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Is Your Homeschool Hampered by Your “Addiction”?

When I first started homeschooling 14 years ago, I developed a number of addictions. Not the life-threatening or dangerous to society ones, mind you. They appeared innocent enough, you might say even helpful, but in the long run they began to hamper my efforts. “Hello, my name is Pat, and I’m a homeschool addict” (“Hello, Pat!”) Now, don’t laugh – some of you already know what I mean. I became a free catalog addict, a homeschool magazine addict. I scoured the library and used book stores for “how to” books. I stayed glued to the internet (basic and lean as it was in those days) for resources, free worksheets, curriculum reviews. I ordered samples and accumulated portions of new curricula. I rationalized it by convincing myself that I was on a learning curve as well; that I was building a library; that I could stop anytime! The mounting stacks and piles and my bulging file cabinet was just a sign that I needed more shelves and storage, right? But late one night as I passed by the mirror in my room and looked into bloodshot eyes, the realization finally dawned on me – yes, I was addicted.

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Well, I had to get it under control at least! There’s a phrase I heard recently that describes this phenomenon perfectly: appetite without activity. It perfectly described what I was experiencing, and what it causes is equally descriptive of what happened to me! Although the context in which I heard this phrase was spiritual (and I know you can apply it to health as well), what occurred in our homeschool was a veritable “freeze” in productive activity. I had so much information I didn’t know what to do with it all! I’d start the kids on one thing, and if I got the least bit of resistance, I’d switch. Don’t like worksheets? Let’s do a unit study! Too much activity there? Ok, back to a workbook. How about a pre-packaged curriculum? And don’t get me started on the gazillion resources to teach math that are available! My poor kids were going crazy – I, on the other hand, was already there.

I guess the beginning of my recovery occurred when I was talking to a good friend and mentor of mine, who had been homeschooling her 8 kids “forever”. I asked her how she chose materials for her brood. We talked a little about learning styles, and then she said to me “You know, there’s lots of good stuff out there; but don’t try it all at the expense of what’s best.” She wasn’t talking about resources, she was talking about me, my time, my presence in our children’s lives.

In the final analysis, it almost doesn’t matter what you use to homeschool your kids. And, truth be told, if you’re in this for the long haul, what you need will come to you. I could tell you tons of stories of how that played out while homeschooling our 2 oldest through high school – I could never have planned it out better! Find and stay connected to a good support group, and check your community for opportunities for your children. But whatever you use and whatever you do, do it with them to whatever extent possible. I use a workbook for my 3rd grade son’s math, but we always sit down to start it together. We review concepts, pull together a quick manipulative or 2 to get the idea across if need be, and then he’s on his own. We go to the Y for PE – together; watch videos and read historical fiction and make timelines for History – together; go to the library – together. get the picture?!

Here are 5 simple steps you can take (in no particular order) to break your addiction and get your school moving again.

  • Go outside with the kids! Take a walk, jump on the trampoline, plant (or weed) the garden. Just get moving and give yourself and your kids a break!
  • Ask the kids to pick out their favorite book and read to them or listen to them read. There’s nothing like snuggling on the couch with your kiddos around, reading something together, to bring you back to reality.
  • Call or – better yet – go visit a friend. Bring the kids – or not. And if it’s a homeschooling friend, you’re allowed to “talk shop” if need be. The point is to get a change of scenery.
  • Do something non-homeschool related! I know that sounds extreme, but I promise you’ll enjoy it. Even if it’s to grab a cup of coffee with a friend or neighbor, or meet your hubby for lunch.  This time, however, homeschool topics are not allowed.
  • Check out Is Your Homeschool Hampered by Your “Addiction”? – Part 2 with some more tips and suggestions!

Homeschooling can provide a wonderful education for your kids and provide ample opportunities for your family to grow and learn together – as long as you keep on moving on a productive and healthy path!!

Is Your Homeschool Hampered by Your Addiction – Part 2 »

Pat Fenner offers encouragement to homeschoolers at For monthly doses of encouragement, inspiration and ideas, sign up for her free newsletter “Sparks for the Flame”.

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