Let’s be clear.
There is no silver bullet against feelings of homeschool overwhelm.
There will be times that it will rear its ugly head.
Even right now – as I am writing this – I have one child in the upstairs bathroom…
…another child in the downstairs bathroom…
…and I’m somewhere in the middle.
Both are calling me for help.
It’s one of those “Are you bleeding?!” moments.
Be right back.
As I was saying, there is no “one and done” to overcome homeschool overwhelm.
There are ways to overcome those feelings so that you can be productive each day.
The tools are already within you or, at least, within reach.
The talents you have within you can help you and your child to reach your goals for home education.
No matter what those goals are.
Do You Have What it Takes to Battle Homeschool Overwhelm?
I know, as a new homeschooler, you may feel your specific talents may not make the grade.
And that’s not an unusual feeling. Homeschool overwhelm is more common than you would think.
Many articles that are written to assist you as a homeschooler are written by homeschoolers who have “been there done that”.
“Homeschool overwhelm” have become buzzwords.
Words we are familiar with and work diligently to squash.
So, I know – or rather we know – there are many ways to make your talents work for you as a home educator.
What About YOUR Questions?
Am I Enough?
Now, there are questions that will inevitably come up as you begin your journey.
Among the first will probably be “am I enough”? Or, “Do I have all the necessary tools to educate my child?”
The answer is yes.
And it will always be yes.
As long as you don’t second guess yourself, your skills or talents.
Even if you feel that some concepts are beyond you, there are many tools at your disposal.
In fact, they’re tools that you probably use on a daily basis.
But, hadn’t considered being educational tools for your children.
Things such as reconciling your bank account can be a great life tool for learning math.
As well as baking recipes.
As a matter of fact, baking can also be a good tool for learning how to follow directions.
Once they bite into that rock cookie, I’m sure your kids will follow those directions more closely.
They’ll pay attention like a trip to Disney is riding on it.
I’m Losing Their Interest
Speaking of paying attention, another one of your questions may be “what do I do when I feel like I’m losing my child’s attention?”
Well, if you’ve already chosen a curriculum but you feel like you’re losing your child’s interest, there are ways you can manage that.
First, if you don’t know it yet, discover your unique teaching style.
In other words, discover the way you naturally communicate with others when you’re trying to get a point across.
There are several different assessments that can guide you to your main style.
It’s likely that you will use a combination of teaching styles, but there will always be one main style that you tend to rely upon to communicate.
The most common styles are those developed by the late Anthony Grasha. They were studied to explain the dynamics between teachers and learning in college classrooms.
- Authority, or lecture style – a style in which a teacher finds themselves doing most of the talking while the student takes notes
- Demonstrator, or coach style – a style which a teacher demonstrates by showing students what they need to know
- Facilitator, or activity style – this style trains students to ask questions and develop skills to find answers to promote self-learning
- Delegator, or group style – this style is best suited for lab activities or debate with the teacher taking the role of observer
In other words, do you like to:
- Talk…a lot?
- Show and not-so-much tell?
- Guide to help someone find the answer?
- Wait and see?
There is a fifth style that is called Hybrid, or blended style. It is an integrated approach. The idea is to blend the teachers’ personality and interests with the student’s needs and curriculum-appropriate methods. It allows the teacher to combine different styles to cater to the student’s needs.
Once you’ve figured out your teaching style, you can move on to determining your student’s learning style.
A learning style is simply that. How people learn.
Or, to make it simpler, how a person:
- perceives information
- processes information
- organizes information after processing
The most common system to assess how we perceive, or absorb information is the VARK system.
- Visual (sight)
- Auditory (hearing)
- Reading and
- Kinesthetic (other sensations which include touch and temperature as well as movement).
Auditory learners are more comfortable absorbing information they’ve heard or discussed. Kinesthetic learners prefer to learn through practical lessons and hands-on activities.
You may find it helpful to confirm what your child’s learning style is through an online assessment.
Yes, But What About Home Educators…
The third, and final assessment is one specifically designed for homeschoolers.
Created by Caleb Page of Homeschool-Curriculum.org, this homeschooling styles diagnostic aims to help homeschoolers understand how they naturally communicate.
How you can best overcome homeschool overwhelm. And how you can use it to help your children succeed.
None of the assessments should take much time.
Now, To Tweak
Once you receive your results, go back to your curriculum to see how you may be able to tweak your presentation.
Perhaps you’ve found that your child prefers worksheets rather than hands-on activities.
There are many sites that provide free worksheets that will reinforce the activities that you have scheduled.
Homeschool-Curriculum.org has an entire section devoted to free homeschool worksheets and printables.
Or, perhaps you have a kinesthetic learner and they really don’t want to hear lectures or watch you demonstrate all the time.
Help them get their hands dirty with practical activities – like the bank book and baking activities mentioned above.
Look for what you have around you and for what is available to you to assist both your teaching style and your child’s learning style.
And if you feel that a curriculum is just not suited to either of you, contact the provider before throwing out the baby with the bath water.
They may be able to direct you to parent forums that could help you.
Also, others may have offered suggestions to help improve learning and engage students.
Most of all, remember the primary goal is student learning.
I’m Not Sure I Can Teach That
Another question may be “what if I don’t feel comfortable teaching a certain topic of study?”
I can understand that.
I like to consider myself proficient in many different academic areas.
Even foreign languages, art, and music.
But ask me about design – of any kind – and you will hear crickets.
And it’s telling on me now.
Especially since my oldest is interested in graphic design.
That’s something mommy don’t do.
She wants to be proficient in JAVA, Scratch, and whatever other tech slang word is being thrown around now.
I know nothing about JAVA, Photoshop…
…I don’t even own a sewing machine!!
Designing is not what I do.
I was the girl in high school who pinned her skirt together for her first vocal concert until I could find a seamstress.
So, I search for online alternatives.
And I also encourage you to do the same.
Four favorites in our house:
- Time4Learning – they include several curriculum subject alternatives. In one affordable program. With scope and sequence guides and a handy scheduling tool, we have used them for main subjects and for supplementing.
- Science4Us – my oldest loves this online alternative. It is science made fun. It also includes many aspects of language arts (like Silly Bulls and alphabetizing science words)
- ABCMouse.com – is learning in disguise for my youngest. Letters, colors, social sciences, language arts, and math are included.
- Schoolhouse Teachers – is chocked full of everything. Including family fitness.
Another alternative to battle homeschool overwhelm would be to look for a homeschool cooperative.
This is our first year being a part of a cooperative.
A huge load off my shoulders.
I know my kids are studying literacy and numeracy. I know they are getting physical education. As well as science.
And because it is a cooperative where parents contribute their time and talents, I know they are receiving creative arts…
…that’s my contribution.
Cooperatives provide an opportunity for children to learn from parents who are more specialized in certain areas or subjects.
So, if there is something you don’t quite feel comfortable presenting, trust that there is a parent who does.
There is no need for you to add to the feeling of homeschool overwhelm when you don’t have to.
Cooperatives also provide social interaction for homeschoolers (if that is a criticism you’d like to squash).
Something else to think about. If you’re not opposed to the option, check with your school district. Some offer virtual classes for different topics of study.
Has It Become Too Much for Your Child?
One very important question to add is what if my child feels overwhelmed too?
Perhaps you need to pare down on what you got going on.
Reduce your commitments.
Take stock of how much time it takes for each subject. How much time any outside commitments are taking.
Pare down to the basics.
In other words, what is needed for your family to function as smoothly as possible?
For your home to be cared for?
And also what’s needed to meet any state educational requirements?
To Sum It All Up…(see what I did there?)
As a new – even veteran – homeschooler, you don’t have to fall victim to feelings of inadequacy or homeschool overwhelm.
There are options available.
So, that you can enjoy the home education journey with your child.
If you believe what you are doing is not working for you or your child, shake it up.
Make some changes.
(We’re in our third week of the year and I’m still making adjustments.)
Look at the parts that ARE working.
Examine the way you enjoy teaching as well as the way your child enjoys learning.
Then, look for things readily available to you.
Once you have them, add them to those working parts.
Also, look for alternatives to the topics of study that you may feel ill-equipped to teach.
Building around what works can keep your student – as well as you – engaged in home education.
Remember, your home education does not have to resemble anyone else’s.
Yes, it is up to you to make it work, but there are resources to assist you.
Take advantage of the resources.
Then, combine them with your specific talents.
And enjoy the journey of home education.