When Your Homeschool Day Doesn’t Work Out
Welcome to my blog about homeschooling and parenting! I am so glad you found me here and I am excited to start this journey with you.
As we get to know each other (you can read more about me here), I think it’s important you understand that I’m being authentic with you here on Savvy Schooling. Which is why this, my first post, is going to be about a not-so-successful homeschool day.
Why, you ask?
Well first, I want you to trust me and trust that the things I post about are real, tried, and true. And I think the best way to begin that kind of trust is to show you not just when things are going well but also when they don’t go so well. Because that’s real life!
Second, I have found that I usually learn the most useful lessons after having a difficult and/or unsuccessful experience. And I want you to benefit from those fall-flat-on-my-face moments! I’m not going to call them failures (even though they may feel that way) because I learned something. As long as we keep learning and growing, we’re not failing!
So even though this is my very first post, I’m going to share with you about my difficult day and what I learned from it.
It started out innocently enough. It was our next school day on the schedule. Even though Ace wasn’t feeling 100% (turns out he was in the beginning stages of what I call a plague that tormented our family for over 3 weeks), I decided to push through. A few minutes into the lesson, Dash started getting fussy and Ace started balking at everything. As I sat there trying to pacify Dash while I attempted to do something meaningful with Ace, my already stretched-thin patience began to dwindle, and dwindle fast. Pretty soon, we were on the cusp of an all-out battle. My frustration was mounting and Ace’s interest was all but gone. But I had a schedule! Ace needed school! I had to get this done, right?? WRONG. I did eventually give up before I checked off all our lessons (thank goodness) but I’m pretty sure Ace didn’t learn anything. And I know I walked away from that feeling like I never wanted to homeschool. Ever again.
After I gave myself some space (and let Ace watch some TV to decompress), I realized I had an opportunity to learn from this harrowing experience so that I had a chance of NEVER repeating it again.
- Try not to go into teaching with little to no patience reserves. I know this sometimes feels nearly impossible, especially when you have a young child or children in very different developmental stages (like me with my infant and elementary schooler) but it’s so important. This particular lesson can be really hard to deal with because it’s all about self-awareness. Sometimes we are the reason we need to walk away from a tough situation. Being able to recognize when you have hit your limit is key to stopping a struggle before it begins.
- Don’t think you can just wing it through your lessons when you’re just starting a new curriculum. Especially when patience reserves are depleted! This will only lead to frustration as you are trying to familiarize yourself with the lesson and your child is starting to get bored waiting for you. Make sure you are prepared for your lessons, even if that means just skimming each one before officially starting your school day.
- Don’t push through lessons just for the sake of crossing them off your list. This is especially important when you can tell that your child is struggling with focus and motivation. When Ace gets like this, it feels like trying to push a car with it’s emergency brake on…impossible.
- Sometimes it’s okay to just walk away. Some days are just going to be a wash. You may decide to take an impromptu field trip to the zoo or go on a nature walk to still get some learning in. Or you might just need to scrap the whole thing. Close the books and let your kid run off and play or (gasp!) watch TV.
- Don’t beat yourself up!! This is why you’re homeschooling after all, right? So you can recognize when it’s just not a good day or a good time. There’s always tomorrow. A fresh perspective or an attitude change may be all you or your child needs.
- Learning is never going to be successful when you have to force it. There is a difference between trucking through a difficult point in a subject and feeling like every single thing you try to do is like scaling Mount Everest. When school becomes a battle of wills, I’m never going to get through to Ace and we’ll both just end up exhausted (like we did today). That being said, if every day is a battle, see my post on taking the struggle out of school.
The tricky thing about being a homeschool teacher is that you’re the parent as well. This means that you don’t have the luxury of stepping away from the parent role when you put on your teaching hat. And you don’t get a break from the battles you’re dealing with in everyday life because they tend to bleed into your schooling moments. Don’t get discouraged…just be aware and try to stop a potential downward spiral before it begins.
I’m a work in progress on this…I know I always will be. But I’m going to keep on trying!
By the way, if these lessons resonated with you, download my handy PDF flyer with them listed out.
I have found that I often forget all the points after I’m done reading an article like this. You can print my PDF and put it in your homeschool planner or on your bulletin board or calendar to help you. Plus, you can take notes on it to help customize it to your personal homeschool environment!