3 Tips to Overcome the End of Year Struggle

The struggle is REAL.

Do you ever feel as though you are not doing enough for your homeschooled kiddos?

Or you are not sure if what you are currently doing is the right thing? 

Do you ask yourself, “Am I ruining my kids for life?  Am I setting them up for failure?”

This time of year, which I call “the struggle is real” is rife with second guessing, dwelling on what never got done this year or what still needs to be done. Couple that with summer vacation and end of the school year fast approaching  and you have a recipe for disappointment and overwhelm.

homeschool mom struggle

Dear homeschool mom, this would happen to me every single year, both in the early days as well as my veteran homeschool days.

Why?

We all take our role as “Parent as Primary Teacher” very seriously.

We constantly give ourselves a non-stop performance review in our heads.  In other words, we let this really critical boss tell us we are not doing enough, that we could be doing more and that the kids would be better off in a different situation.

YES, even when our hearts are saying homeschooling is the best education for our precious kiddos!

Here are three tips I use to get that pesky, finger-pointing boss out of my head and begin to follow my heart!

Love always wins.

Jesus the source of LOVE. Replace that critical self-made boss immediately with the image of our Lord Jesus.  Visualize Him, and most importantly stop whatever you are doing and be present in His Love. If you can, go to Adoration, even for a quick visit. It literally changes everything.

I could not always get to daily Mass or Adoration when my children were little, so I made a spiritual communion, a desire in my heart to be one with Him.  Vinny Flynn in his book 7 Secrets of the Eucharist , in his last chapter, talks so beautifully about this tremendous gift, spiritual communion, Jesus is always available!

Make a List.

Writing things down always brings clarity. Period, end of sentence.  I know that it is so tempting to just let those self-defeating thoughts roll around in your head. Better yet it is super tempting to call a friend and complain. 

Now don’t get me wrong, it is a good thing to vent your frustrations to get the struggle out of your head. BUT writing down all those thoughts truly helps to put clarity into the big picture.

If you think you did not do enough this year, write down what you think you can reasonably finish in these last few weeks. It instantly makes you get outside your head and feeling productive. Forget the past, it is done and over with. Just move forward. Make a list.

Plan a celebration.

You are amazing and serve your family with your whole heart and soul. Please remember that!!

There is no doubt that even though you may feel your homeschooling came up short, there is without a doubt some wins!  Did one of your kids learn to read? Was there a sacrament received by one of your children this year? Did you learn more about one of your children’s interests/strengths?

Celebrate the good stuff that happened this year. There is sooooo much more to homeschooling than accomplishing the academic achievements.  It truly is about forming the people in our care in an environment of love and truth.  That is something to really celebrate!

Now it’s your turn, what do you do at the end of school year to finish up on the upswing?

Please comment and share, I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Top 3 Tips: Homeschooling when sickness hits!

I bet you can relate to this scene!

You are nursing full time to the sick kiddos in your home, so you get derailed from teaching the kids not sick. Then when the sick ones get better, the healthy ones get sick! This can go on for several weeks, one sick kiddo at a time!

Then you get sick.

What can a homeschool mom do?

You could just be sick and skip school, right?

“Plug-in” the kids with a few documentaries and viola it counts as a school day, right? BUT you have already missed so much time with them…

Or you could do these TOP 3 easy things that actually still get school work done while you are in survival mode.

Over the past 25 years homeschooling my seven kiddos, there were plenty of times that I actually never got sick, call it mom-immunity!! But there were also plenty of times that I too got whatever was running through my family!

I do not live near any of my close relatives and most family is about two hours away. I had to learn early on how to manage without much help!

They say necessity is the mother of invention and I truly believe that! More importantly, I do believe that God’s grace is sufficient. All too often I was way too hard on myself and expected way too much!

Having mom or the family sick brings with it amble opportunities to really focus on the overall important things of life.

Tip #1: Mandatory Quiet time

This tip is especially helpful when you have kiddos all under the age of 8. During this time of my life, I would gather every, single one of us in my bedroom and close the door. Heck, I got my cold from them so we would just plop on my bed in one, giant, sick bundle.

My family LOVES to color and this really was a salvation. I would always keep on hand imaginative, coloring books such as the ones from Dover Publications. This publisher is a fantastic resource because of the enormous wealth of coloring book choices with excellent and informative illustrations. To make it count as homeschooling, I chose coloring books correlated with our current school work in history, science or literature! The company offers free samples, you can just download now. They often have free shipping too. My best bets are the history coloring books, or the nature coloring books, something for everyone at different ages!

Tip #2: Reading aloud

Having sickness in the house, whether it is just the kiddos or includes mom, is the perfect opportunity to have read aloud time take over most of the homeschooling day. Count your sickness as a blessing to get you started in one of the most profound experiences in your child’s development, reading to you or listening to others read aloud! There are so many benefits to reading aloud, from the practical, such as language development, knowledge gained and shared, literacy skills, brain development to the spiritual and so much more!

I did a post: How to Make Read Aloud Time Work, with helpful tips and book recommendations. Read together from the couch or bed! Pick important stories too, that infuse virtues into your homeschool! Love this quote…

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

GK Chesterton

I have plenty of book reviews here on the BLOG. And I keep adding more weekly! These are book reviews culled from my 25 years of homeschooling and running our family business choosing the best books!

Tip #3: Play with Games and Toys

Yes, I did say play with games and toys and I mean for it to count as a homeschool day! However, not just any games or toys. I do not mean computer games. There are plenty of them, and free ones too BUT when you are sick or the kids are sick, it is so easy to lose track of time. Even if you set a timer for the kids to limit computer time, survival mode is not the time to monitor their computer usage. The result of which would only cause you to spend time trying to undo the damage of brain fatigue with crabby kids!

kids with tangram

It is really important to have on hand games and toys that actually teach important skills, such as spatial relationships, math skills, reasoning, color, matching, sequencing, timelines, communications, creativity, etc. Do you see where I am going with this? No babysitting by using TV and the computer!

Here is a handy list of my best games and toys that count for homeschooling:

  • Tangrams or Pattern Blocks- spatial relations, color recognition, patterning
  • Lacing and Tracing Cards – fine motor skills
  • Puppets – ones they make from a kit or animal and fairy tale figures (for storytelling)
  • Beading and laces – for patterns, colors, sequencing
  • Double-sided Geoboards – basic geometry of squares, rectangles, triangles, polygons and symmetry
  • Puzzles – letter recognition, spatial relations
  • Scrabble or Hangman – spelling practice
  • Two-sided counters – practice math facts

BONUS Tip – for your older kiddos

Chances are the older kiddos can manage most of their assigned work themselves for a few days, with no great loss. They most certainly should be able to read all assigned work. They can write down all their questions, or jot the pages from their workbooks that gave them trouble while you were down and out. I often found that without relying on my constant presence they could do a heck more than they realize. All too often they know how to do just the minimum which includes asking mom for the answers. Here is their chance to stretch themselves and you.

Give the big kiddos the chance to shine and be the family hero by asking them to teach their younger sibling a subject, be it math or spelling or something they love and excel in. Teaching younger siblings reinforces already learned concepts and skills with the added benefit that the repetition reinforces and strengthens it.

Be gentle with yourself! Rest, and get better homeschool mom!

What are your survival mode tips? Please comment below! The best tips come from those of us in the trenches!!!