I Quit Homeschooling Once ~ Written by Kara S. Anderson
A note from Jamie: After writing here on Simple Homeschool for several years, Kara has decided to step down to focus on her health this year.
I know so many of us have been blessed by her comforting voice, so I wanted to share this repost and invite you to send a bit of light her way by clicking here to leave a comment of encouragement or by helping with her unexpected medical bills here–thank you all for being so generous!!
I quit homeschooling once.
I remember the day actually – it was two houses ago now, and I was pacing in my living room. I had my sleeping 1-year-old held to my chest in a baby sling, and it was cold, because it was December and that drafty Victorian was always chilly.
We had started in September after a year of church preschool. Preschool had been rocky because my son didn’t like to sit on the line. It was a whole thing – the teacher kept talking to me after class, and I wasn’t sure what to do, but I was gradually realizing that the school wasn’t a good fit for my precocious boy.
Would you prefer to listen to this post?
So we decided to try homeschooling. I spent the summer reading books and getting our little home classroom ready.
We started off strong – perhaps too strong. I realize now that I had an even mixture of zeal and terror.
My son, age 4, had shown a casual interest in knights and castles, and so I read the kids Robin Hood. (I mean, I tried to read the kids Robin Hood – they were 1 and 4 and the book was an inch thick and didn’t have one picture – not even on the cover).
We made paper because paper was invented in Medieval Times.
And we planned out a huge Medieval feast. We ate with the lights off.
At the same time, I also tried to follow a book curriculum, and tried to practice Waldorf methodology like my life depended on it.
Is it any wonder that I burned out before Christmas?
I had jumped in a little too far. I was trying to do homeschool so fully, so completely, when that half-year could have been spent reading, playing and not trying to cram 1,000 years of history into 4 months.
I had such relief when the little Montessori-esque preschool accepted my son.
We actually really liked the Montessori school. It had a tree growing in its library. My son loved “Math Mat Time” and music class.
But the school told us that the next year, they wanted to move our 4-year-old into the 6- to 9-year-old classroom because he was an early reader.
We still had another child to consider – and full-days in their grade school were considerably more expensive than the preschool had been.
And so, we decided to try homeschooling one more time. And that time, it stuck.
We just entered out 12th year, and although I’ve experienced plenty of worry and doubt, I’ve never considered quitting again.
So what changed?
I think I was very lucky that I burned out early. The stakes were still pretty low. Even when we started again, I could reason that it was “just” Kindergarten.
But more than that, I realized that if we were in this for the long haul, we had to start treating it like a marathon, and not a race.
I had to pace myself, and stop for (water) breaks, and I had to take a bit more control over how we homeschooled.
When we first started, I used a method that made me feel bad ALL THE TIME.
But when I decided to take the parts of that philosophy that worked for us, and leave the rest behind, I found a new freedom.
Seeing my people
I also decided that the most important part of our homeschool experience was the relationships.
Nothing worked when I pushed. I’m a highly-sensitive introvert, and an Enneagram 9 – that means that pushing is entirely against my nature.
I needed to factor in every person who lived in our house, because home and homeschool are not separate. I had to make sure I never again put the dogma ahead of my people.
And I decided that if we were going to thrive, I had to quit seeing the Internet as a massive homeschool assignment.
There are so many wonderful ideas out there – but we need to keep them in their place. Ideas are great, but if we’re going to stay sane, we have to pick and choose. We have to be homeschool minimalists – wherein we do what works for us and leave the rest.
Learn from my mistakes
If you were to ask me how you can avoid burning out this year, this is what I would tell you:
- Breaks are so important. Take them when you need them. That means if you can NOT teach one more math lesson until the kitchen gets back to a point of at least being functional, it’s okay.
- Stop following social media accounts that make you feel bad. I don’t care if someone has 100,000 followers or all your friends sing someone’s praises.
- Speaking of which, listen to your gut. Mama Intuition is powerful. Don’t ignore how you feel.
- Develop a self-care routine. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Maybe your routine is reading a book in your room each afternoon during nap/quiet time. Maybe it’s a night with friends once a month.
- Learn about your personality and what you need to thrive. Introverts: read Jamie’s book! (afflink)
- Find a friend you can be honest with, who won’t tell you after a bad day that maybe you should quit homeschooling.
- Realize that you can make mistakes. It’s okay. We ALL make mistakes. We all try a math program that bombs – and online craft project tutorials? Forgetaboutit.
Mostly, I want you to give yourself so much grace. You are one person. We all are.
So do your best, and on the hard days, jump into bed as early as you can and promise yourself you’ll try again in the morning.
Remember Emerson …
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Don’t you love that?
We can always begin again.
Have you ever considered quitting homeschooling? What helped you stay the course?
Originally published Sept 17, 2019.
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So so good! Thank you for sharing this – It’s definitely something so many of us homeschooling and almost-homeschooling mamas need to hear.
Dawn’s latest post: Where There Is Love
This post is perfect. I need to read it twice a year as a reminder. ❤️
All the best Kara. It was great to hear that you are home now and we continue to pray that you recover fully and speedily. Thank you for all your wise words and encouragement over the years. I am sure you will have plenty more to share in the future, but enjoy this time of rest.
Thank you for this beautiful and encouraging post, Kara. I don’t think I’ve read anything you have written before, but I needed this today. I was just diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and have been doubting that I can keep homeschooling my four rowdy children. How can you know if it’s time to put the kids in school? Or do you just keep going hoping their minimal education will be enough?
Do you have any “cottage” or hybrid homeschools near you? They are twice a week and can help take a load off you.
That was exactly the post I needed to read today. This is our first year homeschooling and as I reflect on the year everything you mentioned is so thoughtful and helpful. Thank you for sharing and hope you are feeling better soon.
Kara, thank you for your words of wisdom. I started listening to your podcast when public school and distance learning became bad options for our family a couple of months ago. I find your voice comforting and your topics useful. It helps to have a sister by my side!
Dear, Sweet Kara! You and the Sisters have been MY rock for several years now and I pray that this community you have all built can now be yours…I pray the love we all share lifts you and your spirits up during this trying time. I too quit homeschooling. It was after an incredibly emotional situation occurred with my son’s 2nd grade Waldorf teacher…it was so horrible I pulled my kids that very day. Then I tried Waldorf homeschooling for the rest of the year. My misstep was that I tried to replicate a Waldorf classroom – although some of it was amazing and things we still do today (nature tables, walks, beautiful art (thank you Waldorfish)- some was exhausting (like trying to replicate the feeling of festivals)! I also saw how much my young daughter (4 1/2 at the time) was missing friends so we too went to a Montessori school…wow…what a difference from Waldorf! We lasted a year before we went back to homeschooling and have kept it up through high school (thank you to Jean Miller at Art of Homeschooling for guiding our Waldorf homeschooling end of things for the past 8 years!) while you ladies had my momma back! Coffee and Books has been our morning main stay for years…since you first published about it! Best piece of advice I ever got…and the first piece I pass on to new homeschool parents 🙂 We don’t know how something simple can change a life…but you have many of ours so… Please take care of you now so we can all have you back in our lives soon! We love you!
Very encouraging and very real. Homeschool burnout happens before you realize it sometimes. It was better to have the burnout early, I agree, because then it could help with planning and the run down of the school day and each of the children’s needs.
Thank you so much for this Kara and I pray that you get rest and are able to focus on getting healthier and stronger because you really are an amazing and positive light and voice in the homeschooling community. Please know that you have so many people behind you praying and sending love your way for healing. You are amazing 🙂 🙂 🙂