Recovery Checklist for Homeschool Burnout
Burnout is a reality in everyday life. Employers, employees, athletes, and people from all walks of life experience burnout for different reasons. Homeschooling parents, and especially their children, also experience it during the homeschool year.
Burnout is defined as a “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” It can happen at any moment during the year, but usually occurs when something (or a few things) interrupt the flow of your homeschooling day. This interruption or impediment drains your child’s motivation.
Ellen, a homeschooling mom of two children, noticed that her 12-year-old son seemed to “hit a wall” last year during the holidays. “He just lost his spark for learning. It came as a complete surprise to me because things seemed fine, she says. “I let him take a little time off and spoke with him about how he was feeling. It turned out that he was bored with our everyday routine. He wanted more variations during the week. But I fell into a comfortable mode and it impacted his learning.”
The Homeschool Burnout Checklist
There are many reasons why homeschool burnout occurs. What causes it for you and your child may not be the same for another family. That’s why we created this “ultimate checklist.” It covers the many ways homeschool burnout may occur and how you and your children can overcome it.
- Break from the routine. You don’t have to follow a strict routine that rarely changes. Let your children sleep in a few days a week or simply change up your schedule. If you don’t follow a routine at all maybe you would find a more structured day to be beneficial in your homeschool.
- Reinvent your classroom. Who says you have to keep the classroom the same for the whole year? Use holidays like Veterans Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Christmas as decorating ideas for your classroom. You may even consider using nature as your classroom by heading to the park every now and then.
- Change your teaching style. If you’re usually the one doing all the talking, why not try a different approach that allows your children to interact more and give them an opportunity to share what they know. This will help you gauge how they are doing and allow them to take the lead and practice their speaking skills.
- Declutter. A messy learning space usually causes unwanted stress. Keeping things neatly arranged allows your children to easily locate their learning materials and be more efficient. If you have older books and other homeschooling materials that you no longer need, sell them or give them away to other homeschoolers.
- Identify stress factors. If your child becomes stressed about their math lessons or reading, talk with them about it. Identify the areas that are causing stress, and then find solutions that will help them overcome their issues, such as a tutor or a different homeschool program. Once the issue is resolved, your child will become more confident and prepared when taking on future challenges.
- Don’t be so serious. Sometimes, as parents and teachers, you find a comfort zone and stick with it. Unfortunately, that comfort zone tend to become monotonous. Inject some fun into your homeschool day with things your family enjoys like music time, picnics, field trips, arts and crafts, board games, etc.
- Ease the pace. Homeschooling parents sometimes suffer from what’s been described as the “superhero” complex. They try so hard and, as a result, they push their children beyond their limits. Homeschooling is not a race. Let your children learn at their own pace. If that means going slower, then so be it.
- Exchange ideas with other homeschoolers. There are millions of homeschoolers all around the country. The chances of finding people who share your values and homeschooling goals are very high. Take advantage of their experience and wisdom. A quick Google search should put you into contact with homeschooling groups and co-ops you can join.
- Let your child take over for a while. Depending on your child’s age and maturity, allowing them the freedom to make key decisions helps them grow and learn responsibility. They may have ideas of their own, especially about what they want to study and learn about.
- Keep motivation high. Without it, they’ll soon become distracted, bored, and uninterested in what you’re teaching. There are many ways you can motivate your child: rewards, free time, virtual field trips. Kids also find motivation when given choices, achievable goals, and positive reinforcement.
- Sleep. Make getting enough sleep every night a priority, just like you do homeschooling and doctor’s appointments. You’ll find that you accomplish more when you feel well rested than when you are struggling to get back your energy.
- Carpe Diem. Although sticking to a schedule may work best for many of you, it’s also important to seize the day. If you’re given the opportunity to do something new, go for it. This will give your family the chance to do something different and change up your routine.
- Create a gratitude/happiness journal. This will help remind you about all the good things in your life. Even if you’ve been homeschooling for a short time, taking note of all the positives that you’ve already experienced can be a source of encouragement.
- Say NO. Whether it is to others or to yourself, it’s important to know your limits so you don’t burn out. Even though we’d like to think we can, we simply cannot do it all, and learning to say NO can create healthy boundaries in your life.
As a parent, avoiding burnout is a challenging task, especially since it sometimes hits you and your children simultaneously. It happens for various reasons, but as we discussed, a lack of motivation is one of the major culprits. Thankfully, homeschooling gives you the flexibility to try new and exciting teaching methods, change up your schedule, and take a break if needed. So, give these tips a try. They may make your homeschooling experience more pleasant and inspiring.