Monday, April 5, 2010

Homeschooling as a Way of Life

The Country School

I realize that some parents can be driven to burnout while homeschooling. We can get stressed and pushed to the limit in just about anything. What I want to attempt to describe for you is a way to look at homeschooling without pressure.

I started homeschooling in 1990. I loved teaching and schoolbooks. As more children came into the family, I had more students to teach. I did school "year round." But our schooling was more like normal life. I enjoyed seeing the children sitting with a stack of books each morning - winter, summer, spring and fall. This was like having them do chores, or playing in the backyard. It was a normal part of our day. (It also helped keep them out of trouble!)

I never really thought about semesters or "courses," until one of my daughters enrolled in community college. It was so much fun to see her textbooks, choices of classes and a syllabus for each subject. She had a plan, a list of assignments and expectations clearly laid out for her. And all this had to happen in about 15 weeks! Now, to me, that is pressure!!

We have been very laid back over the years. But education has always been extremely important. Yet, it is part of our normal, daily lives. Our schedule often changes based on the needs of the family. But remember, most homeschoolers are different. We have our own techniques, our own quirks, and our own talents. This makes for an exciting culture!

My suggestion to homeschoolers who are feeling burnout is to take a short break and re-evaluate what you are doing. Maybe the curriculum is not a good fit for your family? Maybe the children are not feeling well? Or maybe you just need to add a little fun? On bad days, the best thing to do is just stop! Here are some ideas to help cheer you up and get you back on track:

1. Head outside and let the children run around in the rain.
2. Cuddle up on the couch with a good read-aloud book.
3. Bake cookies.
4. Play monopoly, Scrabble or Boggle.
5. Watch an educational Video while eating popcorn.
6. Take one week to watch the entire series of Little House on the Prairie on DVD!!
7. Let the children do art projects using cardboard boxes.
8. Give the children some scraps of paper, wood, tape, whatever you can find- and tell them to invent something!
9. Make lemonade and cake and serve it on fancy dishes on the "veranda."
10. Take a nature walk.
11. Plant flowers and make rock gardens.
12. Make birdhouses out of scrap wood and paint them.
13. Get some binoculars and see what kinds of birds are singing in your yard.
14. If you have a super-clean house, have the children use a magnifying glass to look for dust! (smiles)
15. Re-arrange furniture in all the rooms in the house.
16. Search for change throughout the house and then go buy ice cream.
17. Have the children write and illustrate simple comic books, using folded over pieces of paper. (You will certainly get a few laughs out of that!)
18. Teach the children manners by having them play "Mother-May-I" in the front yard.
19. Throw leaves in the air just to see where they land.
20. Spend the whole day planning and making a special (but simple) dinner for when Daddy gets home!

Here's a comforting quote I hope you will always remember:

"Studies have shown that all of typical grade K to 8 academic content can be mastered in eighteen to twenty-four months, as can all subjects taught in grades 9 to 12. Every year American School, an Illinois independent-study High School, has several students that complete four years of high school academics in less than eighteen months." - Cafi Cohen, Homeschooling the Teen Years, page 60.

Mrs. White

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*This post was written for The Blog Cruise, as an answer to the question: How Do you handle Homeschool Burnout?*


Tracy said...

Wonderful ideas, Mrs. White! Thanks for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes Truly a Wonderful list and a great reminder for me....

Joyce Ackley said...

What a great list! Many of your ideas are not only fun, but they are educational as well. I see the potential for some wonderul follow-up lessons that would work beautifully with some of your suggestions. For example, after having watched episodes of Little House, your children could re-write a scene, or write a whole new scene or episode and act it out. This would enhance their writing and speaking skills.

The flower bed and rock garden could be drawn to scale on graph paper during the planning stage, thus utilizing math skills.

The child could write a newspaper or magazine advertisement for his "invention," and then even present it as if he/she were doing a tv commercial to launch his new product. This would promote writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills.

As a follow-up activity, the child could research an actual invention and write a report on the inventor and his or her invention.

As a retired school teacher, I still get excited about education and learning! There are so many opportunities in everyday life, as you say. Although formal education can be successfully completed within a prescribed time frame, as Cafi Cohen pointed out, I personally feel that an individual should NEVER stop learning. As a retiree, I am a lifelong learner. I am presently pursuing a writing career, I'm taking an online class, and I am attending a course in Interior Decorating at a local college. I'll always be in a "classroom" of sorts, whether in actual attendance or self-study.

It's a great concept, I think!

Susan said...

In response to Joyce: I think Cafi Cohen's point is that the material covered in an average k-12 education can actually be learned in a very short amount of time...there's no need to spend hour after after hour every day for 13 years doing formal lessons. Other less formal activities are equally valid as learning experiences and serve to add untold value to an education. In other words, as homeschoolers our children have the opportunity to have a more well-rounded education, and that doesn't mean we have to spend even more time hitting the books. The desire here is not to limit educational possibilities, but to think outside the box,.

Homeschoolers sometimes get hung up on checking off boxes to make sure they are covering everything that needs to be covered...and forget to that checking off a box doesn't meant anything has been learned. There's also a tendency to turn every fun thing into a "culminating activity," (no one wants to waste its educational value, right---we simply must make sure they know they are learning something), introducing it with background research and following it up with writing a report. After all, we want to add it to the portfolio. But it squeezes the fun out of it and cheats them out of making connections on their own. I'm guilty of that myself.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

The dust part is hilarious! I live in the desert and dust bunnies multiply in a week!

I didn't know that about a few American School students; that's good to know. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle Gibson said...

lol about #14- the dust. Fun list! =) We recently watched through the Love Comes Softy series with popcorn. :D

Jennifer said...

I love the list! What a great reminder. So often I think the pressure of "what is public school doing" or "what do the reluctant relatives think" can overwhelm the fun to be had in homeschooling.

Carol J. Alexander said...

We think on the same plane :)
Thanks for the list; it was great.

Pamela said...

What a great reminder! Whenever I'm really stressing out, it's always a good idea to re-evaluate. If we've lost the fun, then we really need to step back and find it.
We never lose our dust bunnies though. They're prominently displayed on all of our shelves. ;-)