Surviving the Homeschool Cycle: A Guide to Navigating the Ups and Downs

Surviving the Homeschool Cycle: A Guide to Navigating the Ups and Downs

Let’s demystify homeschooling, shall we? Homeschooling isn’t just an educational choice; it’s a way of life and it’s messy! As someone who has walked this path for a while, I've come to realize that treating homeschooling as a separate entity from life and parenting only leads to frustration when expectations aren’t met.

Like life, homeschooling has its ebbs and flows. There are seasons of excitement and motivation, followed by periods of doubt and questioning. If this rollercoaster ride sounds familiar, congratulations! You're experiencing the normal rhythms of homeschooling. So be kind to yourself, you’re doing a great job!

Let’s delve into what the homeschool cycle typically looks like. I will share some tips that you can implement to help each stage as it approaches.

Preparation Stage:

This phase is all about laying the groundwork for your homeschool journey. It's a crucial time when you plan, envision, and set the tone for the year ahead. Here’s what you can do:

  • Reaffirm your reasons for homeschooling.
  • Reflect on past experiences to discern what worked and what didn’t.

  • Craft a realistic vision for your family’s educational goals.

  • Consider going on your own “homeschool planning retreat” or attending conventions for inspiration and community support.

  • Take stock of your curriculum and sketch out a flexible guide to follow. (Lucky for you, BookShark already has it all laid out for you!)

Ready, Set, Go! Stage:

With the groundwork laid, it's time to dive in! Remember, learning should be enjoyable. Kick off the homeschool year with fun and creativity:

Start with a special “Back to School Breakfast” to celebrate another year!
Involve your children in personalizing their school supplies and organizing their books, decorating their notebooks etc.
Hold a vision day or week to discuss expectations, brainstorm ideas and set goals together.
Don’t rush; ease into the routine gradually.

Approaching Burnout Stage: 

Around three to four months in, burnout may start to loom on the horizon. As holidays approach, you might feel overwhelmed. Here’s how to navigate this phase:

  • Simplify your schedule by focusing on essential lessons; it’s ok to pare down.
  • Enjoy a fun holiday-themed unit study or go on some fun field trips.

  • Bring some novelty to your routine with a themed lunch or outdoor reading sessions or maybe just watch a movie.

  • Bake or cook! So much to learn there: Life Skills, Math, Science and even History

  • Give yourself a reset day. (No school!) Evaluate your year so far, reset your thoughts, and recalibrate your emotions. Look back and notice all that you’ve accomplished! Everything's better with a fresh perspective.

The 'So Hard To Get Back Into It' Stage:

After a break, getting back into the swing of things can feel daunting. Combat the drudgery by starting slow and infusing fun into your routine:

  • Begin with an engaging field trip or group project.
  • Enjoy a cozy tea party with some poetry reading.
  • Dedicate a week to just reading instead of trying to do all the subjects.
  • Start with a unit study that goes with what you’ll be learning.

Finishing Strong Stage:

As the school year progresses, thoughts turn to the future. Finishing your curriculum may seem difficult. Here are some ideas to refresh your homeschool and help you finish strong: 

  • Introduce exciting living science projects (caterpillars, frogs, silk worms etc!).
  • Go on some nature hikes and learn from the great outdoors.
  • Work on a spring cleaning project together. Life skills are a valuable part of homeschool.
  • Plant a garden! Even if it’s just one pot, you’ll unlock so many hands-on learning opportunities.
  • Watch a documentary or do some gameschooling. 
  • Rearrange your curriculum. Take your unread books into the summer for a fun summer book club! Create a “science camp” with all the undone science projects that you didn’t get to. 
  • Let go of non-essential, uncompleted lessons. Learning will continue, I promise!
  • Plan for a simple, end-of-year celebration. Get your kids involved in this! This will help you set a goal “end date” which can help you remain motivated.

Celebration Stage:

Congratulations! Now that you’ve completed another year of homeschooling, you deserve some time to simply rest. Take a moment to celebrate your accomplishments and recharge before gearing up for the next year. Remember, you’re amazing, and your homeschool journey, even with its ups and downs will always be worth walking through. 

Like life, homeschool will also have an expiration date. So be intentional, choose your battles, have fun, rest frequently and savor each messy moment.