When most parents decide that they want to homeschool, they imagine a serene day at home where their kids joyfully play with each other while mom peacefully reads a book out loud while dinner simmers on the stove. While this bliss may be experienced for a moment, it is not typically the experience of most homeschoolers…at least not before putting in a whole lot of work.
See, most of us homeschoolers are first-generation…we’ve never done this or even seen this done before. The majority of us trying to sift our way through the minefield of homeschooling had our butts planted in chairs for a not insignificant portion of our childhoods and now we are literally trying to traverse through the jungles of a whole new idea with only the machete of a vision to help us along the way.
Often times this clash between experience and vision can create a chasm of overwhelm when reality and imagination do not match up. And, sadly, this often results in frustration and explosions in both our children and ourselves.
Thankfully, though, things do not have to remain at a boiling point for very long, if you are willing to do the work necessary to dismantle old expectations and rebuild from the ground up. It will not be easy, but that does not mean it is the wrong path to take, mama.
How to Restore Peace When Homeschooling Feels More Like a War Room than a Class Room
Take a DEEP Breath
When everything seems to be falling apart, it is time to breathe. Slow yourself down and take a few deep breaths before responding or reacting to any of the chaos or emotional tumult happening around you. Remember, you do not have to match the spiral.
Assess the Situation
What is actually causing the problem at hand? Are two children sitting too close together and they need a little distance to restore order? Are you holding onto unrealistic expectations with your child and need to put away the lesson for the day and move on to something else? Is your toddler in need of a nap and you need to pause activities to put them down for a nap before you will peacefully be able to resume lessons with another child? Did everyone just wake up on the wrong side of the bed today and it would be more beneficial to have snuggle time on the couch, read a book together, and forget about the lessons for the day?
Especially when kids are little, it is so important and wise to learn that it is okay to set aside the “curricula” for the day and just live and enjoy each other. Step back and look at the problem and evaluate what practical solutions would help the biggest barrier to calm.
…would be more beneficial to have snuggle time on the couch, read a book together, and forget about the lessons for the day?”
Personalize the Curriculum to Suit YOUR Family
It is far too easy to become slaves to the curricula, but the truth is that you are in control of what you do and do not choose to do in your homeschool. We have many programs that we found did not work for our out-of-the-box thinking children. Trivial quizzes and tests often just created anxiety and stress and did not at all showcase all that my kids were learning, especially for my oldest during high school. So, we dropped them. Instead, we decided to use her greatest gifts and talents (public speaking and art), which meant that each week she presented a visual board of the lesson material and presented the information to me audibly. She learned SO much this way and it was a wonderful opportunity for her to truly show her knowledge of the subjects in a fun and enjoyable way.
Evaluate Emotional Struggles
Many times young children push back on “school work” and just don’t want to do it. This kind of seeming rebellion can be overwhelming to a new homeschooler and trigger feelings of failure. While not uncommon, this behavior can be a great opportunity to invite your child into the conversation to find out what they don’t love about their work and see if there is a way to make it a better fit for them (isn’t that the whole point of homeschooling in the first place?). If the child is too young to explain their emotions, then they’re likely also too young to be expected to “perform” in their schoolwork as well. Lighten their load, take expectations off of the table, and invite your little one into your lap for story time. The bookwork can wait until they’re older.
Give Yourself and Your Children LOTS of Grace
I know that it can feel like the whole world is spiraling down on you when things in the homeschool seem to be spinning out of control, but all is not lost. Kids are amazingly resilient and able to bounce back once their emotions are brought under control. Guess what? So are we. But, often we have never been challenged in this way before! We’ve never raised a little human. We’ve never taught anyone to read, write, use the potty, analyze a poem, write an essay, etc…and every single new experience can leave us feeling raw and exposed.
He who has begun a good work in you will carry it onto completion until the day of Jesus Christ”Philippians 1:6
The devil wants nothing less than to stop you in your tracks and convince you that you are a failure and that your kids would do much better somewhere else, but those are all lies. If God has called you to this; if your Spirit pings your soul to take action and bring or keep your little ones home; if you are convicted of the importance and value of homeschooling – then “He who has begun a good work in you will carry it onto completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Look Up and Trust
Homeschooling is not easy, but whoever said that following after the Lord would be? If they did, they lied. But, living as a “mother on mission” means that we lean into the hard stuff because we know that God has big plans through our struggles and sacrifices in His Name.
Yes, this can be chaotic. Yes, it can and will be messy, but YES, He will equip you to do this one little step, one little breath at a time. Have faith. Shalom.