Dealing with the Back-to-Homeschool Blues

depressionThis is my tenth year of homeschooling (twelfth if you count the years I homeschooled preschool), I run a website on homeschooling, am firmly convinced of its benefits, and yet, I still suffer from the back-to-homeschool blues. Along with late winter (when everyone is sick of each other and sick of being stuck in the house) and spring graduation season (which hurts because I’ll never have that), this is the time of year I find it hardest to be a homeschooler. Judging from my conversations with others as well as posts on social media, I’m not alone in this regard.

Even though homeschooling is much more accepted now than it ever was in years past, it is still the road less traveled, and sometimes that road gets mighty lonely. It seems like everyone is posting their back-to-school photos and excitedly talking about their upcoming school year. Other moms who have been part of your homeschool support network may have decided that this year traditional school is the better choice for their family. It can be easy to wonder if you are doing the right thing when almost everyone around you is doing something else.

Sometimes the blues come from listening to other homeschoolers. There are so many educational philosophies out there and this is the season when homeschoolers are discussing their curriculum choices and educational plans. It can be easy to feel intimidated especially by those homeschoolers who have strong personalities and are very convinced that their way to homeschool is the “right” way to homeschool. Add in all those social media posts of perfect homeschooling moments and academic excellence and even veteran homeschoolers are not immune to feelings of inadequacy.

Then there are the blues that come from one’s own children. My high school aged sons have voluntarily decided to continue homeschooling and not attend a traditional high school. They feel that it is the better option, yet school is school and to say they are dreading it would be an understatement. My oldest is not academically inclined at all. As far as he is concerned, school is torture. He has two years left and is looking for that light at the end of the high school tunnel that promises freedom. Meanwhile, my six-year-old daughter spent a full hour crying her eyes out the other night because her friend who lives two houses away is starting kindergarten this year at the local public school and she wants to go with her (I tried to explain that even if they went to the same school, they wouldn’t be in the same grade and wouldn’t get to see each other). The real issue is that she feels like she is losing her friend and I understand it is hard to feel left behind.

Plus there is the work load. While various methods vary in the amount of work required by the parent, there is still work involved in preparing lessons and correcting school work and of course, making sure the work gets done.

All of this can leave a homeschooler feeling exhausted and warn out before the year even begins. So then, how does one deal with this annual tradition of back-to-school blues? In my case, I turn to God. I have my ongoing novena for our school year and for my children to learn what they should. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be and I need to trust in that even when the road hurts and feels hard. I seek support from like-minded friends and try to avoid the people and articles which inadvertently make me feel like crying and running away.

The one advantage of having so many years under my homeschooling belt is that I know that I will survive this temporary feeling of hopelessness. Some homeschooling years are better than others, but every year, we manage to settle into a routine and get things done. One day at a time, this year will pass. With God’s grace, there will even be some good moments. And before I know it, spring will come and we will all be looking forward to summer break.

Author: Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, editor of "Today's Catholic Homeschooling", is the mother of two biological sons and one adopted daughter. She is in her thirteenth year of homeschooling. She has a B.A. in History and Fine Art and a Master's Degree in Applied Theology. She is the author of "The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling" and "The Power of Forgiveness". She blogs at spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com