6 Vital Questions to Ask When You’re Feeling Stressed About Homeschooling

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We all have those moments of stress. Sometimes it’s something as ordinary as trying to get everyone out the door on time for an event. Other times, it’s the near-panic attack of worrying that you missed something vital in your student’s education.

Some stress is normal, but no one wants to feel like that all the time – or even in that moment. The next time you’re feeling stressed, ask yourself these important questions. Hopefully, the answers will help you get a handle on homeschool-related stress.

1. Is it really that important in the grand scheme of things?

Often, the quickest way to alleviate stress is to put the situation into perspective. Consider how important your current stressor is in the grand scheme of things. Your 12-year-old still struggling to read? Yeah, that’s genuinely stressful. Your three-year-old is insisting on wearing leopard print pants with a rainbow striped shirt to co-op? Not so much.

(That’s a true story except it was music class, not co-op, and the photo I took has become one of my all-time favorites. That kid always has had her own sense of style.)

Don’t stress over a lesson or two not getting completed this week. It’s not going anywhere. Even some of those things we think are a big deal often aren’t. I stressed that my oldest never was going to get the hang of long division. We wound up putting the math books on the shelf until after summer break that year. When we came back, all of a sudden it just clicked with her.

Sometimes kids just aren’t developmentally ready for a skill or concept. Other times, the lessons just need to percolate in their minds a bit. Over the years, I’ve been quit being surprised by the fact that sometimes the quickest way for a kid to learn something is to put it aside for awhile.

2. What can I do about it?

Sometimes, your current stressor really is something to worry about. When that’s the case, you can often ease the stress by coming up with a plan.

When Josh was still struggling to read at age 12, and I was fairly sure he had dyslexia, it was such a relief to discover Lexercise. He was tested and began therapy. The results were phenomenal.

When Brianna was struggling with math, and I wasn’t sure how to help, I enlisted the help of a friend who teaches math in public high school. They met once a week for tutoring until Brianna was back on track.

If some aspect of your child’s education is stressing you and it’s a legitimate concern, take an honest look at what you can do to rectify the situation. Do you need to hire a tutor? Maybe it’s time to change curriculum.

A friend had a student who didn’t score well on the math portion of her college entrance exam. Instead of stressing, they made a plan for shoring up math (one-on-one time with Dad) and worked at it. She took the exam again and did great.

Even if you do discover that you’ve overlooked something essential that your student needs to know, there are plenty of options such as tutoring, dual-enrollment, make-up time during school breaks, or one-on-one focused instruction.

3. Have I over-scheduled?

One of the biggest stressors for homeschooling moms is a packed schedule. I say that it took me years to learn the benefits of a 4-day school week, but looking back I realize I had an inkling early on. When Josh and Megan were both in music class, we didn’t try to get our regular schoolwork completed on music class day.

Instead, we went to class, had lunch as a family or with friends (Socialization 101), and did nature study at a nearby park. While she waited on her siblings, Brianna hung out with the other older kids who were along for the ride. It was at music class where she learned to knit from a friend. I can’t knit, but it’s become a favorite hobby of Brianna’s.

Sometimes amazing things happen when you build a little white space in your calendar. You don’t need to fill every second with something. If you’ve over-scheduled to the point of stress, consider what could be eliminated or scaled back.

4. Do we need a break?

Sometimes you just need a break. Other than building a make-up day into each week, one of the best things I ever did for my overall stress level was going to a year-round homeschool schedule. There are lots of ways to handle a year-round homeschool schedule, but we choose to do 6 weeks of school followed by a week off. (If you’d like to read about the benefits of year-round homeschooling and find some free printable calendars to help with your planning, read The Benefits of Year-Round Homeschooling.)

Starting a new unit every six weeks and knowing that we had a break week within site at any time did wonders for our attitudes and sense of motivation. Even if a year round schedule doesn’t work for you, a few long weekends peppered into your homeschool calendar can be vital stress-relievers.

I usually go to bed on Sunday night thinking that I need at least one more day in my weekend to accomplish everything on my endless to-do list. A long weekend can provide that extra time and a much-needed opportunity to rest and regroup.

5. What is my physical environment like?

I find clutter extremely stressful. If I’ve let the house or school clutter get out of hand, I have a hard time concentrating. That’s when that long weekend can come in handy. Get everyone to pitch in and help straighten up. (Unless, like me, you find cleaning and organizing therapeutic, in which case feel free to work alone.)

If you can’t afford to take a long weekend, institute a life skills day. Not only is a life skills day a sanity-saver, but it teaches kids valuable skills like cooperation and household management.

6. What is going on in our lives?

Sometimes stress is caused by things going on in our lives over which we have little or no control. Life events such as a birth, death, move, divorce, or new job are undeniable stressors on a family and its homeschool.

Guilty thoughts may arise when you consider the fact that if your kids were in public school, most of these events would not completely disrupt their education. While that may be true in some cases, your kids aren’t in public school. Sometimes you just need to cut yourself some slack and take some time off. You may be surprised at how much your kids learn naturally by walking with you through life events.

You might try some homeschool sick day ideas, such as listening to audio books or watching documentaries. Those are ideal for low-key learning and helpful for keeping everyone occupied and on a predictable routine. You’ll find more ideas by reading How to Homeschool When Mom Is Sick.

Don’t stress if even that doesn’t happen, though. What you’re going through won’t last forever. The flexibility of homeschooling allows you to get back on track when everyone is mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to pick up where you left off.

What questions do you ask yourself to put things into perspective when you’re feeling stressed about homeschooling?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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