What to Do When You've Fallen Off the Homeschool Wagon

a little red wagon

After six years of homeschooling, loving it and feeling successful, I’m here to say I have fallen off the homeschool wagon. Big time!

A move, followed by the holidays, followed by major house issues and renovations zapped the creativity and energy I once had. My homeschool well is dry! For the last several months, homeschooling has not felt even a little fun. It’s felt like work. All I could think about was the to-do list looming and how it would be easier if my daughter were in public school.

Homeschooling asks a lot of us. It’s not easy, especially when life changes or chaos enter our lives. The truth is I would have had a lot more time to work, recharge, and get things done if we’d stopped homeschooling.

Do you know what else is true? I am in a perfectly normal blip in our homeschool journey. Things we love can sometimes feel extra hard. Our patience and motivation naturally wax and wane.

I think realizing the truth about the situation and not beating myself up for how the last few months have gone is the first step towards getting our homeschool rhythm back on track. There are a handful of other things I’m going to do, too.

Feeling unmotivated, stuck, or like you’ve fallen off the homeschool wagon? Let’s get back on track together. Here are seven ways we can find your homeschool groove.

1. Be Kind to Yourself

Offering myself a big dose of shame or believing I’m not good enough to homeschool is not going to make getting back in the saddle any easier. If anything, it will reaffirm the story of failure I’m telling myself.

If you’ve fallen off the homeschool wagon, it means you were once on it! Remind yourself why you are homeschooling. Each day is a new start.

2. Remember What Has Worked in the Past

Spend time remembering all the ways homeschooling has worked in the past. Maybe make a list of these things and try implementing a couple of them.

For example, reading together at a set time each day has always helped ground our homeschool day. It offers us time to connect, learn, and get inspired. So we’ll definitely be finding time each day to read as we get back on the homeschool wagon.

3. Don’t Panic! Learning is Happening All the Time

Chances are, even when things don’t go exactly as planned, something good can be found. Our homeschool days were not ideal this winter and spring, yet my daughter’s reading proficiency and math skills skyrocketed. I can forget the progress she made if I just focus on what we didn’t do.

We have the time as homeschoolers to press pause when we need to. Your children are not going to fall behind just because you’ve had a few bumpy months.

4. It Takes a Village

Having a homeschool community, online or in person, is crucial, especially when homeschooling feels hard. Look for co-ops or groups, field trips, playgroups, or classes. Enlist the help and creativity of others.

What to Do When You've Fallen Off the Homeschool WagonTalk with other homeschool parents. Homeschoolers love to share and will probably offer all sorts of ideas to help you and your kids get back in your grove. At the very least, they will be able to commiserate with you! Falling off the homeschool wagon happens to all of us.

5. Have a Learn Nothing Day

Sandra Dodd, a known unschooler, celebrated Learn Nothing Day with her children every year. The idea is to tell your children that on Learn Nothing Day, learning is not allowed to happen. Of course, learning is always happening, but it’s fun for kids to think they aren’t allowed to learn.

They’ll probably try to break the rules. Catch them learning and laugh together. Reset your homeschool year with silliness.

6. Set New Goals

One of the ways my children and I reset each semester is by setting new goals together. This is a great activity to do when you’re feeling burnt out as well.

Brainstorm with your child

  • all the science topics or historical periods they are interested in studying
  • what books they want to read
  • what goals they have for math or writing
  • any life skills they want to master
  • any classes they would like to take

Choose a couple of goals to focus on first. Post them someplace you all can see them, and then begin.

7. Take Care of You

Chances are if you have fallen off the homeschool wagon, something else has needed your attention. Take your mental temperature. We can spend a lot of time focusing on what our children need and neglect ourselves. What do you need?

  • Do you need to hire a babysitter for a few hours a week or trade childcare with friends?
  • Do you long for solo-time to curl up with a good book?
  • Do you need a date night to reconnect with your spouse?
  • Do you just need to sleep?

We can only give so much before our own well runs try. Give yourself something each day that is just for you!

Falling off the homeschool wagon isn’t fun, but it doesn’t mean we’re doomed to fail either. If anything, it’s an opportunity to remember why we’re homeschooling. We’ve had success in the past and will have it again. Hang on to the wagon and climb back on.

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About the Author

Kelly Sage of Curiosity Encouraged

Kelly left teaching middle and high school English to homeschool her children and reclaim how she and her family spent their time. Followers of interest-led learning, her family's days rarely look the same, but they tend to include a lot of books, art supplies, and time outside.

Kelly facilitates local writing circles for women and children and blogs about nurturing the love of learning on her blog, Curiosity Encouraged. She loves to journal, read memoirs, hike, and travel. She seeks quiet mornings and good coffee daily.