Saturday, January 19, 2013

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Best Kept Homeschool Secret Ever

I don't know if people are really ready to hear this.

In all the years I have homeschooled, I have formulated one well-kept gem.

It is the tool that every successful homeschooler I know (and I know a lot) has relied on.  It has saved many a homeschool disaster and re-railed a lot of  derailed trains.

It is simple.


It's not that serious.  Sit down, put your feet up, let your kids put their feet up too.

Are you relaxed yet?


Let me try a different approach.

I read a lot of homeschool blogs, from journal type blogs like mine, to curriculum heavy blogs, to blogs that focus on the holistic child.  In reading all of these wonderful journals from fellow homeschoolers (and the ideas are truly wonderful) I just get the sense that folks are trying too hard.

Now, I could be wrong. Maybe these folks are just sooooo awesome that the stuff that they share ... tips, tools, insights, appear to be work for peons like me.. but for them, it's just fun.  BUT... I just get tired reading it.

Now I need to relax.

I love all of the homeschool stuff that is shared on the internet. I truly do, and I don't recommend for a moment, that you don't do some of these things... that feel natural to you.  But guys, you have to stop trying to do it all.  This is where homeschool burnout comes from.

Now that I have suggested relaxation, I don't mean that we should just discontinue all active homeschooling, and hope that our kids pick up some learning from the TV.  No.  What I do mean is that you keep it simple.

By all means, prepare your homeschoolers for college prep coursework, plan out their highschool plan, map out their year, and do regular check-ups to make sure you are roughly on track, but don't fill every waking moment with an activity, a game, a puzzle, a chore.  Let their lives be a little more organic than that. Let them take lots of breaks.  Let them fall behind and then catch up. Let them sleep in, and stay up late.  Let them just be.

In all of my years of homeschooling, the times when we struggled the most were those times when I forgot to relax and began to overplan homeschooling and to get all homeschool-competitive. The times when they learned the most, and broke through barriers was when I let-up, and gave them a break.

In summation, (let's see if I can clean this up) I feel like many of us work too hard to make homeschooling something regimented and constructive, and schoolish.  We don't realize we are doing it, and even try not to, but we do.  We put preschoolers on a boxed curriculum, and freak out when our 11th graders don't have enough college credits.  In the meantime, the kids start to push back and rebel, and we feel like homeschool failures.  Meanwhile, I have found that the proverbial watched pot doesn't boil, and that when left to their own devices, (beyond the required basics), an 11 year old can teach himself to build websites, and an 9 year old girl can suddenly sing 3 or 4 octaves and develop an unquenchable love of history and reading. *Results are not typical, nor should they be.

So can we please try to stop planning our children's successes and instead chill out a little and let them reveal their successes to us?

I know.  It's easier said than done.  I probably would have ignored this advice myself a few years ago and called myself crazy.



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