Don’t Throw in the Towel!

Frankly, my heart is heavy… weighed down by a certain realization that homeschooling families are quitting – throwing in the towel – mid-year.  This is the worst possible time to stop homeschooling your child and place them into public school.  But it is happening.  Homeschooling parents are tired, discouraged and unfocused.  The dreary weather of mid-winter isn’t helping either.  Kids often don’t get a chance to get outside and work out some of their boundless energy.   Instead, they remain inside, unmotivated, griping at each other and wasting time in front of the TV.

This sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?  But, I am here to say that this doesn’t need to be the case.  We can do better than this.  We can not only survive homeschooling through the rest of the year, BUT we can THRIVE!!  We can give our children a better education than the public schools.  We can promote unity and cooperation between siblings and with parents.  We can have kids that have good attitudes and are self-motivated.  We can develop READERS rather than TV watchers.

Here is some help from someone who is enjoying our 12th year of homeschooling, but who has felt those mid-winter “blahs” almost every year.

Step 1

Memorize this statement, “Everything that is worth doing requires effort.”  Yes, this is true.  Think about it…  What are the things in this life that are worthwhile?  Here is a short list:

  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Bible reading
  • Prayer
  • Eating/cooking healthy
  • Exercise
  • Housekeeping
  • Reconciliation

On the flip side, what are some things that come really easy?  Here is a short list:

  • Fast food
  • TV watching
  • Leaving stuff lying around
  • Sleeping in
  • Surfing the net
  • Fighting

I am not judging any of the things in the second list (frankly, I do them all but in moderation), but I am saying that these are easy things.  They do not require effort and they are not worthwhile.  They do not have lasting effects or long-term benefits.  They are just easy, lazy things.

It is not easy being a parent, but it is worthwhile.  It is not easy to homeschool, but it is worthwhile.  If public school is the wide road, then homeschooling is the narrow road.  Homeschooling parents have taken on an extra burden, something that is often difficult and requires effort, but this burden can bring great joy and rewards.  To you and to your children.

The other day, I took my first spin cycle class (trust me, this is related to the topic – it is my object lesson or visual, if you will).  You know the kind of class where you all get on your bikes and take a ride together, but you do not leave the gym.  Yeah, well, in case you have never taken a class like this before, let me tell you, it’s tough.  At about 20-30 minutes into it, my thighs were screaming and I was ready to quit.  In fact, I looked down and I saw water droplets falling from my face onto the bike.  I thought it was just sweat, but then I realized that I was crying.  That’s bad!  But you know what, I got through that difficult part and the second half of the ride was so much better and much more enjoyable.

So, what does this have to do with homeschooling?  We hit the most difficult part of the year in January and February.  Sometimes, this time of the year can bring tears and a screaming desire to quit.  But, guess what?  It gets better!  How do I know?  Because I have homeschooled through 12 winters and experienced Spring on the backside of each and every one of them.  Halleluia!

Here are 5 tips for getting through the winter doldrums.  Trust me, this stuff works.

1. Pray – pray alone and pray with your kids.  Start and end each day in prayer.  The Lord will sustain you.  Plus, when you pray with your children, you can find out how they want to be prayed for.  You can find out what is difficult for them.  They can pray for each other and they can pray for you.  This is the best way I know to begin each day.

2. Develop routines.  Use a schedule to decide how your day will progress and then stick with it.  Once a schedule is in place, your children can develop routines that can develop into good lifelong habits.  Plus, once something has become routine or habit, you no longer have to tell your children to do what they are supposed to do.  They can simply do what they are supposed to do before school, during school, in the afternoon hours, in the evening.  It becomes second-nature.  (Note – do not become a slave to your schedule; rather let the schedule be your servant.  If it gets too bossy or demanding, change it or veer from it for a time, just to show it who’s boss!)

3. Count on your friends.  Internet friends are great, but nothing can substitute for a good, old fashioned, local friend who is walking the same road as you are.  Like-minded, homeschooling friends can act as a guide for you – showing you the way to go; they might draft for you – so that your burden is lifted; they might push you – when you feel that you simply cannot go on.  I have many friends that have acted in all of these roles for me, during different seasons and phases of homeschooling.  You must let your friends help you through the rough times.  In the same way, you can help them when the going gets tough.

4. Change it up.  Mid-winter is a good time to try a new curriculum, do a unit study, go on a field trip, or throw a historical feast.  When you are feeling the blues or the blahs, throw in something new to wake everyone up.  One of the reasons why we homeschool is so that we can teach differently and learn in new ways.  This is a great time to shake things up a bit by trying something new.  Go ahead, it will be fun and you won’t get behind.  Your children can learn outside of the books for a day, a week, or more and still stay on schedule to graduate to the next grade come June.

5. Get help.  If you are truly at a place where you think that you aren’t going to make it; that you think your kids would be better off in school, then seek help.  Maybe a book will help, maybe time with a friend will do the trick.  Or maybe you need to take a class.  This is exactly why we created Homeschooling ABCs and Upper Level Homeschool.  Check these out before you throw in the towel!

God bless and hang in there.

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 29th, 2010 at 8:11 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Don’t Throw in the Towel!”

Jennifer January 29th, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Thanks for the encouraging words! This is our first year @ home after many years of different private schools. It has been tough getting used to the change, and some days are better than others. However, I know that the Lord has called me to do this, and I’m ready to stick to it for the long haul. It’s a relief to know that even seasoned moms such as yourself struggle with this. :) Thanks again!

Susan, Homeschool WAHM January 29th, 2010 at 10:39 pm

AWESOME post, Terri! It’s good to know that many other homeschool families are struggling with the winter “blahs” and it’s not just my kids that are going crazy being cooped up inside…when they want to be running around outside!

I will take some time to plan things to change the homeschool scenery. I did one thing this week and it really helped! Don’t know why I didn’t think of doing it on a more regular basis!

Lori-Dawn January 29th, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Great post! I think if we can just go into the year KNOWING that halfway through is a fairly typical burnout time, then it’s easy to prepare for it….so many parents jump into homeschooling with a romantacized idea of what it will look like and when it comes out different, they are disappointed and feel like failures. I grew up homeschooled and married someone who was homeschooled as well! and even *I* had the same disillusions! LOL
Another thing I found that helps at this time is to NOT read perky blogs…hehe
I used to compare myself to those full-energy homeschool moms and wonder why I couldn’t be like that too…lol Sometimes it’s just ok, to ignore the world and just keep going as best you can. With Yahweh as our guide, nothing is impossible!

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