the time, I didn't realize it, but I had put my self on the high road to homeschool burnout. I was determined to be the perfect homeschool mom if it killed me.

And it nearly killed me.

Ditto with holiday overkill.

I didn't realize how badly I had burned out until summer break came and I found myself increasingly disinclined to start up again. Ever.

You'd think I would have been more careful, because I've seen what burnout looks like - and it's ugly. I don't ever want to go fully into that land. But I was well on my way.

The main lesson learned was that I need to guard myself from following other homeschool moms out of envy, guilt, or anything else. I need to focus on the Lord's will for OUR homeschool and follow that. Otherwise, I'm just going to hit the road to burnout again... and again... and again.

If last year was "The Year of Really Over-Doing It," this year is "The Year of Recovery."

I'm recovering from... homeschool burnout.

I spent a good bit of this year recovering from... morning sickness.

I will spend the last third of the year recovering from... childbirth and having a newborn in the house again.

But the main recovery of this year is definitely the burnout issue.

This year, I have felt extremely disinclined to do any of the extras. Recipes, crafts, science experiments, etc. - all of those have gone from weekly to rare. I simply cannot garner any enthusiasm for them! Part of that may be morning sickness and pregnancy fatigue, of course, but I think that a lot of it is still residual burnout from my perfectionist drive last year.

I'm still praying and thinking about what I need to do to maintain a workable long term solution to avoiding homeschool burnout. I know that I need to scale back. I know that I need to respect my own needs (like my need for a clean house). I know that I need to pray more, and to seek the Lord's will for our homeschool (as mentioned above). But finding that perfect balance between my natural inclination (meaning no crafts again, ever) and the perfect-homeschool-mother bit (all extras all the time! more! more! more!) is going to take some serious time.

Additionally, I have found that this year has not been as much about academics as it was last year. For the most part, second grade has been a continuation of first grade. Aside from changing our math curriculum, there haven't been too many changes. (Next year, when we add grammar and spelling, will be a whole different critter.) And in many ways, I haven't been too worried about academics this year. (Except for our son's handwriting, which is so atrocious that we might as well have him apply to medical school now.)

This year has focused on slightly different areas:

  • Organization
    • I'm learning to keep simpler homeschool records that will be sustainable when we add more students. 
    • I'm re-learning how to plan meals. 
    • I'm working on chore charts. 
    • I'm organizing my cleaning methods. 
  • Behavior
    • We're working on obedience with the 2yo and attitude issues with the 8yo. 
    • We're working on consistent discipline (which is so incredibly hard!).
    • We're tackling the issue of picky eating and table manners. 
    • We're working on family dynamics and on creating a peaceful home.
  • Character
    • We're working big-time on the issue of diligence, primarily through the medium of chores. This has been so much more work than I thought it would be, but I am soldiering through the challenges. If I don't fall over dead before we work through those challenges, I'll post about the whole thing sometime. Don't count on it any time soon. 

From the past two years, I can see one thing very clearly: Every year will carry its own challenges, and each year will be very, very different from each other year. There's no such thing as simply saying, "We homeschool." It's more a matter of, "Our first year was the year that went smoothly. Our second year was when we dealt with sibling bickering. Our third year was when Mama was on bed rest." And etc. As in parenting and family life in general, each year and each season will have its own strengths, its own weaknesses, and its own challenges. 

While that's rather intimidating, I'm very grateful that the Lord is always in control and is working with our family on the areas with which we need help and improvement. I'm praying that we will always be headed in a more mature and godly direction - as opposed to moving backward! (Though that's probably inevitable, at least occasionally!) 

I'm planning on keeping the rest of the year low-key. After baby arrives we will necessarily have to scale back on any unnecessary extras, and the few months following will depend primarily on baby's temperament!

One change I have made recently is to re-think our afternoon reading time (science, history, literature). Over the past few months, I had noticed with some alarm that our 8yo had gone from "Yay! Reading time!" to "Mommy, do we haaaaave to?" After thinking about it, I realized that my selections of reading material had transitioned from "fun stuff" - good-quality fiction and science/history readers - to incredibly boring factual books (i.e. "Let's read all about the culture and socioeconomics of Peru," etc.). I am currently working on bringing our reading time back to books that give us joy rather than books that are deadly dull to both of us. 

I am also in prayer and thought over several issues that must be decided before summer break. These include:
  • Will we start either Spanish or piano for the 8yo next year?
  • Which language arts program will we select for the 8yo? And do we want to do a package curriculum (all language arts subjects included) or separate curricula by subject (i.e. spelling, grammar, etc.)?
  • Will we continue to use the same method for history and science?
  • And finally, how are we ever going to get this child writing more easily?
Lots to think about, lots to pray about, lots to do. 

This hasn't been a thrilling year, so far, but it's been an interesting one - and I've learned many things that will hopefully bless our home in future years. 

I'd love to hear from you, dear friends! Have you dealt with any of the same issues? How did you deal with them?

Have a lovely week, my friends! 

I'll leave you with a picture that demonstrates exactly why it is so difficult to home educate with a toddler in the house!

My husband was laughing hysterically but still managed to grab his phone. This is one of those pictures we'll save to show his future wife! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from you! All kind and thoughtful comments will be published; all inconsiderate or hurtful comments will be deleted quietly without comment. Thanks for visiting!