Anything that we do in life has the opportunity to lead to a place where we can experience complete burnout, and homeschooling is no exception.
Motherhood itself is an all consuming role, and when you throw homeschooling on top of that, you could end up in a place of overwhelm very quickly. Years ago when I found this happening to me I knew that I had to make some changes that would help keep burnout from taking over.
My solution for homeschool burnout has been to switch to year round homeschooling.
I know what you’re probably thinking… I need less homeschooling stress, not more! Honestly, that’s how I felt when I first considered the concept of year round school, and imagined myself exhausted and enslaved to a pile of homeschool curriculum while the rest of the world was enjoying the freedom of summer vacation.
Fortunately, I found out that this is not what year round homeschooling has to look like.
Year Round Doesn’t Mean Nonstop
Homeschooling year round means that you homeschool at unconventional times so you can have more flexibility to take breaks. We do a four day a week school schedule, and take days or weeks off throughout the year. Sometimes that looks like a two week vacation, sometimes I might call a random day off to do a special project or just have a day of rest.
Since we aren’t trying to finish a curriculum before our big summer break from learning, we have the flexibility to enjoy the surprises life brings without feeling like we’re falling behind. The pressure to “stay on track so we finish a book in time” is eliminated, so we have the luxury of moving forward at a leisurely pace and really enjoy the information we’re learning about.
No Delay in Learning
One of the most beautiful parts of year round learning is that by default you are teaching your child that learning is part of life and something that happens at all times of the year. As we encourage our kids to love learning and become lifelong learners, we don’t want to give the impression that learning is some kind of drudgery that we can’t wait to take a long summer break from.
We take breaks from our structured school time more frequently with year round homeschooling, but since the breaks are only a week or two long at most, we don’t have to spend a month remembering everything they forgot over the summer and waste time getting them back up to speed.
A Look at Year Round Homeschooling in Our House
Although we don’t give much attention to grade levels in our house, I do enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from the idea of finishing one school year and beginning another.
Since we do Teaching Textbooks for learning math, we use this as a marker for that “end of a school year” celebration. In the springtime when our yearly subscription is done we take a few weeks off from all of our formal work and focus on enjoying the nice weather, doing projects on the homestead, having some fun outings, and pursuing our own personal interests. A pause in the normal routine can be a good thing for everyone!
During that time I will think back to the year behind and make adjustments for going forward. This includes talking with each child individually to hear their thoughts about things they might change in our homeschool and what it is that they enjoy.
After these few weeks are finished we get back to our homeschool routine. This looks like one family subject explored together daily (usually in the form of a read aloud time and a brief notebooking time after), and the independent subjects of math and language arts. And that’s it.
Why is it that we don’t cram our days full of an exhausting amount of curriculum or table work? It is simply because our learning is spread out over the entire year so I don’t have that sense of urgency to do a lot in a shorter amount of time.
This is the reason that delight directed learning works well for us. The daily homeschool requirements I give to my children are very minimal, leaving hours of time free for them to pursue their interests. My goal is to give them daily practice that will help them grow in proficiency in math, writing and reading; then provide them with time and resources to grow the giftings that God has put in them.
As the school year continues I declare days or weeks off as needed from our required subjects. On birthdays we spend the day celebrating that person with fun things as a family. Over holidays we will pause our math curriculum for a week and focus on family traditions or celebrations. During those times of year where there are focused needs (like planting the garden in the spring or harvesting and canning in the fall) we can again pause on those basic subjects to free up time for the project at hand.
The key to avoiding burnout is slowing down and choosing to enjoy the process of learning and growing along with your children. Your job as a homeschooling mama is to teach your kids how to learn and inspire them to love learning. When you start to feel stressed take a break and remind yourself of that simple focus so you can go forward with a joyful heart.
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