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Homeschooling 101 – Can You Really Burnout?
Thinking of homeschooling your child? Have you already decided to take responsibility for your children’s education? You may not be aware, but burnout can be a common problem with homeschoolers. Your child may suffer burns, but you may also suffer some degree of burns. Many causes can be found that contribute to this burn, and the good news is that it can be easily treated.
The cause of burnout can be as simple as illness, changing family dynamics like a new baby, changing work demands for parents, or modest changes in the family schedule. Current signs and symptoms associated with burnout may manifest as impatience, overindulgence, boredom, emotional outbursts without apparent explanation, anger, or complacency. Interestingly, a burn doesn’t have to be such a negative event. In fact, there are better life experiences for your child than learning how to handle them from an early age. After all, we’ve all had experiences with burnout in our jobs.
If this happens to you or your child, it can serve as a wake-up call; an indication that the situation may need adjustments. Maybe you just need time to step back and reevaluate your short-term and long-term goals. Perhaps this is an opportunity to communicate and solve problems with your child. Preventing or even avoiding a burn can be done by observing the early warning signs.
First, check your expectations and make sure you’re not asking too much of yourself or your child. Avoid being a perfectionist. Accept the good days and make room for the not so good days. When things don’t seem to be working, look for alternative solutions. Flexibility is one of the best tools for catching burnout early, or avoiding it altogether. A child’s interest in learning will ebb and flow over days, weeks, and months. Allow yourself to relax schedules and targets, allow for downtime or non-productive time and this will go a long way towards mitigating burnout and improving the learning experience.
For perhaps more than 100 years, public schools have had roughly the same schedule; 5 days a week, 9 months a year. As needed, teachers spread out the curriculum during that period and continue their marching orders toward set objectives within set deadlines, at the unmindful pace of about 30 kids in the classroom. This process is designed to meet the needs of teachers and administrators, but is not tailored to meet the needs of every child. There is a process in learning; receiving information, then assimilating what has been learned. Your child’s appetite for learning will seem insatiable at times, and at other times he just needs to take a break.
Parents often tend to push a homeschooled child too hard. Maybe we compare our homeschooling to the rigors of public school from 8:30am to 3:30pm and assume that’s the way they should do it. When asked about many homeschooling families, parents report that their child learns more and tends to progress faster than their child’s counterpart in a public school setting. So, relax with the schedule. Don’t overdo it. Help your child to signal when it is time to stop when they are full. Trust that they will want to learn, because they do!
Take breaks in the routine if the tension starts to rise. Consider a change in your parenting style. As an example, children like to practice their spelling if a game is made where they are asked by and with an adult. Or why not bake a pizza and learn fractions by cutting the pizza into halves, quarters, eighths, etc.
Avoid driving your child too hard. Be careful not to exceed the goals in your child’s socializing activities. A dirty mother or father can lead to a shy child. The result is unhappiness for everyone. Remember to let your son or daughter express their likes and dislikes. Check with them; see how your child feels about homeschooling. Bring them into decision making. The final decisions are with you, but the child feels valued and included when he can offer his perspective. Ask them if there is anything they would like to add to their lesson or activities they would like to do.
Let your son or daughter choose the theme every now and then. For example, your child wants to learn about the stars. Teach them the basics about the types of stars, planets, and constellations. Talk to them about what peoples in history thought about celestial objects. Then take them to a museum, planetarium, or library. Give them resources and then let your child figure out how to learn more on their own. Remember, give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life. Let your child have a say in his education.
Don’t forget to ask your spouse for support. Communication within the family is all important. If you are the primary parent-mentor, ask for time off and have your spouse take over one day a week. Find neighbors who are homeschooling and find another homeschooling support group. Don’t try to achieve everything by yourself. There are simply too many resources out there. Remember, your job is to be a mentor to your child, not a professional teacher who knows it all. Learn how to provide your child with the resources to educate themselves, provide a little encouragement here and there, and help them follow what inspires them. Remember that homeschooling should also mean “happy schooling.”
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