Friday, August 13, 2010

How 2 Avoid HomeSchool Burn-Out

My keeping it in perspective, on-going joke about homeschooling is that if you've homeschooled for more than 2 weeks you've already experienced frustration, joy, exasperation, elation and burn-out. An ever popular question, continually addressed in homeschooling magazines, at support groups and conferences is "How to Avoid HomeSchool Burn-out." Frequently, the solution seems to be to "quit doing school at home," "delight directed education" and "make it fun." I'm all about having fun, allowing the kids delight directed learning but think it's an oxymoron to think of homeschooling as "school at home. ' Burn-out, however, is a real deal. Here's how I've avoided, for the most part, for 2 decades:

First of all, I take homeschooling seriously. I think of it as my work. Work can be a drag at times. I've done enough work outside the home to realize that each and every place of employment has tasks, seasons and customers that are difficult to deal with and problematic. So when I'm experiencing that as a homeschooler I try to keep it in perspective. It's work. It doesn't have to be fun, or care-free, or downright wonderful all the time.

Secondly, I do continual and deliberate on-the-job training. I am a teacher. I am reading and researching about education all.the.time. At the least weekly, sometimes daily. I do this through the books I read (see my side-bar and 52 books a year reviews), checking out Newspaper and Magazine articles, keeping up to speed on homeschool message boards, and writing about homeschooling on my blog (because I find that writing hones my thoughts more than simply thinking or talking about them). I also, occasionally, go to homeschool conferences, most often to speak or vend at them, but I've got a sharp eye out for new and informative ways of doing things while I'm there.

I have a clear educational pedagogy (pedagogy: teaching method; the principles and methods of instruction) that guides and informs my homeschooling choices and investments. I'm pretty married to it, for a number of very good reasons, one of them being that it keeps me from being overwhelmed by all of the new homeschooling bells and whistles that sing their siren song from magazines, the computer and conventions, beckoning me to change course or curriculum and spend beaucoups bucks on something that I don't have time or money for.

I make very good use of all of my homeschool helpers- the DVD player, the computer, the CD player and the kids. These are utilized daily in our home for educational purposes. Last year, we threw out 80% of our homeschool supplies and curriculum after a house fire that burned us out for 9 months. Homeschooling revolved, for the rest of the year, around our unscathed and large CD collection of memory work and audio books. I often assign the kids to read to each other, check each others work, explain a simple lesson, or go through flash cards together.

I am a FindCoolStuff4MyKids2Do Fool; I'm always looking for activities, experiences and opportunities for my kids, as individuals and collectively to participate in that will grow and challenge them. If I want an opportunity that's not available, I'll probably work hard to create it. I'll ask for scholarships or work study or bartering to get things done when it seems out of our price range. My kids have gone abroad and all over the country, participated in politics, field trips of every sort, yearly drama competitions, TeenPact, Tea Parties (both political and gastronomical), event planning, camps, started blogs (Vermillion Road & servingHimblind) and so much more because I follow up on what's available (thought not always obvious). The cool thing is that there's always more to find out about; just this year I discovered Poetry Outloud and the National History Day (watch out, Feche-boy =)!

We talk about the privilege of being together and having the time and resources to homeschool regularly. Its not unusual for you to hear one of my kids thanking God for allowing us to homeschool during our Family Prayers. We are in a unique time and place in history that allows us to homeschool and my kids are old enough to realize it. They know enough of the educational history of oIur country to understand that we have chosen a different path for their education with a different vision from government school, they relish the hours of free time, the privacy, the lack of unhealthy societal influences in their lives. So, they are, most of the time, grateful for being homeschooled. And that makes my job way easier.

I have a clear vision for homeschooling, a well-defined Mission for homeschooling and Yearly Goals for Homeschooling that incorporate physical, social, spiritual, and mental challenges for each student (and teacher). That's a whole different post (maybe book) and something I've written about frequently already. I know why we started homeschooling, and why we keep homeschooling. Honestly, I think it's integral to successful homeschooling

Burn-out is probably inevitable at some point (see my post just days ago: but it doesn't have to be a deal breaker. In fact, it can be seen as a time to re-evaluate. Perhaps it's time to step back and reassess your curriclum, read a book on teaching, listen to more CD's, look at ones Vision. Realize that homeschooling is work, but it can be work that is rewarding and satisfying on a level that you won't find anywhere else.

1 comment:

Harvest Moon by Hand said...

Excellent reminders about how to avoid burnout which can be all-too-common when homeschooling. Your suggestions for avoiding burnout are very good!