This time of year can be so hard on homeschoolers. Everyone is sick of being in the house. Siblings are starting to drive each other crazy. Meanwhile, moms take a look at what has been accomplished so far and inevitably feel they are falling behind. One also starts to hear of other homeschoolers enrolling their children in traditional schools for the coming year. It is only natural to start to wonder if one’s children would be better off in a traditional school as well.
There’s no doubt that homeschooling can be extremely difficult, but that in itself is not a reason to give up the battle. Our call as Catholic parents is to submit to the will of God for both ourselves and our children. Here are some ways to stay faithful in homeschooling even when the road is hard.
Decisions to homeschool are not made lightly. If you feel you were called by God to homeschool your children, the decision to stop homeschooling should not be made without a great deal of prayer. There may come a time when traditional school is the best choice for your children or for a particular child in your family, but you won’t know that without bringing that question to God.
A novena to do God’s will regarding homeschooling for your family is a great place to start. God will either give you the grace and strength you need to continue on your homeschool journey or He will open the doors to the appropriate school experience for your child.
Even if you are not reconsidering your decision to homeschool, homeschooling is too difficult an endeavor to tackle without God’s help. It is a good idea to pray every day for your homeschooling journey.
2) Seek Support from Other Homeschoolers
When you are having a rough homeschool day (or season), the people to turn to are not your friends whose children leave the house for six hours every day or the family members who thought you had lost your mind when you started homeschooling in the first place. No, you want to turn to other homeschoolers who have walked in your shoes and know first-hand both the challenges and rewards that come from homeschooling.
Every homeschooling parent needs other homeschool parents to lean on. Ideally, these should be people you get to see in real life. However, if that is not possible, there are also many online support groups. Facebook has several groups devoted to Catholic homeschooling. These groups can be a great place to vent, share ideas and prayer requests, and both give and receive homeschool encouragement.
I belong to both a local Catholic homeschool group and several Facebook groups. I am thankful every day for the love, prayers, and advice of these fellow travelers on the journey.
3) Read Something Encouraging
When I first started homeschooling, I read everything I could about homeschooling. I still enjoy reading about homeschooling, but my standards have changed. I now immediately put down any book or click off of any article that has a “homeschooling is perfect” or “look how wonderful our lives are” attitude. I want something both encouraging and real. Read articles that remind you why you started homeschooling in the first place and why you should keep up the good fight.
4) Join a Co-Op or Hybrid School
Perhaps your children do need more time outside of the house. If a child is extroverted, if you only have one child (or one child in a given age range), or if your child is high-school aged, he or she may need more than you can give them on your own. Fortunately, many homeschool groups work together to form parent or teacher led co-ops. These may meet for one or two mornings or afternoons a week, but offer an opportunity to get together with peers and learn something from someone other than mom or dad.
My five-year old daughter takes part in a co-op and it is one of the highlights of her week. If there isn’t one in your area, perhaps God is calling you to start one. Kyndra Steinmann is currently sharing her series of tips on starting co-ops on the Home Educators Association of Virginia website.
Hybrid schools usually meet two or three days a week with the other days being used to complete homework and/or to pursue other classwork or interests. While my oldest son is happy being homeschooled full-time for high school, my second son, who is in eighth grade, attends an alternative school two days a week. It’s been a perfect fit for him. There are several such schools opening around the country. If you are fortunate enough to live near one, it might be worth investigating.
5) Celebrate What is Working in Your Homeschool
When it seems as if everything is going wrong, it is time to celebrate what is going right in your homeschool experience. Does your child excel in a particular area? Do you love what you are doing for science or history? Has one of your children mastered a task such as reading or learning times tables this year. Even in the most difficult situations, there is something to celebrate and be thankful for. Make a list and post it where you can see it.
Spring is coming. Soon, the sun will be shining, flowers will be blooming, the children will be playing outside, and the end of the academic year will be in sight. With God’s help, we can stay faithful in homeschooling and educate our children in both body and spirit.