It's the end of January and you know what that means?! For homeschoolers January usually marks the middle of a long school year and the greatest opportunity to be hit by burn-out. Are you feeling the itch to register your kids for public school? Does the thought of grading one more math paper, cleaning up one more art project, or listening to your kids fight because they are trapped inside make you want to scream? You may be suffering the symptoms of Homeschool Burn-Out. Instead of throwing in the towel use this handy little coping list to re-evaluate, re-fuel and and re-inspire your homeschool year.
- Pray, pray, pray: Re-fuel your spiritual life and re-direct your purpose through regular prayer and meditation. Remember your original passion for homeschooling your children. Did you write it down formally? If not, do that now. Ask God to light your fire for teaching your children once again.
- Talk to Like-minded Homeschoolers: If not already planned, schedule a "Mom's Night Out" for your homeschooling friends and chat it up. There is a reason most schools have a teacher's lounge and teacher's conferences and homeschool teachers need the same consideration. Remember you have a career at home and approach it with the same thoughtful planning and consideration. Homeschool teachers are great at networking and sharing fresh ideas; make good use of these resources. Seek out a virtual support group at Yahoo groups. “Homescool Support Group” and “NEOCHE” (North East Ohio Christian Home Educators) are both Yahoo social groups of homeschooling parents in Northeast Ohio. Fresh ideas, field trips and new friends to connect with are only an email away with a Yahoo group.
- Schedule a field trip! Getting out of the house, especially in times of dreadful weather, does wonders for everyone. Spend a day on the road visiting the library, local art museum, cafes, etc. Use this opportunity to teach your kids local history or the benefits of community living. Play entertaining music or books on tape in the car secured from the local library to energize and bond restless, weary travelers along the journey.
- Host a Homeschool Game Day: Take a break from your daily routine to play board games with the kids. Stay in your pajamas all day and focus on healthy educational fun. Find some jokes on the Internet and take turns being stand up comedians in between game sessions. Order in dinner and lunch so no one has to work this day.
- Start a scrapbook, photo slideshow, etc. of your school year: Sometimes homeschoolers feel discouraged because they look around at their familiar surroundings and feel nothing much has been accomplished. Take the time to evaluate your year by organizing projects, photos and memories from the first half. Involve your kids and ask them what they are most proud of. Record an interview of each child and make note of their growth and your hard work. Relatively inexpensive and easy to create digital photo books can be made at www.snapfish.com or www.shutterfly.com.
- Plan your summer vacation: Use the calendar to count down the weeks left of school. Create a paper chain of days to mark the time or chart to check off the days until school ends. Choose your summer vacation destination and book it! Having your eye on the goal will make it easier to trudge through the middle.
- Plan your next school year: Talk with other homeschool teachers, read homeschool curriculum catalogs, visit curriculum review blogs, and start planning for tomorrow. Fresh ideas and acknowledging your child's growth will inspire you to keep moving forward.
- Take Ten: Take ten days or two school weeks to study a brand new subject with your kids. If you were considering starting foreign language study or human anatomy next school year use this time to test market a curriculum. Fresh subjects, new books and projects remind us of new beginnings and will do wonders to crush burn out feelings. You will also be able to check off two weeks of your child's next school year!
- Plan an imagination day: Spend the day reading fiction, watching high quality movies or making crafts you never seem to have time for. Educational entertainment breeds healthy minds, revived spirits and wonderful family memories. Take lots of photos to capture the joy.
Schedule a weekend getaway for Mom and Dad. Let's face it....homeschooling is hard and long. It is a journey of a thousand little steps and homeschool teachers' paychecks are small. Take some time to remember who you are outside your home and children and remind yourself the journey is worth the cost.