Homeschooling 101 – Can You Really Burnout?

Thinking of homeschooling your child? Have you already decided to assume responsibility for educating your children? You may not be aware, but burnout can be a common problem with home-schoolers. Your child may suffer burnout, but you also are liable to suffer some degree of burnout. Many causes can be found that contribute to this burnout, and the good news is, it can be easily addressed.

Cause of burnout may be as simple as illness, changing family dynamics like a new child, changing work requirements for the parents or modest changes in household schedule. The actual signs and symptoms associated with burnout can manifest as loss of patience, over-indulging, boredom, emotional bouts with no obvious explanations, anger or complacency. Interestingly, a burnout doesn’t have to be such a negative event. In fact, what better life experience for your child than to learn how to deal with it from a young age. After all, we all have had experiences with burnout in our jobs.

If this happens to you or your child, it can serve as a wake-up call; an indicator that the situation may need adjustments. Perhaps you just need time to step back and reassess both short and long term goals. Maybe this is an opportunity to communicate and problem solve with your child. Preventing or even avoiding a burnout can be done once you have observed the early warning signs.

First, check your expectations, and make sure you are not asking too much of yourself or your child. Avoid being the perfectionist. Accept the good days, and make room for the not so good days. When things do not appear to be working, search for alternative solutions. Flexibility is one of best tools in catching burnout early, or avoiding it altogether. A child’s interest in learning will ebb and flow, over days weeks and months. Allow yourself to relax schedules and objectives, allow for unproductive or down times, and that will go a long way toward alleviating burnout and enhancing the learning experience.

For more than 100 year perhaps, public schools have had roughly the same schedule; 5 days a week, 9 months a year. By necessity, teachers spread the curriculum out over that period and keep up their marching orders toward certain objectives within certain deadlines, heedless rhythm of the 30 or so children in the class. This process is designed to satisfy the needs of the teachers and administrators, but is not tailored to meet each individual child’s needs. There is a process in learning; receiving information, then assimilating what has been learned. You will find your child’s appetite for learning voracious at times, and other times they just need to take time off.

Parents often have a tendency to push a home schooled child rather hard. Perhaps we compare our homeschooling with the 8:30AM to 3:30PM rigors of public school, and assume that is how they are supposed to do it. In question many homeschooling families, parents report that their child learns more and tends to progress faster than their child’s counterpart in a public school setting. So relax about schedule. Do not go overboard. Help your child to have signal for stopping time when they have had enough. Trust that they will want to learn, because they do!

Take breaks in the routine if tension starts to increase. Consider a change in your style of educating. As an example, children like to carry out their spelling practice if a game is made of quizzing them by and with an adult. Or why not cook a pizza, and learn fractions by slicing the pizza into halves, quarters, eighths, etc.

Avoid driving your child too hard. Be careful of overreaching goals in activities for socializing your child. A grouchy mom or dad may lead to a grouchy kid. The result is unhappiness for everyone. Remember to allow your son or daughter to voice their likes and dislikes. Check in with them; see how your child feels about homeschooling. Bring them in on the decision making. The final decisions reside with you, but the child feels valued and involved when they can offer their perspective. Ask them if there is something they would like to add to their learning, or activities they would like to do.

Allow your son or daughter to choose the subject from time to time. For example, your child wants to learn about the stars. Teach them the basics about the types of stars, planets and constellations. Talk with them about what peoples in history used to think about the heavenly objects. Then take them to a museum, planetarium or to the library. Provide them with resources, and then let your child go about figure out how to find out more on their own. Remember, give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Let your child have a say in their own education.

Remember to ask for support from your spouse. Communication within the family is all important. If you are the primary mentor-parent, ask for time off and have your spouse take over one day a week. Find neighbors who are home schooling, and locate other home schooling support group. Don’t attempt to accomplish everything by yourself. There are just too many resources out there. Remember, your job is to be a mentor for your child, not the know-it-all professional teacher. Learn how to provide the resources for your child to educate themselves, provide little motivations here and there, and help them to pursue what inspire them. Keep in mind that home schooling should also mean “happy schooling”.