Do You Have What it Takes to Homeschool?

Do you have what it takes to homeschool? Of course you do, but let me tell you a little story!

Shadowy Figure - Homeschooling Self-DoubtThere is a shadowy figure that lurks outside of our homeschools.

At the beginning of the year, this figure is so distant, we don’t realize it’s there. But just about this time of year, it starts to make an appearance.

Sometimes it just pokes its head around the corner. Sometimes it creeps unbidden into our lives.

And what is this shadowy figure?  It is self-doubt!

Maybe it has visited your home upon occasion?  I know it has stopped by our home from time to time.

It can make me question my effectiveness as an educator.

 It can sap my motivation.

It can whisper in my ear, “You aren’t good enough.” “There’s a better way to do this.” “Your kids aren’t getting what they need…” or other insidious thoughts.

It can urge me to compare our homeschool to others (which inevitably makes me feel that we’re not living up to some ideal goal).

It can even start to dirty and dull our special haven – our home. It compels me to look for the dust bunnies and paper piles rather than focusing on the warmth and joy in our home!

The feelings of inspiration and optimism we felt at the beginning of the year, have given way to feelings of tedium, monotony, and overwhelm.

How do we drive self-doubt away and build the momentum and magic we felt at the beginning of the year?  Just knowing it is there and knowing that everyone fights against this furtive fiend is enough to start it on the run!

If you are having one of those days/weeks, here are some ways to combat this insecurity and bolster your confidence again.

*Take care of the immediate needs: Make sure that today’s dinner is planned and ready to go.  Take another moment to do a pressing chore. Move the laundry through, make your bed, or get the dishes done.  Nothing feels better than a quick win and a feeling of control!

*Step back and admire the kids for the amazing people they are! When you’re plagued by self-doubt, think about where your kids were a year ago. Taking this step back helps us put things in perspective again. We realize how much they’ve grown and matured.  We can see the many skills they’ve mastered.  Thinking about it this way helps you fret less about what they haven’t done and focus more about the people they are becoming.

*Call a friend and commiserate: Sometimes just reaching out and talking to another homeschooling parent helps you get over the small hurdles.  It makes you feel a little less alone on the journey. Let’s face it, some days/some weeks are plain hard. But sharing the challenges with someone who understands makes it feel more manageable. Not only that, but undoubtedly your friend has some amazing advice and great ideas to share with you. I know that when I reach out to some of my homeschool friends, they pep me up and make me feel better! We can DO this!!! 🙂

*Don’t compare: We all need to remind ourselves of this over and over, don’t we?! Whether it’s hearing about what other homeschooling families are doing, what’s being covered in public school, or glancing over the great projects on Pinterest, it’s easy to think the “grass is greener” somewhere else.  Remember, when we glance at someone else’s day/project/accomplishments we’re comparing our normal (or our worst) to their best, shiny moments.

*Homeschool Atmosphere: Take an honest look at the areas where you homeschool. Is there something you can do to spruce it up and make it more inviting?  Is there anything that needs to be filed and or put away?  Can you put up some twinkle lights to add some color and warmth to that area? Can you set out a beautiful basket of books or art supplies?  Can you rotate through some critical thinking activities or games on a coffee table for the next week or so?

This time of year, the first thing I do when I get up is light the fire in our wood stove. We all love gathering by the fire and starting our day together.  You might not have a fireplace, but can you turn on the heater in that room twenty minutes before the kids come in to make it feel more cozy? Or perhaps you could light a candle?

Woodstove-HomeschoolDenI took this picture this morning as I was writing this post during our writing workshop time.  That’s Boomer snoozing in front of the wood stove! Looks cozy, doesn’t it?!

Energy Slump:  It’s natural to have a slump of energy this time of year.  What can you do to build up your motivation and inspiration again?  Do you need more exercise? Can you read an inspiring, motivating book?  Would it help to add some creative, hands-on activities to get the kids inspired and enthusiastic? (If the answer is “No Way!” then just ignore this suggestion!!!) Can you read a book together that everyone is excited about? Can you cut back on some of your outside obligations for a couple of weeks (ie. don’t schedule in doctor’s appointments, skip a play-date or regular activity)?

*Make sure you have a homeschool plan or routine that is working for your family: Now that school has been going for a while, have you/your family slipped into any bad habits?  Having a predictable routine allows us to move on autopilot even on those days when we feel tired or unmotivated.  Re-assess how things are going and make changes as necessary.

Take a look again at your daily planner. Is it working for you?  Have you abandoned it outright?  Try spending some time brainstorming honestly about what is working and what isn’t for you and for your kids.

My kids have different needs and preferences in how they tackle their daily work.  My youngest really loves have a daily checklist to work from.  She uses the bright colorful planning pages I shared earlier this year (free homeschool planner), whereas my other daughter likes having her checklist in her math notebook (where she does her math problems each day).

Switch up the schedule: If things are getting stale, maybe switching the schedule a bit might work.  Try starting the day with a different subject than you normally do. Try doing certain subjects every other day but for a longer period. (For example, alternate science and history.)  Or, if you’re feeling really inspired, do a “backwards day” starting with dinner and working your way through the day back to breakfast!

Focus on the warmth and affection in your home:

Be kind to yourself. Try to eliminate the negative self-talk.  Be your own advocate!

Be kind to your family. Start and end each day with a smile and a hug. Spend time talking and listening!

Do something really nice for someone outside your family.  It’ll make someone else’s day and will make you feel good too!

Try the dinner plate activity:  Place a heart sticker under the one of your dinner plates.  At dinner time, have everyone randomly pick a plate and take it back to the table.  Announce that it is a special day and we are all going to talk about three wonderful things we’ve noticed about one person in our family.  Do you know who that is?  We’ll be talking about the person who has the heart sticker under their plate!! (Everyone takes a look under their plate.)  This is always a huge hit in our family!  We continue to do this for the entire week until everyone in our family has had a chance to hear special things from the others in our family! (It’s time we do this again because it has been quite a while!!  I’ll let you know how it goes!)

**I have to say that I just loved writing this post!!  The kids and I all sit down together to write each day and have grown to really love this time of our day! 🙂  This morning I was thinking about the series I did a couple of years ago when I spent a lot of time reflecting on teaching… and with today being Halloween, this creepy image of self-doubt came to mind.  Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it! 🙂

Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl

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Do I have what it takes to homeschool - homeschool encouragement

You might enjoy reading this series:

Other general homeschooling posts you might enjoy:

You might also be interested in these free resource guides —  Creating Your Own Homeschool Curriculum. These are some resources I made that might be helpful as you create your own homeschool plans.  These are somewhere between 30 and 50 pages and are FREE to download:

These are FREE 30 to 50+ page resource guides that I put together to help answer some basic questions: What subjects should I teach my 2nd, 4th or 8th grader? Where do I start? How do I know what to teach my kids? These are some of the units and topics our family covered in the middle school years. It might provide a starting point for those of you just starting your homeschool journey and may give you an idea or two if you’ve been at this homeschool thing for a while!

Homeschool Curriculum Kindergarten Grade 1

Homeschool Science Curriculum Grade 2-3

Creating Your Own Homeschool Curriculum Grade 4 - 5

Homeschool Curriculum Grade 6-8


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Happy Homeschooling, everyone!!  ~Liesl

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