The weeks following winter break are a difficult time for many homeschoolers. Pulling yourself back into a daily routine can seem nearly impossible, especially when the kiddos are reluctant to join you there.
Even relaxed homeschoolers like myself will often find themselves in a sort of funk during this time, meaning minimal active exploration is happening. Unfortunately, this can often spiral out of control and leave the whole family feeling lethargic and wandering without any real aim.
If you feel a post-holiday air of lethargy entering your home, it’s time to take action. The problem is, many homeschool parents have no idea what to do about it. There are, of course, many ways to get back on track. However, I find that the best thing I can do in these situations is to look carefully and rediscover my “why.”
What is Your “Why”?
Let’s start by defining what your “why” is. It’s the reason (or set of reasons) you’re homeschooling. For some, their “why” is the same one they had at the beginning of it all. For others, however, their “why” evolves over the years. Many homeschoolers have the same “why” as all their friends, and some have a unique set of reasons.
Some of the most popular reasons people include in their “why” are:
- Qualms about the current state of the school system
- Opposition to formal schooling
- A child with special needs
- A child who doesn’t fit the “perfect student” mold
- Religious beliefs
- Frequent travel or mid-year moves
- A desire to provide superior educational opportunities
Of course, these aren’t the only reasons out there, and absolutely any reason is perfectly valid.
Why “Why” Matters
So why does finding your “why” matter so much?
Homeschooling is overwhelming, exhausting, and downright difficult at times. Without a compelling reason, you may be left muddling through the days and wondering what you are even doing. This is most often seen in January and February when people are coming out of holiday mode and experiencing cabin fever.
During these times of discouragement, finding your “why” will help you reevaluate your methods, rethink your short-term goals, and ensure that your short-term goals are in line with your end goals. Discovering—or rediscovering—your reasons for homeschooling can reignite your flame and give you the energy to jump back in wholeheartedly.
On the other hand, going back to basics and looking at your “why” could also help you understand that homeschooling is not right for your family during this season. This is something that is best to discover sooner rather than later, so this process is helpful no matter the outcome.
Finding Your “Why”
Wondering how to go about finding your “why”? For me, the best way is to create a list. Seeing my reasoning written out on paper makes it more concrete and helps me own my thoughts.
I start by thinking back to the day I decided to become a homeschooling parent. I remember my reasons then and carefully consider whether any of those reasons fit into my current “why.” For most people, at least some of those original reasons are still valid and should be written down.
Next, I think about our time spent schooling so far and how it has changed my views on education and the world. This tends to bring up several more reasons to add to my list.
Finally, I consider what life would be like if my child did attend a traditional school. I add the cons of this imagined lifestyle to my list of reasons, but I also make a list of the pros of sending him to a brick-and-mortar school, just to put my values to the test. I recommend you do the same.
Now, with your lists made, take a long look at what you’ve written. Does your list of reasons (i.e., your “why”) help you feel passionate about your decision? Does it overshadow the list of benefits offered by a traditional school? Do you find that you feel more focused after making these lists?
If the answer to these questions is “no,” homeschooling may not be the best choice for you at this time, and that’s okay!
If however, the answer to at least one or two of these questions is a “yes,” you are likely already feeling more excited to get this second semester rolling. Use that newfound energy to get things going once again.
Adding in Your Student’s “Why”
Of course, this homeschooling journey isn’t all about you. It’s also about your child, which means it’s important to allow your student to voice his or her own opinions, goals, and wishes. This is your child’s way of adding their little bit of “why” to yours, creating the perfect homeschool “soup,” if you will.
Try asking your child to make their own set of lists. Encourage them to include a list of things they’d like to learn about, things they’d love to accomplish, and things that will make the homeschooling experience even better for them, and then do your best to work those things into your plans.
Giving your child a voice and doing your best to work side-by-side with them rather than hovering over them can help make homeschooling a more enjoyable experience for everyone. It can also give your student a sense of pride in their work and help them cultivate a lifelong love of learning.
With your family’s cumulative “why” still fresh in your head, set some goals for your student(s) and yourself. Make sure your goals mesh with the reasons included in your “why” and change any of your current habits, rules, or rituals that don’t.
For instance, if you’re homeschooling to allow Jimmy to begin college as a teen, focus on what you need to do to make that happen. If you’re homeschooling to give your children the freedom to explore their world at their own pace, you may want to drop the idea of grades.
Remember, homeschooling is all about finding your groove, not about matching up with what those around you are doing. Finding your “why” will help you find your groove, and both your “why” and your groove will be endlessly helpful tools during your homeschooling adventures.