What helped me to overcome homeschool burnout

Earlier this year, I was so burnt out chasing my own tail and trying to be the perfect homeschooling parent that I kept falling ill. I hated the pressure of homeschooling “correctly” and just wanted to throw in the towel. My mom was terminally ill and later died, and that, on top of other family crises, finally pushed us to place our daughter in  school for one term.  It was an excruciatingly difficult decision to make, and I kept trying to talk myself out of it – right up to the night before her first day at school. I felt like a massive failure.

While my child was at school, I spent weeks re-thinking our approach to home-education. I had to face my biggest tormentor: my demand for academic excellence.  I realised that I was really running this endless race with invisible competitors, trying to provide the BEST in everything for my child and, of course, it disappointed me when she was less than perfect!  I know, I know…I had the wrong end of the stick!

Finally, I sat down and decided to do a Stephen Covey and start with the end in mind.  Why were we homeschooling anyway?  I re-read my exemption application to remind me. 🙂  Then I began to imagine the kind of adult I wanted my daughter to be, and I wrote it all down in my journal.

With that end in mind, I then asked myself what I would need to do during these precious few years of homeschooling, to help her move in the direction of the kind of adult I wanted her to become.  This helped me to focus on what was really important and essential in our home school.  Did she really need to master geometry or do mental sums at the speed of light?  Did she really need to be able to create a perfect taxonomy, or diagram a complex sentence correctly on the first go?  Was it really vital that she complete reading ALL the children’s classics before she turned 15?

NO!  I was making a rod for my own back! Not to mention hers!!! What I really wanted was to raise a kind, responsible child of good character who loved to learn and knew how to find the answers to questions she was curious about.  After all, I reasoned, she had the rest of her life in which to learn whatever it was she wanted to learn! She had the rest of her life to read the classics and to address the Great Questions! 🙂

My desire is to give her a good solid foundation. Hodding Carter said, “There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.”  That’s what I want to give my child, and it will only be possible if we simplify our approach to homeschooling and bring the joy back. 🙂

After engaging in a lot of research and  prayer, I finally decided to adopt the  Moore Formula formulated by the late home education pioneer, Dr. Raymond Moore. (http://www.moorefoundation.com/)  His three-pronged approach consists of  academics, manual or entrepreneurial work, and home and/or  community service.  I like it because it’s simple and outward-looking.  It goes beyond information and knowledge to contribution and service.

Today, my daughter and I are both enjoying our journey of learning together .  In fact, she recently asked if I could homeschool her all the way to university level!  Hmmmm…I don’t know about that!!! 🙂  Let’s take it one step at a time, I say… smiling.