Recover from Homeschool Parent Burnout
Homeschooling is not always easy. If you’re struggling, you are not alone! For most of us, homeschooling is added onto other responsibilities in the home, as well as making time for family and friends, and maybe even a part-time or full-time job. Because it concerns the education and potential future of your child, homeschooling is also incredibly important, so you may be putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Parent burnout is real. As a homeschooler who also works full-time, I get it. We all get it, but you don’t have to give up and quit homeschooling. Try some of the following ideas to reclaim joy and engagement in your homeschool.
1. Stop Procrastinating on Yourself
Sometimes we are so worried about student burnout that we forget to take care of ourselves. Some methods for preventing homeschool burnout can work for both parents and children, so be sure to check out this homeschool burnout prevention checklist, but you may simply need to do a little self-care, too. Consider getting your thoughts and concerns out by keeping your own homeschool journal. Make sure you are rewarding yourself for accomplishments throughout the school year by treating yourself to a spa day or making time for a hobby or something else you enjoy after each quarter, month, or even week. Schedule days of rest or see if mindfulness or other stress reduction techniques can help you stay in the present and enjoy the homeschooling experience. What works for me is a daily morning routine of stretches and exercises and a walk with the dogs some time during the day (when we both need a break). Find what works for you!
2. Reflect on Your Homeschooling
Once you’ve gotten yourself into a better state of mind, you may want to stop and do some reflection. Parental burnout may be a sign that it is time for you to step back and examine your homeschool. Start with why you are homeschooling. Does your current routine or schedule still satisfy the reason for homeschooling? What is going well? What could be better? Take some time to evaluate your child’s learning and ask for feedback. What does your child like about homeschooling? When does your child feel frustrated or anxious? What does your child wish could happen in your homeschool? Have those important discussions about what to keep and what may need to change. Then think about your own parental burnout. When does burnout happen for you? Are there certain subject areas or homeschooling requirements that cause you more stress? What else is happening in your life when you are feeling additional stress?
3. Reset Your Goals
As a result of your reflection, you may decide that you need to reset your goals. After thinking about your reason for homeschooling, consider whether your homeschooling goals for the family need to change, or perhaps you need to adjust what you are doing on a daily basis to meet the goals you have. What are your personal goals related to homeschooling? Are they realistic and achievable, or are they the cause of parental burnout? As a new homeschooler, I remember creating an image of a perfect homeschool that solved all things educational for my child. Worse, we may even try to compare our homeschools with those of other families we know or read about on the Internet. Trying to reach such utopian standards can be exhausting! As you revise your parent or overall family homeschooling goals, you also need to examine the specific goals for each child you are homeschooling. Make sure you are setting practical SMART goals that you can work toward, assess, and then celebrate when they are accomplished. Goal setting can help to increase engagement and prevent burnout for both you and your child!
4. Lean on the Homeschool Community
With a now positive outlook and new or confirmed goals, you may just need some ideas. This is a great time to lean on the homeschool community for advice and suggestions. Explore the blogs and parent resources available on homeschooling organization websites, including member forums and discussion boards. Check on social media and reach out to local networks for homeschool support groups and helpful homeschool associations. You will find advice on meeting state homeschool laws, curriculum, recordkeeping portfolios, suggestions for socializing your homeschooler, and much more. Homeschoolers are a remarkably generous group, and there are many resources out there to help you with your journey.
5. Involve Other Family Members and Friends
They say that it takes a village to raise a child. Why, then, do we think that we need to homeschool alone? Involving individuals of your choosing in the education of your child will not only expand your child’s access to information beyond what you know or what’s in the curriculum, but will also provide opportunities for socialization and exposure to different perspectives. Start by involving family members. In our homeschool, my daughter sometimes does history field trips with her grandparents, art projects with a different grandmother, home economics lessons with another family member, STEM or music lessons with her father, and science labs or digital art with her brother. Don’t be afraid, too, to look beyond the family and involve other homeschoolers through co-ops or enroll your child in outside classes virtually or through local museums and other organizations. Finally, remember that your child can also learn independently through project-based learning. All these methods can increase their engagement while giving you back time to do what you need to do or just relax, knowing that your child is still receiving a quality education.
6. Consider Schedule or Curriculum Changes
In some cases, parent burnout is a symptom of the need for more substantial changes. One major question to ask is, how frequent are those “bad homeschooling days”? If you are finding that you are having more bad days than good or that you or your child are getting increasingly frustrated or overwhelmed, you may need to do something major—like changing your schedule or switching your curriculum. If, for example, you are trying to squeeze your homeschool hours and work or other obligations into typical school hours, you may want to spread out the learning with some after-dinner activities or even short periods of instruction on the weekends. Perhaps year-round homeschooling makes sense to extend the learning with less time per day. Maybe the curriculum you are using does not fit your child, and you need something more flexible that you can individualize. There are many changes you can make to help prevent both parent burnout and student burnout. Still not sure what to do? Check out how this family reorganized their homeschool to get back on track!