You awake before dawn, shower and put on make-up, and have a hot breakfast (with protein) ready for your children by the time they come downstairs. After they all dutifully clean up the table, you pull out the How To Teach Your Baby to Read curriculum for the baby, and put her on a crawling track to increase her brain development. You then set up your older children with a tailor-made History program which addresses each of their learning styles, and you help your preschooler complete letter lacing cards. Interspersed throughout the morning, you incorporate physical activity in your learning activities, and have the kids make homemade muffins (on their own) to take to an elderly neighbor. After thoroughly covering each academic subject, using drama, music, and art as part of your teaching approach, you bring all of the kids into the kitchen for a science experiment (the materials for which you purchased a month ago). Following academics, you have the children work on their special "allowance-earning" chores, and review the family financial management plan for them to save the first 30% of the money they earn, for the future.
Sound like your homeschool?
As crazy as it may seem, that is just what many of us homeschool moms think is happening in everybody else’s home. Meanwhile, we are really barely able to wake up because the baby was up 14 times the night before, throwing together last night’s dinner leftovers for a quick breakfast, skipping History today because we just don’t feel like doing it, not sure if this English curriculum is the right thing at all (but using it anyway because of not having the money to buy something else right now), and praying at night that all of our work on character development somehow “takes” and causes Johnny to be kinder to his sister.
The truth is that no matter how conscientious, intelligent, committed and disciplined you are, there will be times in your homeschooling when you just feel, well, uninspired. Where you're tired of educating, discouraged by your children's progress, certain you're not doing a good enough job, completely out of creative ideas, bored, or just plain frustrated. The good news? Every other homeschooler feels that at some point as well. To be responsible for the education and well-being of your children, day in and day out, can be exhausting and overwhelming. You get very little (if any) feedback on how you are doing, you don’t have a simple or easy measurement for success, you don’t receive immediate reinforcement for your efforts, you certainly don’t get paid for it (in fact, you have to spend money to accomplish it), you never get a substitute, and hardly anyone really even knows (or identifies with) how you are spending every bit of your energy and effort. Rather than throwing in the towel, take a step back and try some of these ideas to get yourself (and your home school) back on track:
- Subscribe to a homeschool magazine. Publications like Homeschooling Today, The Old Schoolhouse, Home School Enrichment, and Practical Homeschooling provide advice, ideas, support, and encouragement for homeschoolers. Reading how other families “do school”, and learning about creative approaches and curricula can help you gain perspective and get motivated.
- Visit a homeschooling friend. Check out her materials. Watch how she does a homeschool day. Get advice and share concerns. Not letting yourself become isolated is a key to being able to homeschool effectively, and no one can help homeschoolers become inspired like other homeschoolers.
- Take a break. Sometimes the best way to get reinvigorated is to simply step away from educating for a bit. Fortunately, because of the flexibility to school all year round, and to complete more academics in less time, you can take a break periodically to go on a vacation, set up a field trip, or just relax together as a family. Often inspiration can come from stepping back and gaining perspective. Remember, homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Visit an educational store. Even if you don’t purchase anything, spending some time in a teacher’s store or educational supply (without children, of course), can be just the thing to get your creative juices flowing. Take the time to look through different curricula, investigate the teacher helps, and check out the manipulatives. Not only can you get some great ideas, but you can put together a wish list for future holidays, birthdays, and other gift-receiving opportunities!
- Join a homeschool organization. Check out TheHomeSchoolMom's local resources to find a homeschool groups by state. Joining a local group can help you feel supported and encouraged, while also giving you a network for excellent resources for your children (such as educational classes and extra-curricular activities).
- Read a homeschooling book. Check out The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas by Linda Dobson; 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy; Yes, They’re All Ours by Rick Boyer; Homeschooling With TLC in the Elementary Grades by Tamara L. Chilver; or The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer for all sorts of ideas to reinvigorate your homeschool excitement. Sometimes all it takes is a good book to give you the encouragement you need to keep going.
- Order a homeschool catalog. Sign up for free to receive catalogs from homeschool stores. Some excellent options: Rainbow Resource, Winter Promise, Sonlight, Veritas Press, and Beautiful Feet Books. Thumbing through a catalog of homeschool resources can do wonders for igniting your excitement about home education!
- Attend a homeschool workshop or seminar. Many state organizations offer local seminars on a variety of topics of interest to homeschooling parents, as do organizations like Classical Conversations. There are also an abundance of online offerings, such as Homefire's Homeschool Your Teen seminar and BJU Press' CHART seminars (free homeschool seminars). These programs not only offer resources and information that can inspire, but help homeschooling parents connect with other homeschoolers.
- Attend a homeschool convention. If there is a surefire way to reignite your inspiration for homeschooling, this is it! Homeschool conventions offer workshops on homeschooling topics, parenting helps, new and used resources, support, and exposure to many other homeschoolers. For example, the 4 regional conventions sponsored by Great Homeschool Conventions feature more than 225 workshops, hundreds of booths of resources, and great programs for the kids! Homeschoolers can actually get their hands on curricula, and see demonstrations by vendors of how to use their resources most effectively. Attending a homeschool convention can be a life changing event; it is an almost guaranteed way to generate excitement, passion, and inspiration for the journey of home education.
Most importantly, remember that you are not the only uninspired homeschool mom. And that no one homeschools perfectly. And that you, the one who loves your children the most, and is invested in their well-being more than anyone else, are the perfect person to give your children what they need to be successful. It is not intelligence, or education, or creativity, or perfection that makes a great homeschooler; it is commitment. So try some of these ideas so you can not only be inspired yourself, but can inspire those wonderful persons which are entrusted into your care.