Let’s Make Learning Fun!

Photo by Jeremy Alford on Unsplash

Make Learning Fun with We Love to Learn Stations

As parents, we’re sailing in uncharted waters right now, with the social distancing, stay at home requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many parents are teaching their children academics at home for the first time. All parents are likely getting complaints from their children that they want to play with friends or go do something they aren’t allowed to do because of social distancing. I’m hearing parents say they’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Whether you’re a homeschool family or an emergency distance learning family, having some fresh ideas for making learning fun can help change your children’s attitudes about being stuck at home!

The first idea I want to share will help your children enjoy learning more with the “We Love to Learn Stations”.

We Love to Learn Stations

In the dead of winter here in Minnesota, we often have to stay at home because of the weather, our days get long, and kids can become bored. That’s why I typically added a learning station’s day on Fridays to give us all a change of pace.

 This pandemic with the stay at home requirement is the perfect time for you all to try a Learning station day! It only takes a little time to prepare for it, and your kids will LOVE it!  Basically, you’ll set up learning stations throughout your house, and your children will rotate to the various learning stations doing whatever you’ve set up there. (Teams of two work great, but if you don’t have enough children for teams, you’ll need to participate or set up stations that can be done by one child at a time.) You can even use some of the learning resources that you already have, either from your school teacher or your curriculum.

All you need to do is prepare your learning stations, usually the night before. Then start your We Love To Learn Stations Day with explaining the different stations to your children. Set the timer and begin!  (Approximately 15-20 minutes per station)

Prepare the Learning Stations

1. Language arts station (you can have more than one language arts station if you wish or just choose one of these)

  • Phonics game for the pre-readers or early readers (Memory, Go Fish, puzzles or see options in my recommended page.)
  • Grammar game using Mad Libs
  • Write a short creative story alone or with your partner using some story starter ideas if needed. (share your story with family afterward)
  • Audio books with audible.com for listening comprehension (free books available to children during the pandemic!)
  • Spelling game – Make your own using a manila folder! Game instructions.
https://youtu.be/oz9YsJGUrZ8
Make your own basketball spelling game!

2. Reading station

  • Have a basket with library books or topical encyclopedias (Usborne has some great ones) and at this station, they read or look at pictures for 15-20 minutes.
  • Or you can have your child read from the book they’ve been reading already.

3. Math station

  • Play math games together (see my recommended page for ideas on games) – you can use regular board games or dice.
  • If your child likes speed games, do a few speed math worksheets where they time themselves and see how many they can get done in 10 minutes. They can do this twice and see if they can beat their first try. Drill worksheets available HERE.

4. Science station

5. Geography or History station

  • Have a globe or map out. Give your children each a list of places that they need to find on the map and write the longitude and latitude.   Or have separate maps for each child and they can mark the places you’ve listed.
  • Play “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”?   This is a fun game that teaches geography, world cultures and history for children ages 8-12!
  • Set up a project for your children to work on related to the time period they’re studying in history. (e.g. build a teepee if studying American Indians)

6. Music

  • Set up a CD player or have a link ready for your child to listen to a piece of classical music and provide a link or print up a short biography about the composer for them to read while they listen.
  • Set out musical instruments for your children to play with (if you have older children, they could practice their music lesson for this station).
  • Provide resources for your child to make a drum or a guitar using a box, etc.

7. Art

  • Set up an art project for the children to work on.
  • Have pictures of various artist’s work with information about each piece.
  • Set up paints with information about how to mix primary colors to make secondary colors and let them have fun mixing and painting. Here’s a video to help you teach these concepts!

8. Bible

  • Choose a memory verse for all the children to learn and post it on the wall. Have them say it together three times and then write it on a note card. Then have them use one of the following games to practice:
  •  Write each word of the verse on a separate index card and mix the cards up – have your child unscramble the words to make the verse. (Include the verse address on a card, i.e. ‘Galatians 5:22-23’.)
  • Use a dry erase board and write out the verse. Read the verse through together a few times, then erase one word. Read the verse again saying the right word for the erased word. Take turns erasing words, saying the right words for each erased word as you recite the verse. Eventually you should have nothing on the board and be saying the verse from memory.
  • Play Sword Drill with SALVATION verses. (For children who can read well and know their Bible a bit.  You’ll need to help with this one) Using the list below, have each child hold a closed Bible above his or her head. Dad or Mom calls out the first reference twice and then says, “Swords ready…Go!” and the children try to be the first one to find and read the verse out loud. (If you have an only child, make the clock the thing to beat.) You may challenge your children to figure out what the common theme of all the verses is. You may also give a prize to the winner, if you wish, but everyone gets the benefit of knowing his or her way around the Bible better and of hearing God’s Word. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17.
  • Key Word: Salvation
  • Exodus 15:2
  • I Samuel 2:1
  • Psalm 27:1
  • Luke 2:30
  • Acts 4:12
  • Romans 1:16
  • Ephesians 1:13
  • Ephesians 6:17
  • Psalm 18:2
  • Isaiah 12:2

*These memory games and the Bible game were taken from Growing the Fruit of the Spirit, a wonderful family Bible study guide for children of all ages, available on my store page or on Amazon.

Growing the Fruit of the Spirit A family Bible study guide for children of all ages.

8. Create your own station to help your children learn about something they are currently studying in their school lessons!

I hope you enjoy having your We Love to Learn Station Days!  Please comment below with your ideas or let me know how it goes if you give it a try!

Finding Joy in Your Homeschool Journey

The holidays are done, and the new year stretches before us. It’s time to begin a new semester of school…and I’m guessing that some of you may not be feeling very excited about getting back into a school schedule again.

Maybe you feel a bit overwhelmed with the idea of a whole new semester ahead of you. Or there was a difficult subject that you’re not looking forward to teaching again.  Maybe it’s just that the daily school routine has become boring and you need some changes to happen.

Sometimes homeschooling can feel like a lot of work, right? I remember only too well. Other families are sending their kids off on the bus and you’re teaching your kids again AT HOME. And YOU are responsible for what they learn. It can feel like a heavy burden at times, even though it’s what we’ve chosen, right?

So how do you find joy and motivation when you really just want to go back to bed, or go read a good book, or go hang out with a friend instead of doing the “school thing”?

If this is you, let me give you some ideas for how to find JOY IN YOUR HOMESCHOOL JOURNEY AGAIN!

  1. PRAY AND SEEK THE LORD each day! Rest in Him…

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this homeschool thing! God is with you and wants to help you and give you wisdom for every day and every situation as you teach your children. As you begin each day, spend time with God, seeking His strength and asking Him to give you a thankful and joyful attitude.  Many times, when I’m feeling discouraged or unmotivated, I really just need the Lord to help me change my attitude so it’s in line with His will in my life. He can help you get motivated and find joy in each day. He can help you look for things to be thankful for as you go through each day. I remember one year when I was feeling down and discouraged, not really looking forward to each homeschool day. I sought the Lord’s help and He reminded me of the many blessings I had and helped me to look for things to be thankful for each day. He also helped me see that I needed to take better care of myself…more on that shortly.

Remember that your attitude will rub off on your children! If you’re excited about a new day, looking forward to all God is going to teach you, your children will be too! A joyful attitude is infectious!

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

 

 

  1. REMEMBER IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS!

 

We often get so focused on academics and making sure we’re getting everything accomplished that we forget that one of the most important things about homeschooling is that we’re building relationships:

  • Our children’s relationship with God
  • Our relationship with our children
  • Our children’s relationships with each other
  • Outside relationships with others

Ask the Lord to help you make relationships a priority this semester.

  • Focus on helping your children grow in their faith and in godly character. Check out my blog post on ideas for building your child’s faith: Resources and Ideas for Building Your Child’s Faith. I also have several posts on godly character – just put that phrase in the search box and you’ll find them!
  • Focus on spending quality time enjoying being with your children, playing a game, reading to them, or just snuggling.
  • Focus on helping your children love one another, helping them to develop a deep friendship with their siblings.

You’ll be surprised at what this change of focus will do for your family and your homeschool days!

 

  1. TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO RE-EVALUATE

 

  • Are you possibly struggling with burnout? Do you give so much of yourself that you’re not taking time for yourself and your needs? Homeschool burnout is very real! You need to take care of yourself, get proper rest and exercise and eat well plus allow yourself to enjoy the things you like to do sometimes in order to avoid burning out. That same year when I was so down and discouraged, I realized that I needed to get more regular exercise and so we joined a gym as a family and I found that getting regular exercise was good for me and also for our children! Check out this blog post: “Encouragement for the Burned-out Homeschool Mom” 

 

  • Do you need to consider a change of curriculum? Are you finding you dread a certain subject? Or have you noticed your children seem to complain about doing some subjects? Maybe it’s time for a change of curriculum. Check out cathyduffyreviews.com for new ideas on curriculum and read this post on Choosing Curriculum.
  • Focus on developing a love for learning using delight-directed studies and adding some fun ideas and games into your school day. One year I was just so tired of the “same old, same old” everyday, and so I purchased the book “Ignite the Fire” by Terri Camp. It was so helpful to get me out of the rut we were in! One idea she had was to have the kids each make their own mailbox (decorated shoe box!) and then write letters to each other (creative writing).  The kids loved it!  She has many wonderful ideas to help your children love to learn!

Also check out these blog posts on delight-directed learning, teaching tips and using games to help make learning more fun:

 

 

  • Download my free “Homeschool Evaluation and Goal Setting PDF” available on the sidebar to help you assess any changes you may wish to make for this second semester.

 

 

  1. BRAINSTORM with your spouse or other homeschool friends on ideas to make this semester better for you and your children…

    so school is something you DO look forward to! I also do homeschool consulting and would love to meet with you to help you think through how you can bring more joy into your homeschool days if this is a struggle for you. For the month of January 2019, I’m offering a 15% discount for consultations as well!

 

  1. RELAX AND ENJOY LEARNING WITH YOUR CHILDREN!

So much learning can happen without textbooks. Allow yourself to relax a bit, to allow some learning to happen naturally as your children ask questions about life and things that happen in their world. That’s called Discovery Learning – and because it’s something they’re interested in, they will be much more attentive as you research together about the topic of interest. Discovery learning provides some of the best learning and often the information you learn through these types of teaching times will be retained better than when you use some fancy lesson plan!

 

  1. EXTEND GRACE…

    to yourself and your children as you get back into the routine of school after a holiday break. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes you a week or more to get back into a regular routine with school and life.  REST in the LORD on a daily, moment by moment basis as you teach and have a blessed school year!

Please comment below if you have other ideas that have helped you find joy in your homeschool journey… I’d love to hear your ideas!

*Photo credit  Kelli Tungay on Unsplash

Fun Games to Teach and Strengthen Math Skills

I love springtime and the culmination of another school year. It’s one of my favorite times of the year! It’s a time of finishing curriculum, feeling a sense of accomplishment plus anticipation for a fun summer ahead!

Unfortunately, along with the fun of summer activities and relaxation comes the possibility of losing some of the hard-earned knowledge that our kids have studied so hard to obtain over the last school year. What can we do to help them retain what they’ve learned without having them frustrated that they aren’t getting a break from school work?

We can PLAY GAMES with them!

There are so many educational games that are a lot of fun and your child won’t even realize that they’re technically doing math or language arts, or whatever skill the game is helping them learn. Games are great for strengthening skills and knowledge of various subjects.  In fact, you shouldn’t save games for just the summer months, they’re a great way to teach and reinforce skills for any time of the year!

Games have many benefits beyond just teaching and reinforcing skills. They strengthen focus and memory skills, build motor skills for younger children, build socialization skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, and they also help with cognitive growth.

They improve executive functioning skills giving children the ability to accomplish tasks.

Games offer the opportunity to build character, helping children learn self-control and good sportsmanship as well as giving them the opportunity to learn to cooperate with others.

Games help build close relationships within the family, which is one of my favorite benefits! I love seeing kids play games together – you can almost see the wheels turning in their brains as they contemplate their next move. It’s a great way for kids to bond with their siblings!

Math tends to be a subject that requires continual reinforcement of skills in order to retain what was learned.

It’s frustrating to have to review a whole month in the fall just to get your kids back to where they were in their math knowledge at the end of the previous school year. But if you play math games with your kids all through the summer, they likely will retain much more of what was learned, and it will give you something fun to do on a summer day as well.

With the help of some Facebook friends (thank you to those who contributed!), I’ve compiled a list of great math games to help build and reinforce math skills for your kids over the summer. The games listed have been tried by me or another homeschool mom who recommended them, and they are “favorites”! (This list may contain some affiliate links)

Math Games

Early Math Skill Games:

  • Candyland  This classicis fors  for ages 3-6 and helps teach colors as well as building fine motor skills for little ones. It’s a great introduction to games!
  • Chutes & Ladders  Another classic game for preschoolers up to age 7 that helps children learn to play games while building basic counting skills. 
  • Snakes & Ladders  Another classic game for kids that helps reinforce counting and numbers learning. For ages 6+. this version is magnetic so it’s great for on the go learning! 
  • Hungry Hungry Hippos  Another great preschool to early elementary age game that’s wild and crazy but helps kids learn to count!

Elementary math skills:

Math Marks the Spot:  for ages 5+ to teach number recognition, colors, adding and subtraction

  • Snap-it Up Math  In this fast-paced game, players pick and pass numbers as fast as they can, using adding and subtracting as they do. Great for ages 6+.
  • Sum Swamp Addition & Subtraction  Imagine hiking through a swampy path using math skills such as adding and subtracting to find your way! Great for ages 5+.
  • Roll-a-dollar (money game)  Using die with coin amounts on them you shake and try to earn a dollar!   Player shakes 4 dice at a time, and they get 2 rolls per turn –  if  they don’t reach a dollar, no points earned. One point for every time you reach a dollar on a turn. 20 points wins! You can also use the die to match what’s on the die with actual money to learn money value. 
  • Dino Math Tracks If you have a child that loves dinosaurs, this game is for you! It teaches place value, counting, addition, and subtraction for children ages 6+.
  • Smath  Playing crossword with numbers for ages 6+.  Great for learning addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. 
  • Uno  Earn points from others players when you go out first. Teaches matching, colors, numbers and strategy for ages 7+.
  • Skip-O  One of my all-time favorites because I played it with my grandma, teaches number order and strategy, for ages 7+.
  • NMBR9 (ages 8+ – strengthens adding, multiplication skills, plus critical thinking skills & spatial recognition)          

 

 

  • Math War (deck of cards without face cards, each layer turns over 2 cards, adds them together, whoever has highest points gets all the cards for that round)

 

  • Dominoes (child makes up problems as they put the dominoes together) Double Six Professional Dominoes - White with Black Dots, Case Color May Very
  • Right Start Math – A math curriculum for the hands on learner that has a wide variety of games

 

 

 

  • Dragonwood a game with dice for ages 8+ a fun way to practice basic math skills

 

  • Sushi-go  A fun game for 8+-year-olds that reinforces probability, strategic thinking, and visual discrimination

Act Your Wage (Dave Ramsey) – a great way to teach your kids money management and budgeting for ages 10+.

Online Math games:

There are more great math games out there, and you can make your own math games too! I’ll keep a list on my resource page of these games and add to it as I find new games to suggest!

Use games this summer to help reinforce math concepts learned and have a great summer!

 

 

 

 

 

10 Tips for Getting Through the Busy Spring Season

As the homeschool year winds down and summer approaches, there’s a sense of relief because another school year is almost done, right?  It feels so good to anticipate a time of rest and summer fun.

But it seems that in the spring, many moms also feel anxious and overwhelmed with all there is to do and all they need to make decisions on for the summer and the next school year.

We need to decide what activities to have our kids in for the summer and the next school year.  Then there are co-op decisions to be made.  And of course, the never-ending curriculum decisions.

Trying to finish off the school year, making sure to finish all that was planned, plus starting to plan for the summer and the next school year can feel overwhelming!

Then there’s the yard work and changing out the wardrobes for everyone for the new season.

And it doesn’t help that everyone in the house has spring fever –  they only want to play!  Including you, right?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed about all you have to do right now, this post is for you!

First of all, can I just encourage you to take breaks and allow yourself to rest and play and enjoy the spring weather with your children?

 

Here are some tips to get you through this busy season:

 

1. Get out and enjoy the weather! Go for a bike ride as a family or a walk in the park.

2. Change up your routine a bit.  Read to your children outside or let them do their schoolwork outside on the porch rather than indoors. Nature hikes are a great way to study science and enjoy God’s creation and the beauty of spring.

 

3. Have the children help with things that need to get done.  Delegate! They can help with the yard work, even the little ones.  They can pick up sticks and help with planting flowers.  Have your children help put away their winter clothes and organize the summer clothes in their drawers if they’re old enough.

4. Are you feeling stressed because there’s too much school work left to do? Pray and seek the Lord.  Do you really need to do it all? Is any of it busy work that can be skipped because your children already know the concepts?  We can get so stressed out about finishing a workbook or textbook… even the public schools don’t always finish their workbooks and textbooks.  Pray for wisdom on what you really need to complete.

5. Put aside the workbooks and plan a fun field trip that gets you outdoors. Go to the zoo, or take a ferry boat ride! Check out MN Field Trip and Activity Library for more ideas on great field trips for the spring.
6. As you plan your summer, allow for relaxing summer days enjoying time together as a family.  We can get so busy with summer activities and trips that we don’t end up getting the rest and refreshment that we so desperately need.

7. And as you consider what you will use for curriculum next school year, seek the Lord for clear direction and wisdom.  Take a day off from school, maybe even ask someone to take your children for a day, so you can focus on thinking through what you want to accomplish in the next school year.  Use my “Homeschool Evaluation and Goal Setting” sheet to help you with this (see sidebar). Consider your child’s learning style preferences. (Request my Informal Learning Style Assessment.)

8. Likewise, as you decide on activities and commitments for the summer and next school year, bring these decisions to the Lord for guidance.  Pray before committing so you don’t overcommit! Again, using the “Homeschool Evaluation and Goal Setting” sheet will help you decide what activities you really want to participate in.

9. Contact me to set up a homeschool consultation. I’d love to pray with you and help you think through what your child needs and what curriculum might be a good fit for them and their specific learning style preferences.

10. Most importantly, seek God for His peace and guidance and strength!

When we feel anxious or overwhelmed, God can help to give us peace and rest.  He wants us to rely on Him, to rest in Him and depend on Him for guidance.

 “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:6-7

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

Over the years when I’ve been stressed and overwhelmed about all I have to do, my husband has often reminded me to consider whether what I’m worrying about accomplishing will matter in light of eternity. Something to consider as we plan our days.

As you wind down your school year and go through this busy spring season, I pray you can fix your eyes on Jesus, and rest in Him. You don’t need to do this all in your own strength, God wants to help you!

4 Homeschool Pitfalls to Avoid

As we began homeschooling, I remember thinking that I needed to do things right! I wanted our kids to have the best education possible.

I bought little metal desks for the two oldest kids (ages 6 & 4) to do their school work in.  I bought all the workbooks and the teacher’s guides and we sat and worked through them together each day.  As we worked, our two toddlers were often busy getting into things.  I struggled to keep up with it all!

It didn’t take long for me to feel overwhelmed and frustrated.   In fact, by October of that first year of homeschooling, I became sick with mono.

Thankfully, a friend came along side me and gave good advice: homeschooling is more of a lifestyle, not just an educational method.  She assured me that I could rest while I was sick, and take time off school while I needed to heal.  “Have the kids lay in bed with you and read fun children’s books to them.” She said.

And that’s what I did.  It was a great bonding time! Plus, I learned later that reading aloud to your children helps build literacy skills.  We continued having read aloud time throughout all the years of our homeschooling!

That year I learned that it didn’t work well to try to imitate the public school (and my kids didn’t enjoy it either)!

I’d like to help others avoid some of the mistakes that I made that first year (and in subsequent years)…

I’m going to share with you how to avoid the 4 most common homeschooling pitfalls (and some apply to general parenting too):

  1. Don’t try to imitate the public school:

Homeschooling truly is more of a lifestyle of learning.  You don’t need little metal desks! Sit at the kitchen table, or on the couch, or even on the floor while you teach and learn!  And you don’t need to have your children sitting for 6-8 hours working on school work.  (that’s a good way to cause burnout!)

 

Young children need short teaching times, give them stretch breaks every 10-15 minutes.  They need the breaks to get their brains to focus again.  Also, they learn best by playing games, doing activities, and singing songs, not by using workbooks.  A workbook here and there is okay, and some children do enjoy filling in the little blanks, but you can teach most of what a Pre-K or Kindergartener needs to know without workbooks.

 

Homeschooling doesn’t take as much time because we’re not trying to corral 30 six-year old children all day, we just have our own children.  We can complete all the school work for kindergarten in a ½ hour.  In the elementary years, you can finish most focused academic work in just an hour or two.  Middle school and high school might require a little more time, but it usually won’t take all day. And remember to take breaks to re-focus!

 

The rest of their education takes place through daily life.  There are so many opportunities in a day to teach important skills and values, to work on character and help our children understand the world that God created!

 

Have them help with chores around the house, and teach them how to cook, clean and maintain a home.

 

Take them with you to the grocery store and teach them how to look at ingredients and choose the best foods, or how to watch for sales, and save money.

 

Teach them their colors and about matching while you sort socks. By age 10 they can even be doing their own laundry! (What a relief that was for me! With four kids, my laundry piles were insurmountable at times!)

 

When they ask “why?” or “how does this work?”, take the time to explain things to them, or help them find the answers. Teaching them to find the answers empowers them to be lifelong learners!

 

Read living books to them, and then help them explore topics within the books that interest them.  For example, as we read the book, “My Side of the Mountain”, our boys were interested in knowing more about falcons, so we went to the library and got books on falcons.  It was a great learning experience! (see my post on great books for kids for some book suggestions)    

 

I hope you get the idea…watch for learning opportunities and take advantage of them.  Using curriculum is helpful, and you will probably need some, but you don’t have to imitate the public school.

 

As you make learning part of your lifestyle, your children will become avid learners, looking for opportunities to learn about things that interest them.

 

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others:

 

We all do this! So-and-so tells us how wonderful their child is doing in a certain activity, and we wonder if we should get our child in that activity too.  Or another mom talks about how perfect the curriculum they’re using is, and we think we should consider switching to that curriculum too.

 

Or we observe one family’s children and decide we’re a failure because our children aren’t as well behaved as theirs.

 

Comparing ourselves to others usually leads to one of two things:

 

  • Discouragement: because we feel like we don’t measure up or we’re failing in some area.
  • Pride: because we think we’re doing a better job than the other person, and we get a little puffed up! We forget that it’s only by the grace of God that we are where we are!

 

Guard against comparing yourself or your children to others!

Instead, seek God for what you need to do in your family, and in your homeschool, and trust Him to give you the direction you need.

 

Let Him be your guide, rather than being swayed this way and that by what others are doing.

 

  1. Guard against being overcommitted:

Our society today places a lot of value on excelling in sports or the arts or academics.  There’s great pressure on parents to have their children in preschool, or community sports, or music lessons, or outside classes.  While these things are good, we can overload our children’s calendar and stress them out!

When they’re stressed out, they often have attitude problems, or they don’t do as well in their school work.  Instead of overloading our children with activities and classes, look for things that will help build character and help them grow in their faith.  Allow each child to be in only one activity outside the home at any given time, and then gradually add on more, if you feel you can handle it.

And we as parents can also become overcommitted.  People think that because we’re home with our children, we have extra time and so they ask us to help. Maybe it’s a volunteer position at church, or in co-op, or there’s a family in need.  While these things are also good to be involved in, we can become overcommitted with outside responsibilities, and our children and homeschooling suffer.  If this sounds like you, (this was me!), then you need to learn to say “no” sometimes!

 

  1. Avoid getting so wrapped up in the academic side of things that you forget about building character and focusing on spiritual growth:

The pressure to have our children up to grade level and doing as well as we perceive the public school children are doing (or as well as the grandparents think our children should be doing!) can be overwhelming at times. And we put a lot of pressure on ourselves regarding this as well.

It is important, but…

We can get so focused on the academic piece of homeschooling that we forget that one of the best parts of homeschooling is that we get the privilege of incorporating character building opportunities into their lives as well.  And that we’re also training up our children to love and know the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind.

Most homeschoolers know this and have this as their focus, but there can be times when we can get so wrapped up in teaching academics and doing outside activities, that we miss opportunities to teach spiritual truths or to work on a character issue.

Ask the Lord to help you keep spiritual growth and character building as a high priority in your day, ask Him to show you the opportunities so you don’t miss them.

 

If you’re struggling with one or more of these pitfalls and you need prayer or advice on how to remedy things, please send me a message. Or if you can think of other mistakes that you’ve made that you’d like to help spare others from making, please share them here.  We can help each other to stay on the right path as we share our lessons learned and pray for one another.

Blessings to you,

Kris

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Key to Successful Homeschooling

When we started homeschooling back in 1995, it was NOT something many people did, it was, in fact, a bit socially unacceptable.  People looked at you weird when you said you homeschooling. People didn’t understand why you would even WANT to homeschool!

There weren’t a lot of options out there for curriculum.  There weren’t a lot of co-ops to get involved in.  There wasn’t a lot of guidance as to how to do this crazy thing of educating our children at home!

It was a little scary! We needed to depend on the Lord!

We were like fish out of water.

So, we prayed, A LOT!  We prayed for wisdom, for guidance on small and big issues that came up. We prayed for our children, that they would grow to be godly men and women. We prayed for ourselves, for the strength to persevere in the hard times.

And God was there with us! He met our needs and gave us the answers and the guidance as we sought Him. We learned a big lesson those first years:

WHEN GOD CALLS YOU TO HOMESCHOOLING, HE WILL GUIDE YOU AS TO HOW TO DO IT!!

You are NOT alone on this journey! And you don’t need to figure it all out on your own.  God wants to help you.  He wants you to seek Him. It doesn’t matter how small the issue.

I remember many times struggling to figure out how to help one child or another understand a difficult math concept.  (Math was NOT my thing!) Sometimes I’d remember to pray right away, and sometimes it took both of us getting frustrated before I’d remember.  I found that praying with that child about the struggle was also helpful because it taught them dependence on God too.

And God did help!

Sometimes He gave me a new idea for how to explain something, or a new resource, or sometimes He seemed to open their mind to understand.  But He IS faithful to hear our prayers, even for something we might think is too small to bother Him with.

The other big issue as we started homeschooling was feeling inadequate.

“Who do I think I am trying to teach my children everything they need to know to graduate from high school?”

“I’m can’t do this! It’s too hard!”

I’m guessing you’ve had some of these thoughts.  Most of us do.  I’ve even seen parents who have a teaching degree balk at teaching their own children because they don’t feel adequate!

It IS a big job, and a challenging one, but the good news is, we don’t have to do it on our own, God doesn’t want us to. It’s a faith building experience to homeschool your children. 

In our weaknesses, He is strong.  The Apostle Paul speaks of this in Corinthians, when he talks about how he had a thorn in the flesh that made him weak (or inadequate). But God showed him that His grace was sufficient:

II Corinthians 12:9-10: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

As we depend on the Lord for educating our children, our lives are a testimony to our children and to others of God’s love and faithfulness as we depend on Him. It also builds our own faith as we see God provide and guide us.

After we’ve been homeschooling for awhile, we become more confident, and that feeling of inadequacy fades a bit.  As with anything, experience helps. That’s a good thing. But we need to be careful that we’re not so self-confident that we forget to turn to God for help and guidance on a daily basis.

the-key-to-successful-homeschooling

The key is to learn to abide in Christ as you homeschool.

John 15:1, 4-5: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser…Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

vine-and-branches

To abide is to be held, kept, and to dwell with. I love this word picture of a vine and a branch.  If the branch is not connected to the vine, it withers and dies.  We are like that branch, we need to be connected to Christ to be fruitful in this ministry of teaching our children.

How do we flesh this out?

  1. Spend personal time with the LORD every day. Apply the teachings of the Bible to your life.

God has given us His Word to communicate with us, to show us His way.  What a treasure it is, and yet so often, it gets overlooked.  Treasure God’s Word! Spend time reading it.  Ask Him to help you understand it.  There are Bible apps online that offer devotionals and plans for reading the scriptures.  The website: www.blueletterbible.org has lots of tools to help you understand the Bible. Or you can begin reading a specific book of the Bible and ask yourself as you read: “What do I learn about God in this chapter?” “What do I learn about man?” “How can I apply what I’ve learned to my own life?”.

 Set aside a specific time each day to be with the Lord.

Yes, I know your day is super full already! But it’s worth it to make this a priority.  Find something that you can skip (dare I say, social media! Ugh, that’s such a distraction for me at times), and replace that with spending time with the Lord.

If you only have a few minutes, then just write out a verse and read it over and over as you go through your day, meditating on it and asking God what he wants to teach you.

 

  1. Pray as you go through the day.  Pray for wisdom in homeschooling and parenting. 

Keep an ongoing dialogue with the Lord throughout the day, talking to Him as you would a friend.  Okay, you don’t have to say it out loud if you feel like people will think you’re crazy! The Lord hears our thoughts. Just talk to Him as you would your best friend. Ask for guidance and wisdom about anything you’re struggling with, big or small.

  1. Read the Bible and pray with your children every day.

Take time at the beginning of each day to read some scripture with your children, talk about it and then pray for God’s help as you begin your day.  Teach them to pray for others. Teach them to ask questions about God’s Word to help them understand it.

  1. Memorize scripture with your children – hide God’s Word in your heart.

 

Psalm 119: 9-11:

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.

 

You can use the Desiring God “Fighter Verse” program or the AWANA program if you can find one in your area. Memorizing scripture is such a great way to help both you and your children grow in your faith.

 

 I pray that God will help you to seek Him with all your heart, to depend on Him and to abide in Him as you teach your children… it’s truly the best way to home educate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Benefits of Reading Aloud to your Children

Some of my fondest memories from our families homeschool years were when the kids and I were reading a good book together (or rather, I was reading it aloud to them).  I remember getting all choked up in the touching story of an orphan called “Freckles”, and laughing with the kids while reading “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” Our read-aloud time together was the highlight of each day.

One of the most important things you can do for your kids is to read aloud to them from when they are babies all the way until they won’t let you anymore!

In fact, one of the greatest ways to build literacy is to read aloud to your children.  The National Center for Education Statistics found that children whose parents read to them tended to become better readers, and they performed better in school!

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” (from a Commission on Reading report)

The benefits of reading aloud to your children:

  1. It helps with language & speech development
  2. It expands vocabulary and helps kids learn pronunciation of words
  3. It develops curiosity, imagination & creativity
  4. It increases their attention span
  5. It hones their listening skills
  6. It builds literacy skills
  7. Plus, it’s a great bonding time between children and parents!!

Truly all ages benefit from reading out loud!

Experts recommend that you read aloud to your child as soon as he or she is born because children form so much of their intelligence potential during the early years of their life.

Reading aloud even helps older children!  It helps them understand grammar and correct sentence structure better. If your older child enjoys listening to you read aloud, keep doing it!

The only caveat:

You should choose GOOD literature! Read books that will edify them and help them grow in character and in their understanding of what makes good literature.  Is the plot interesting and clear? Are the characters fully developed and intriguing? Is the book well-written and full of good vocabulary to expand their knowledge or is it full of silliness and twaddle (as Charlotte Mason would say!)?

Is the plot interesting and clear? Are the characters fully developed and intriguing? Is the book well-written and full of good vocabulary to expand their knowledge or is it full of silliness and twaddle (as Charlotte Mason would say!)?

 

Choose literature that has characters who exemplify godly character and are people that your child can emulate or learn from.

Here are a few books that have lists of great literature:

“All Through the Ages” – This is considered the ultimate book list, it includes 20 different booklists all-in-one, all for around $30 available at Heppner Legacy Homeschool Store. The other great thing about this book is that the lists are organized by historical time period, and by their age appropriateness, so you can use the list to help in choosing books to go along with your history curriculum as well.

“Honey for a Child’s Heart” by Gladys Hunt, recently revised and lists books for children ages 0-12 for a little over $9.00 on Amazon.

“Books Children Love” by Elizabeth Laraway Wilson, another recently revised comprehensive guide to the best children’s literature for $22.00 on Amazon.

I also recently found a website written by Sarah Mackenzie called “The Read Aloud Revival” that I want to recommend.  Sarah’s currently got a 31-day challenge to help get you started.  Go to https://amongstlovelythings.com/ to find out more!

If you don’t already read aloud to your children, make a resolution to start in 2017! It’s one of the best things you can do for them.

If you don’t like to read, then consider getting books on CD for your kids to listen to, and listen right along with them.

Here are a few read-alouds that we enjoyed:

The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos  This is one of the best Bibles to read aloud to children because it’s written so a child from ages 4-12 can understand it, while staying close to the original scriptures.

childs-story-bible

“Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel” by Virginia Lee Burton. A great picture book about a man and his steam shovel that teaches about friendship and hard work. mike-mulligan

 Billy and Blaze” by C.W. Anderson.  A series of books that tell of the adventures of a boy and his horse.  These are picture books, so great for younger children. Each story has a lesson to be learned.billy-and-blaze“Christian Heros: Then and Now”  by Janet and Geoff Benge. A series of stories about Christians who have made a huge impact around the world.  These stories are very engaging and will definitely impact your life.heroes-then-and-now

Miller Family Series  by Mildred A. Martin. These are character building stories written by an Amish Mennonite author.wisdom-and-the-millers

“A Little Princess” by Francis Hodgson Burnett. The story of a little princess who is orphaned while living in a boarding school.  Boys and girls will enjoy this story.

a-little-princess

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater.  A funny story of a painter who has a houseful of penguins. poppers-penguins

The Borrowers by Mary Norton.  A series of stories about little people who live under the floor of an old English manor. borrowers

“Little House on the Prairie”  by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The chronicles of Laura Ingalls Wilder as she grew up on the Western frontier. Boys and girls enjoy this story and there’s a unit study book called the Prairie Primer that you can use along with it to make it a full curriculum for children grades 3-6.little-house-books

The Indian and the Cupboard  by Lynne Reid Banks. A series of books in which a little boy’s toy Indians and Cowboys come alive.indian-in-the-cupboard

My Side of the Mountain Trilogy  by Jean Craighead George.  A series of books about a boy who goes out and lives alone on a mountain and the adventures that he has.  Especially popular with boys.my-side-of-the-mountain

Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter. The story of an orphan from Chicago who ends up working for a lumber company and falls in love. Any books by Gene Stratton-Porter are wonderful!

Make this read aloud time a great family bonding time and wait in anticipation to see the benefits!

reading-aloud-to-your-children

10 Ways to Avoid the “Supermom” Syndrome

frazzled_mom1227369071Do you feel ever feel overwhelmed with all the responsibilities you have in a given day?Are there just not enough hours in the day to get everything done? Do you fall into bed exhausted and wake up feeling like you just need another hour of sleep?

I think most moms feel this way at various points in their lives.  But as moms we can also get in a vicious cycle of busyness, trying to do more than we really should be doing, trying to be “Supermom”.

Being a mom is a big job! You’re care-giver, housekeeper, nurse, cook, counselor, disciplinarian (or referee, depending on the day!), chauffeur, and more!  And that doesn’t even include your responsibilities as a wife!

Being a homeschool mom adds a whole new level of busyness and pressure.  Depending on how many children you have, homeschooling really is like a part-time to a full-time job. And some homeschooling moms are working outside the home as well!  Many homeschool moms end up volunteering at church or in their homeschool co-op too, and their lives are very, very full, making stress levels sky high!

About 10 years ago, we were in the midst of homeschooling all four of our children who were in the middle school and high school years. I was also volunteering in several ministry areas in our new church plant, I was co-teaching a class at our homeschool co-op and teaching water aerobics at the YMCA part-time. (I get tired just reading what I was doing!)   I sensed God was leading me to slow down and drop some of my responsibilities so I wasn’t so busy, but I didn’t think that I could quit any of what I was doing.  My husband was telling me I was too busy too.  Finally my body said “Enough!” and I became quite sick with what they thought at the time was a chronic autoimmune condition. Suddenly I could do almost nothing without becoming weak and exhausted. I couldn’t even cook my family a meal without needing to lie down part way through the process.

I share this story with you because God used it in big ways to get me to see that I was doing too much. I not only paid for it with my health, but my family was paying for it in other ways too. I didn’t even realize how much it had affected our marriage, plus our children were getting the short end of the deal with my time too.  As God worked in my heart, He also restored my health… but it was a long, difficult process and I want to share the lessons learned with you so you don’t have to go through something similar to learn the same lessons!

As moms, we need to learn to have boundaries with our time.  Here are some suggestions for you to consider as you think about how you use your time each day:

  1. Think through your priorities – write them out. For me, God is first in my life, then my husband and my children.  Next was homeschooling our children, my health, my extended family, my friends and finally ministry.  (This was not the way it was before I got sick!)  Spending time with God each day, gaining strength and peace from Him, makes a huge difference on how each day goes for me!   Also, if you don’t make your husband a high priority, the other urgent things in life will push him down on your list quite quickly.  Certainly there has to be flexibility in your priorities at times, but if you think through them ahead of time, it’s much easier to say “no” to some things that will come up that you need to hold off on doing.

 

  1. Pray and seek the Lord’s guidance before you commit to anything more in your schedule. When someone asks you to do something for them, tell them you need to pray and think about it before committing. Learn to say “no” if God leads you to do so.  Some people struggle more with being able to say “no” than others.  Friends often think that moms who are staying at home with their children have extra time on their hands, but that frequently isn’t the case.  Especially when you’re a homeschooling mom, it’s important to set boundaries on when you need to be doing school, and seek God’s direction when you’re asked to be involved in an activity that requires a lot of your time (or any activity for that matter, even if it’s only a little bit of your time!)  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your steps.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

  1. Pray and seek God’s guidance on your children’s commitments too. In our society, we get a lot of pressure to have our kids involved in so many activities such as sports, music lessons, and so on.  Our children can get burned out too if they have too much going on and they don’t get enough time to play and rest.  Besides, everything your child is involved in means you have to get them there!  I’d suggest that you let each child have only one activity that they’re involved in (it’s even better if you can have more than one child in the same activity!) and if you feel you can handle more, then consider allowing more for each child.

 

  1. Don’t forget to take care of yourself! As moms we’re so busy taking care of everyone else, we often neglect our own needs.  Take time for exercise, for eating healthy, for rest and doing things you enjoy, for going to the doctor or chiropractor or whatever you need.  Know your limits as far as what you can handle without getting run down.

 

  1. Listen to your husband regarding your commitments outside of the home. If he cautions you that you’re too busy, then you probably are!  They can see more clearly than we can what we can handle sometimes.  Plus, if your husband says you’re too busy, that’s an indication that he’s feeling neglected, and that will not be good for your marriage.

 

  1. Delegate household chores: it’s good for your children to be helping with chores around the house. They’re learning life skills that they’ll need when they grow up, plus it helps build responsibility and other great character qualities. Even little ones can help with sorting silverware and socks, putting away their toys, etc.  Build independence in your children by teaching them to help and also do things for themselves.

 

  1. Limit your time on social media, the internet, etc. I hesitated to put this one in here but actually social media puts a lot of pressure on us whether we know it or not. It’s nice to know what’s happening in our friend’s lives, but sometimes it fills our mind to overflow knowing everyone’s business!  We feel like we need to be posting or responding to posts, and this can add pressure to an already full day. Social media is also another place where we can often begin to compare ourselves with others, and usually there’s someone that we don’t measure up to, so we begin the game of trying to be “more like Susie” or whichever supermom we decide we want to be like! And lastly, there’s always the fact that the internet and social media can suck us in and waste a lot of precious time that we could be spending with our husband and family.

 

  1. Don’t compare yourselves and your family to others! There’s such a temptation in our society to compare ourselves with others, and to try to keep up with what others are doing. But God created us to be ourselves! We don’t need to be like anyone else, and we shouldn’t try to be anything more than what God has called us to be!

 

  1. Change curriculum or your homeschool schedule if needed: sometimes we can feel overwhelmed because we get curriculum that is way too teacher intensive and we find we just can’t balance doing school and getting everything else done that we need to do. If you’re teaching multiple children and it seems like you can’t get everything done for school in a given day, or you feel pulled in too many directions, you may need to change your curriculum or schedule. Evaluate your curriculum and schedule.  Talk with your husband about this if you think this is an issue in your home.

 

  1. If you’re already overcommitted, be willing to ask for help: First, pray for guidance on what needs to change in your schedule. Ask your family for help too.  Ask your husband to help you figure out what needs to go in your schedule to make life less stressful.  It’s okay to admit you need help and it’s okay to step down from doing things that are putting you into “supermom” mode and causing you too much stress.

 

May the Lord bless you and guide you as you homeschool your children! May He help you to find balance in your life and help you to guard against the “supermom” syndrome of overcommitment.

 

 

 

 

 

6 Tips to Lessen Sibling Squabbles in Your Home!

children fighting

“Mom, Joey hit me!”…  “He stole my truck”   “I want him out of my room!”

Does this sound familiar?  When our children fight, it’s so frustrating! I remember days when I felt more like a referee than a mom!  Seriously, dealing with our kids bickering is often exhausting!

Squabbles between siblings are probably one of the top frustrations for parents of multiple children. As homeschoolers, we hope and pray that our kids will be the best of friends. That’s part of why many people choose to homeschool, because they want close family relationships. I want to encourage you that close family relationships ARE frequently one of the blessings of homeschooling.  In our family, our adult children are very close. They call one another, and initiate doing things together now as adults.  But when they were younger, there were some miserable times of fighting too.  How could this be?

As homeschoolers our children are spending much more time together than they would if they were all going off to school somewhere.  They are together all day without much of a break from one another. When you’re with someone almost 24/7, you’re bound to find things about them that irritate you, right?   The good news is, rather than looking at this as a negative thing, we can look at it as a learning opportunity! Since conflict is bound to happen when you spend that much time together, we can use the conflicts that arise to work on conflict resolution skills! We can use these sometimes silly disagreements to teach our children grace, forgiveness, and how to talk about issues in a loving manner.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the conflicts that are happening among your children in your home, I have some suggestions for you:

  1. Pray! Pray that God will convict of sin and bring about repentance. Pray for God to work in your children’s hearts to give them a desire to please Him. Pray that your children will recognize that their sinful attitudes when they’re fighting don’t please God.  Pray for restoration of any strained relationships among your children. Pray that you can control your temper and be a good example as you deal with silly fights among your children! Pray scripture for your children:  Colossians 1:9-12; Ephesians 1: 16-23.

 

  1. Teach your children how to deal with conflicts in a God-honoring way:

There were two resources that I found especially helpful in teaching the kids about conflict resolution.  The first one the Lord brought to help us was a book written by three homeschooled siblings called “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” by Sarah, Stephen and Grace Mally.    The Mally children have done a great job of sharing about their lives and what they’ve learned about getting along. This book is an amazing resource.  We read it out-loud together, laughing as we heard their stories.  Sarah, the oldest in the family was like a mentor to our oldest daughter as we read that book.  It really changed the way she treated her brothers, because Sarah Mally challenges the oldest child of the family to be the one that brings unity among the siblings.  Our three boys were also challenged to treat one another better because of how the Mally siblings responded to one another in the various circumstances.  All in all, I felt this book had a great impact on our children’s relationships with one another.

A couple years later God led me to another resource on conflict resolution: “The Young Peacemaker” by Corlette Sande.   Using scripture, stories, role playing and cartoons, Corlette Sande teaches on what causes conflict, how to respond to it and how to prevent it.  We used this book and the cartoon booklets that go with it as our family devotions each morning for several weeks.  I actually learned a lot about conflict resolution myself!!  She has the children memorizing verses on dealing with conflict as well.  This is another book I highly recommend!

  1. Encourage your children to talk with one another in a respectful way and to work out their differences in a way that honors God. I know this is hard with little ones, but as they get old enough to understand God, you can remind them that they’re accountable to God for their actions. Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Pray with them each day asking that God will help them to treat one another respectfully and kindly.  As they hear this prayer, and are reminded each day that God wants them to get along, hopefully they’ll be motivated to make more of an effort. Learning to communicate in a respectful manner is a skill that your children will need all through life.  Work on helping them learn this skill.  If you hear disrespectful language in your children’s conversations, encourage them to try to state their thoughts again in a respectful way. Instead of “you’re so mean, give me my toy back now!” they can say “I feel frustrated when you take my toys away, please give it back and I’ll let you play with it in a little while”. Model how to have respectful conversations as you speak with your spouse and with your children.  They will follow your example more than what you say!
  1. Teach your children that conflict starts in the heart. James 4:1-2 says “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it”   Oftentimes fights arise because we selfishly don’t get what we want.  A self-centered person will often be proud, and selfish, envious of what others have.  Instead we want to teach our children to be God-centered, living for Him.  One school year we spent a long time studying the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  I found coloring sheets related to each fruit of the Spirit, we read stories of people who lived out that fruit in their lives, and we had prizes for the child who did the best at exhibiting the fruit we were studying about each week.
  1. Encourage your children to think before they speak. “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23   Often a fight can be avoided if we just take a moment to think about the consequences of what we might be going to say.  Study James 3 with your children on taming the tongue.  Encourage them to use their tongue wisely and think before they speak.
  1. Incorporate the language of forgiveness in your home. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. “ Ephesians 4:32   We all make mistakes because no one is perfect, except Christ!  We need to teach our children that God wants them to be people of grace.  God has forgiven us of so much.  Shouldn’t we be willing to forgive others for the mistakes or unkind things they’ve done to us? God commands us to be forgiving.  It’s not a recommendation, it’s a command.  We’re to forgive as He forgives us.  Teach your children the importance of apologizing and of offering forgiveness as well.

Pray for wisdom and seek God’s help to make your home a peaceful and enjoyable place to be! He is faithful and will give you the help you need!

I’d love to hear your ideas on other ways to help our children get along with one another – please comment if you have other thoughts!

 

Encouragement for the Burned Out Homeschool Mom

share_1456029866195 (2)Burnout is defined as feeling depressed, exhausted, and exasperated, basically being worn out, even ready to give up.   Burnout is a fairly common problem among homeschoolers at some point in their homeschool journey, so if you’re feeling a little bit this way, don’t despair!   The daily grind, continuous lesson planning, teaching and dealing with attitudes and childhood issues can eventually start to wear on us.  Think about it: we’re with our children almost 24/7/365 days of the year!  We don’t tend to get a lot of breaks unless we’re intentional about it.    We fill a lot of roles: wife, mom, teacher, nurse, cook, launderer, guidance counselor, taxi driver and more!  That’s a lot for anyone to take on!

Has homeschooling become more of a chore than a joy?  If you’re feeling burned out, the first thing I recommend is that you ask God to show you what needs to change in your situation to help you recover.  He knows everything about you and is able to reveal the causes of your weariness. There are many causes of burnout, too many to cover in this blog post! So I’ll just cover the most common causes and give you some suggestions for what to do about them.

Possible causes of burnout and what do to about them: 

1. Curriculum issues- If the curriculum you’re using isn’t working for your family or is taking too much time and energy, it can cause burnout.  Michael Smith from HSLDA stated that they are seeing a trend; more  moms are getting burned out with homeschooling.  The connection they’re seeing is that it’s usually moms who have a highly structured curriculum or program. If this is your issue, take some time to reevaluate what your goals are for homeschooling your children.  I’d encourage you to take a week off from homeschooling and look into some other curriculum that might be a better fit for your family.

Remember that we’re not a public school and we don’t need to teach like we are.  Realize that children don’t need to sit and “do school” for long hours each day, they can be learning so much from their times of play. Take time to enjoy reading good literature to your children, explore opportunities to learn that aren’t textbook related: field trips, co-ops, real-life books, learning games and projects.

If your curriculum is causing you to feel burned out, I’d love to meet with you and help you find curriculum and a schedule that would work better for you and your children, just contact me via the “contact me” link on my home page if you want to meet with me about this.

2.  Doing too much– this can be either in your homeschool schedule (trying to do it all) or it can be in another area of your life outside the home.

Are you the only one who does all the cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc. in your home?  Children can be enlisted to help with household chores at an early age, and it’s really great training for them to help.

We can also over-commit in serving others outside the home.  We are NOT superwomen!  And God doesn’t expect us to be either!    Ask God to show you where you might need to cut back in your schedule. (your husband might also have some ideas on this one!).

3. Children with learning struggles-If you have a child who is not learning as easily as you hoped he or she would be, this can be very stressful and time consuming and can cause burnout.

There are resources out there to help you with a struggling child.  Check out Dianne Craft’s website: www.diannecraft.com for some ideas on how to help your child learn better.  There are also several good phonics and math programs that are good for struggling learners.

Invest in helping them overcome whatever is causing their struggle. Find a support group for parents of struggling learners so you can talk about it and learn from others.

4. Physical Issues: sickness or lack of sleep can cause you to feel burned out.

Hopefully this is short lived, but it’s important for you to take steps to help yourself feel better.  Health problems really drain you and it’s important that you take care of yourself in this area. Sometimes we’re so busy taking care of everyone else, we neglect our own health.

Our first year of homeschooling I came down with Mono! I was so afraid I’d fail my kids because I was too sick to really teach them.  Thankfully a fellow homeschooler suggested that I put the workbooks away and instead spend time reading good books to them. It was a great time of relaxed learning that taught me a lot about the value of reading out loud to our kids.

5. Not taking time for yourself– Think of yourself like a sponge full of water.  If a sponge gets squeezed out till it’s dry, it isn’t much use anymore unless you soak it in water again. Similarly, you need to replenish yourself.  As a full time teacher, mother and wife, you need to take time to meet your own needs too.

Ask your husband to help you by giving you time to do some things you enjoy without the kids.  Or go out on a date with your hubby. Do you have a favorite hobby? Take some time to enjoy it.  Or spend some time with friends. I found that getting exercise really helped me overcome the February blues that seemed to hit every year.  I give you permission to take care of yourself (not that you really need my permission, but sometimes we just need someone to tell us it’s okay!)!

6. Not depending on God– As we get more confident in what we’re doing, we begin to forget that we need God’s help on a daily basis to homeschool our children and we try to do it in our own strength.  This happened to me more than once over my years of homeschooling. John 15:5 says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  We NEED God’s help!  He doesn’t want us to do this on our own, He wants to help us.   I’ve been writing daily devotions that I’d love to share with you to help you stay on track with depending on the Lord. Look for the link on my website: “Renewing Your Mind- Daily Devotions for the Busy Mom” – and sign up to receive these daily devotions.

7. Not enough support We need support from our husband, family and friends to stay the course.  If you need more support from your husband, talk to him about it.  He can’t read your mind, but he’s likely to be willing to help you more if you let him know!  Also there are great support groups for homeschoolers out there.  Join MACHE or your state organization and find local support groups near you.

8. Lost sight of your goals You may have gotten to the place where you’ve forgotten why you chose to homeschool.  Have you ever written out some goals or reasons for homeschooling? Pull those out and review why you’re doing this anyway! If you’ve never done this, sit down with your spouse and talk about why you’re homeschooling and what you hope to accomplish and get a renewed sense of purpose.

There are definitely other reasons for burnout than those listed here, but I think these are some of the top ones. I want to encourage you, before you just give up on homeschooling all together,  pray and seek God’s help to overcome these feelings of burnout.  When He calls us to homeschool, He’ll also give us the strength and help we need to do it!