If you don’t homeschool year round you probably start your school year around August or September like the schools in your area. Even though most homeschoolers have the freedom and flexibility to make their school year as simple as possible, many of us still suffer from homeschool burnout.
Since I began homeschooling in 2008 I’ve come up with many strategies to avoid a stressful homeschool year and prevent homeschool burnout.
Here are 10 ways to avoid a stressful homeschool year.
10 Ways to Avoid a Stressful Homeschool Year
Consider Homeschooling Year Round
I know what you’re thinking. Homeschooling year round sounds like more stress, not less!
Actually, I’ve found it to be much easier than keeping to a 9-month school year. We school for fewer hours per day, fewer days per week, and we take more frequent breaks.
Even though homeschooling year-round doesn’t give me a summer break to look forward to it does make every single day easier because I never feel rushed. In addition, I have numerous breaks to look forward to throughout the year.
You can read more about why we homeschool year round.
Homeschool Fewer Days Per Week
Even if homeschooling year round isn’t appealing to or feasible for you, try homeschooling fewer days per week. You can do this in a couple of ways. Either homeschool Monday-Thursday or, if it works better for you, skip Wednesdays.
You can even use weekends as homeschool days if, for example, your partner works outside of the home during the week and they want to be involved in homeschooling.
Don’t Homeschool All Subjects at Once
When I was in my last year of high school my school changed from 7 class periods a day to 4 block periods a day. This allowed us to finish a course in one semester instead of doing the same course all year. If I recall correctly, the class time didn’t fully double. We simply completed the course faster because we spent more time each day focusing on that course instead of a little time each day on that course and 6 others.
Of course, college was the same way. I only took each course for one semester, not for a full year. We didn’t even have every class every day.
I learned a lot about how to structure our homeschool subjects based on this example.
Instead of doing math, language arts, science, social studies and other subjects like art, music, health, and literature every day all year around, we use a staggered schedule.
You can look back over our past homeschool schedules for examples:
I split our subjects so that we’re doing math and science one day and language arts and social studies the next. This summer we actually dropped social studies and focused on science every day. In the fall, we’ll pick up social studies again and take a break from science.
Stop Giving Grades
I know this one might not work for everyone. You might be required to give grades or to keep a portfolio of your child’s work for either your cover school, your co-op, or to satisfy state laws. But if you have no requirement to give your children grades don’t feel like you have to grade their work.
For us, one of the benefits of homeschooling is that our children can spend as much time on a concept as needed. Essentially, they don’t stop working on a concept until they have achieved mastery. That means, if I graded them, they’d get always all As. Since we aren’t required to submit grades, test scores, or a portfolio, I don’t give my homeschool children grades.
Join a Co-op OR Drop the Co-op
This one is simple. If you want to have some else teach your child certain subjects and you don’t mind teaching a subject or to other children, join a homeschooling co-op. Homeschooling co-ops allow you to share in the work of teaching your children.
However, if the co-op and its requirements have become too much or you want more freedom and flexibility in your homeschool week, don’t hesitate to drop the co-op.
Since I’ve always valued flexibility and freedom over sharing the work, we never joined a co-op. I have homeschool mom friends, however, who love their homeschool co-op. A co-op makes homeschooling easier for them.
Make Over Your Mornings for a Less Stressful Homeschool Day
Smooth, productive homeschool days don’t happen by accident. While I believe the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling is one of its huge advantages, a homeschooling family still needs at least some structure and planning to make the days flow well.
Even if you unschool your children starting the day with a plan for yourself and how you’ll move through the day is vital. Frankly, a great morning begins the night before.
That’s one of the important things you’ll learn in Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course. Now, this course isn’t specifically for homeschooling moms, but instead it’s for ALL moms. You’ll learn how to move past the overwork and the overwhelm and get each day off on the right track for optimal productivity and relationship-building with your family.
When you make over your mornings, you’ll find the clarity and sanity you need to avoid homeschool burnout and have a great homeschool year.
The course lasts 14 days, is completed from the comfort of your home, and is super affordable. Find out more about Make Over Your Mornings. You can even learn how to Make Over Your Evenings and Make Over Your Year.
Have a Daily Quiet Time
This is especially for you introvert moms. If you or your children sometimes feel overwhelmed by the abundance of family togetherness that homeschooling provides, consider having a daily quiet time for your children.
For toddler and preschoolers, this would be their late morning or afternoon nap time. For young children, pre-teens, and teens, this can be their reading or research time if you’d like to use the time for homeschooling purposes.
Allowing children to use this time to do whatever helps them to decompress, rest, and be introspective is best, though. Quiet time teaches extroverted children that they don’t have to be around people all the time in order to be entertained and teaches introverted children to take the time they need for themselves to recharge away from others.
Read more about how I implemented a daily quiet time for my children when they were very young.
Use an Online Curriculum
When you’re homeschooling more than one child or when you need a break from teaching, an online curriculum is a time- and sanity-saver.
Currently, we use Time4Learning. It’s customizable, trackable, and the boys really enjoy it. It’s an affordable way to make sure the boys are getting all of their subjects in without me having to teach at three different grade levels each day.
I’ve outline some other great choices for online homeschool curriculum.
Unschooling uses a child’s organic interests instead of imposing a set curriculum to teach them. With unschooling, you simply follow what your child wants to learn about and allow them to immerse themselves in informal lessons, research, and information about that topic.
If that doesn’t sound like something you’d like to try because it doesn’t seem structured enough, start with relaxed schooling or unschooling just one subject. We unschool science from time to time when the boys’ interests take us in that direction. We take time to learn about various topics that aren’t included in our curriculum.
Of course, this is made easier by the fact that I make my own homeschool curriculum that includes various resources from online learning to workbooks and more. Find out how to create your own homeschool curriculum.
Realize that You’ve Got Time
I know that many homeschool parents feel under pressure to get their children ready for college before they’re 18. I felt that same pressure when I first started homeschooling.
It’s only been in the past couple of years that I completely changed my mind about the necessity of college for my boys. (Find out why I don’t encourage my kids to go to college.) Before that, I felt like I was in a race against the clock to prepare my children for college entrance exams and college-level learning and study habits.
Even if you are insistent that your children attend college or they want careers that require a college degree, you have time. Who says your child has to attend college at 18? What’s wrong with your child being at home, still homeschooling, for a couple of extra years so that they have more time?
If you want to take some of the pressure out of your homeschool day now, start working at a slower pace. Colleges cater to non-traditional students now and they’ll be forced to do so even more in the future with parents like me looking for alternatives to a traditional college education for their children.
Allow Yourself To Let Go of Homeschool Stress
Being a homeschool mom means wearing many hats at once. As teacher and mother, you have the stress of both responsibilities. Fortunately, there is often a lot of freedom in homeschooling if we, as mothers, will allow it.
Instead of putting more responsibilities on yourself, let a few of the unnecessary ones go. You’re already a super hero for taking on the job of educating your children. Make some room in your schedule to read a book, take a bath, or relax in your favorite way on a regular basis.
Your kids need a happy, healthy mom and you deserve to teach them without the risk of homeschool burnout.