9 Best Homeschooling Tips to Avoid Homeschool Burnout
Homeschooling is no joke. It isn’t an easy job, and not everyone who decides to homeschool has a teaching background. But it also doesn’t have to be hard.
I remember being so stressed waking up every morning because I knew what was ahead – a disorganized day of trying to help my kids tackle their assignments in 100 different subjects (Okay, maybe not 100, but it sure seemed like it.) on top of all of my other daily mama duties.
It seemed impossible to get everything done. There was simply not enough time in our schedule to do ELA, math, science, social studies, and art every day plus cook, clean, do laundry and try to be sane by the end of the day. I was GOING CRAZY! And for an obvious reason… I was doing way too much. It wasn’t necessary to do so much every day. Not only was I stressed out, but my kids were too! (They did nothing but complain, complain, complain.) I was making things hard, boring, and “unfun”, and it didn’t have to be that way.
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But, what makes homeschooling “hard”?
When we try to do too much in too little time, we create unnecessary stress that is unhealthy for everyone. And if we continue in this pattern, sooner than later, we will become burned out. There is nothing worse than being burned out as a homeschooling parent because you’re with your kids all the time. More than likely, you will become more angry, anxious, impatient, unhappy, and unpleasant to be around. And that becomes toxic very quickly.
Three Common Misconceptions that Make Homeschooling “Hard”
“I have to wake up at 7 o’clock every day… that’s too early.” Unless your homeschool is in the Ivy Leagues, there’s no reason why you have to wake up super early. You don’t even need to homeschool formally every day. Remember, you create your own schedule. You do what works for your family. Do you, boo!
“My kids will be home all day eating up all the groceries.” While you may see a slight increase in your grocery bill due to feeding your kids an extra meal or two during the week (especially if you’re transitioning from public school), it doesn’t mean you will be spending hundreds of dollars more. The best way to combat the “walking eaters” is to simply plan in advance.
I love to fix my kid’s snacks in the mornings in their own little lunch boxes so they can grab it when it’s snack time. They do not “walk and eat” all day. Nope. I don’t allow it. But I also make sure these snacks are nutritious and filling instead of quick, pre-packaged snacks that are usually filled with sugar and other additives I can’t pronounce.
So in essence, plan their meals, including small snacks. Portion them out and put them in some cute lunch boxes. (Fun tip: take them to the store and let them pick out their own lunch boxes. This will make snack time more fun and anticipated!)
“I have to teach (insert subject) and I hate teaching (insert subject).” I’m going to be honest, you may find yourself having to review a subject (like math or reading) with your child that you don’t particularly favor because of your own personal experiences with it. Let’s be real – don’t ruin your child’s viewpoint on the subject due to your own unpleasant experiences with it. Believe me, I’ve had to tell myself this hundreds of times because I do not like math nor teaching math! But I don’t want my child to not like it just because I don’t. That’s not fair to them.
There are many great programs out there that help you teach a subject or concept in a way that’s not hard for you to explain or guide your child through. You can even supplement these less favorite subjects by enrolling your child in an online group class or with a private tutor. There are also hundreds of free YouTube videos out there that you can use to help be your child’s “teacher” for specific topics you don’t like teaching. There’s usually an alternative, so don’t let homeschooling deter you because of this.
What is Doing “too much”?
So I mentioned earlier that when we try to do too much, we stress out. But let me elaborate on what “too much” looks like for homeschoolers:
- Creating an unrealistic homeschool schedule
- It is so easy to want the best for your child’s learning, but you’ve got to be reasonable with how you schedule these activities, or else you will find yourself stressed trying to keep up with it. This is what I do: our homeschooling day takes priority over everything. That means if there is anything else that is going on that doesn’t directly correlate with homeschooling activities, I try to schedule it around our homeschool day (e.g. doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, etc).
- You also have to remember to be flexible because there are times that I’m not able to schedule their doctor’s appointment outside of homeschool time and so we must go doing homeschool time. As much as I don’t like doing this, it happens every now and then. But that’s okay! I will either complete homeschooling activities we missed when we get back or I’ll just move everything to the next day. It’s that simple.
- Planning big projects that your kids aren’t really into
- Pinterest is full of project ideas for kids, but I recommend you get your child’s opinion on what projects they would like to do or you can plan projects based on what they continue to show an interest in (e.g. You see they love talking and watching videos about planets so you plan a project where they can build a 3D solar system.)
- If you let your children be involved in project planning, you will get more helping and willing hands when it comes to preparing what you need to complete it. It then becomes this full out project where they help you choose and gather materials and set up the workspace. This is an ENTIRE learning experience that will allow them to practice leadership, math, reading, and science skills all in ONE project.
- Over planning your curriculum for the year
- The overzealous homeschool parent can attest to this for sure (currently holding my hand up high). I have been known to buy book after book after book simply because of how GREAT the curriculum looks and flows, even though I already have a very similar book that covers the same content and concepts. Don’t do this! Not only will you end up with tons of book overflow, but you will end up realizing that you don’t even have enough time to complete all of them.
- Keep your curriculum choices simple. You don’t need several different grammar books or math books for one child. Choose one that is complete with what they need to learn for that school year and stick with that one. You can always extend lessons where you see necessary throughout the school year.
- Trying to do every subject in one day
- Again, this was me. I was trying to imitate what my children would experience in an actual public school, but this was extremely unrealistic and highly unnecessary. I learned to put the main focus on ELA and math daily. The other subjects like social studies, geography, art, science, and even music lessons could be done once or twice a week. When I adopted this strategy, I felt a HUGE burden lift from my shoulders. I felt so much freer and less stressed and bogged down. It also became easier to plan our homeschooling days and my kids began to look forward to certain days of the week when we were doing their favorite subjects like science or art.
- Never taking a break
- Best believe… when the holiday breaks roll around, I’m like a bird that escaped its cage. Yaasss! Break pleassse. We ALL need a break at some point, so don’t feel guilty when it’s time to take one. And don’t feel guilty if you’re taking a break when most kids aren’t. SO WHAT! If you need a break. Take your break. Breaks are so important because these breaks can really help you escape that burned out mode. But even throughout your breaks, I recommend remembering your goals and your WHY. This will help you regroup, recollect, and reel it back in when break time is over… for now (wink).
- Being hard on yourself for not doing things like other homeschooling families
- This. One. As humans, it’s so common for us to compare ourselves to others. Not only is this distracting, but it’s so unhealthy. There are many homeschooling YouTubers who document their journeys. I have, in fact, compared the way I do things to the way they do things. But I have to remember that while they are giving great tips on homeschooling, my situation will still vary simply because my family is not the same and we have different lives, circumstances, etc.
- So it’s okay to incorporate tips that will help you get more organized and less stressed, but it’s also okay if your homeschool room is not as bright and lovely as theirs. Be content in what you have and only strive for more if it will add goodness and wholeness to your family’s homeschooling journey.
- Not allowing your kids time to express their creativity because you don’t want to clean up “their mess”
- This is a big one for me because my kids love art (as most kids do), but I do not! I have never really liked art. I’ve never been “good” at it, but that doesn’t mean I have to rain on their parade when they want to do an art project. I also get really anxious when I see little pieces of cut-up paper everywhere and glue stuck to places it shouldn’t be. (I know, I know. Chill, Tessa) But I’m serious. It’s really bad.
- But what I have realized is that when I do bite the bullet and allow them to pull out their own art materials to create their own masterpieces, they are truly in a happy place. They love to see and hang up their finished product. They are very proud of what they did WITHOUT my help. So let your child shine in this independence. It may get messy, but the process and their experience make the mess worth cleaning up.
9 Homeschooling Tips to Avoid Homeschool Burnout
So in a nutshell, here are the tips I recommend you try out for yourself. Most of them correlate with some of what I’ve already said. Grab a pen and pad and take some notes. I want you to leave away from this post more leveled than when you came.
- Homeschooling Tip 1: Be flexible and forgiving in your homeschool routine
- Whenever you choose to complete your homeschooling time, make sure you leave wiggle room for unexpected appointments and events.
- Be prepared to reschedule activities for another day if you are interrupted by an unexpected event.
- Don’t feel guilty if you have to “skip” a day because of so many things going on that day.
- Don’t feel guilty if your kids only get through half a homeschool day because you had to call it quits for their good or your own.
- Homeschooling Tip 2: Let your kids give you ideas for activities and projects
- Children enjoy being able to make their own choices, and they should be able to make some choices on their own. If you want fresh ideas of what to do with your kids, just ask them!
- Following the interests of your child can help you plan some activities easily instead of trying to come up with ideas on your own or spend hours researching.
- These projects can last for weeks or a few days. However long they are interested in it is however long you can spend on the project. You can even incorporate reading, writing, and math activities within the project plan to make it more well rounded.
- Homeschooling Tip 3: Keep your curriculum simple
- Avoid overthinking your curriculum plan for your children. Don’t worry about not covering this or not covering that when you’re first getting started. And don’t go out buying book after book after book. Research and make a plan based on your child’s age, development, and learning goals.
- You can build your curriculum mainly focusing on ELA (reading, writing, phonics, comprehension) and math, with a sprinkle of social studies, science, and other extracurricular activities that you choose or your children choose.
- To gain a general idea of what skills your child should learn in their specific grade level, check out the specific standards from your state’s department of education. This can help you build a curriculum and stay on track during the school year. But remember these general standards may not take your child’s unique development into consideration. Every. Child. Is. Unique.
- If you want to find more curriculum choices, check out my post about the best curriculum choices for beginning homeschoolers– even if you’re not a beginner!
- Homeschooling Tip 4: Focus on a small group of subjects each day
- Don’t try to do everything in one day. Focus on a little bit of ELA and math every day and pick and choose which days you will cover social studies, science, art, and all the other subjects that apply to your homeschool curriculum
- For example, in our homeschool, ELA and math is every day. Our main Spanish lesson is on Mondays, but we review and practice for about 15 minutes daily. Social Studies/Geography/History is on Tuesdays. Science is on Wednesdays. Piano is on Thursdays. Art is on Fridays. These subjects can be limited to 20-30 minute sessions if you want. You don’t have to spend 1.5 hours on social studies. Ew! LOL (No offense to history lovers.)
- Homeschooling Tip 5: Take a break
- When you feel overly stressed, step back, and take a break. Don’t wait until you’ve become so stressed that you’re yelling and shutting down on the inside. If it’s that bad, then you’ve waited too long.
- We are human. We are not invincible and sometimes we’ve got to break the normal routine for some off time to regain and replenish our strength.
- Our children need breaks too. School ain’t easy. We’ve been through it. And they are learning A LOT. If you have to, take a day where they choose what activities they want to do, and you just coast your way through it by supporting them in their choices.
- Homeschooling Tip 6: Be kind to yourself
- Some days will seem as if everything is as perfect as perfect can get. The kids aren’t arguing. They put the tops back on their markers without you telling them. They didn’t lose their eraser 100 times in 5 minutes. Yea, you know what I’m talking about.
- Other days will be so chaotic that you can’t even think straight (e.g. Putting the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the fridge… Don’t act like you’ve never done it!)
- You’ve got to remember that this is not a sprint. But it’s a long-winded, knee-aching, stomach cramping, “is it over yet?” marathon. Speak life into your life every day with positive words and affirmations that will uplift you. Sometimes I’ve got to back away and spend some time with my Savior to receive new strength and new mercies or I’ll explode and say things I’ll regret later.
- Homeschooling Tip 7: Don’t compare yourself to others
- I think we have all compared ourselves to someone else at one point or another. It’s so easy to look at someone on the outside and feel like we are missing out, even though we have no idea what that individual may be dealing with within themselves or in their lives. When it comes to homeschooling, I, personally, have seen what other homeschoolers were doing that I wish I had the money to do. And I felt like my kids were missing out because they couldn’t do those things.
- Remember that memorable experiences can be created by simply doing things together as a family. Your family will not look like someone else’s and that’s okay. Your homeschool will not look like someone else’s – that’s okay. You may feel like your friend is a better teacher than you because she or he is more organized – stop making those comparisons!
- If you want to do better where you see is necessary for you and your family’s growth, let that be your motivation, rather than being motivated because you want to be like someone else or to have what someone else has.
- Homeschooling Tip 8: Join an uplifting homeschool group
- It is hard to find someone to look up to in today’s world. I can’t lie. But when you do, it is such a relief to be able to confide in someone who is on this homeschooling journey just like you. They understand your struggles because they’ve been there. They can give you advice if they’ve been there. They can help you get through tough times because they’ve been there.
- I encourage you to check your local community for any homeschooling groups you can join for encouragement and even planned activities for your kids. To be around like-minded people who share your struggle is very encouraging and can help push you past a trying season.
- And lastly, Homeschooling Tip 9: Sign your kids up for some online classes to add some variety and give you a breather
- Finally, it’s okay if you want to pay for a 30-minute class here and there to give your kids a different learning experience. Your kids will more than likely enjoy doing something different from time to time, especially if it’s a class that suits their interests.
- These online classes can also lessen the curriculum burden for you in certain subjects you would like for them to learn about, but you’re not exactly good at teaching.
- I have done this many times and my kids have always loved it! We’ve taken art, science, Spanish, and piano classes online. These classes have really enriched their learning experiences at home, and it also helps relieve some stress from my mind. If you’re looking for affordable online classes for your kids ages 3-18, I recommend Outschool. I absolutely LOVE Outschool because of the variety of classes offered on their platform through thousands of teachers. Art, social studies, science, history, random dance classes, math, reading, you name it. There’s a lot to choose from and many of these classes cost under $10 per class per child for a 30-minute class. So if you’re interested in adding some variety to your kid’s homeschool schedule, I recommend you sign them up for a class on Outschool, and you can get $20 toward your child’s first class on Outschool! So you really have nothing to lose. Go ahead, sign up!
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If you’re still reading, it’s because you really have a desire to give your kids the best homeschool experience, but you also want to learn how to do it in a way that won’t be so stressful for you. I’ve been there, and I still have my moments… every week. Doesn’t it feel good to know that you’re not the only one who struggles and juggles? It does to me, and that’s what I’m here for.
If these homeschooling tips have encouraged, inspired, and motivated you, leave a comment below to let me know. I would love to hear about how you have overcome homeschooling challenges in the past and how you continue to overcome them today. You should also share this post with someone else you know who needs it. Share the knowledge. Share the love.
And let’s continue to build a strong community of homeschoolers and educators who support each other. I’m here for you. If you would like to contact me, you can reach me at email@example.com.