You have started homeschooling your children, but things are not going exactly as you dreamed. In your dreams, your children hung on your every word, loving every minute of learning with big smiles on their faces. In reality, there are days you wonder if they’ve heard one word you said because of the blank stares that return your gaze. Honestly, some areas of learning seem to be going great, while others don’t seem to be working at all. Your house looks as if a study on explosives got out of hand. And your biggest question is, is all of this my children’s fault or mine?

Take heart! You are not alone. Having taught in public schools, private schools, and homeschool, I can assure you that all teachers have bad days – days that make them wonder if any learning occurred. Try not to be discouraged on these days.

One homeschool mom reminds us that “All of your time spent with your children is teaching time, even though it may not all be textbook time.” Another mom shares some advice from veteran homeschool friends: “My friends told me that they felt the same way at times, and just to pray on it and remember why we made this choice to homeschool.” On those hard days, remind yourself that it is normal to have such a day occasionally.

If your reply to the above is that you have a hard day every day, then evaluating your homeschool process might help. First ask yourself, are all subjects going badly or is it only certain subjects?

If a certain subject is causing your homeschool to seem like a prison, maybe your child is weak in this area. It might help to slow the pace in this subject temporarily, or even permanently if necessary.

When my son was learning multiplication, he was still unsure and confused when he reached the end of the section. I decided to depart from the book for a month. We looked at multiplication in many different ways. We played computer games, card games, and multiplication puzzles and did oral and written drills. By the end of the month, my son felt much more confident about multiplication and proceeded in his math book at a regular pace.

Try slowing the pace at your house and see if that helps the learning process go more smoothly. Watch and adjust to your child in this subject. Pushing ahead when your child has no understanding only frustrates you both. Remember that homeschooling is flexible for your child’s learning needs. Take advantage of this and help yourself and your child have less stress each day.

If after slowing the pace you still feel your child is struggling in the subject, maybe you should try a different book or program. Not every book or curriculum that you purchase will end up working well for your family. Sometimes a different book will approach the subject in a different way which is easier for your child to understand. Don’t feel like you have failed if you have to change books, just realize that you now know a little bit more about how your child learns.

If all of your subjects are going poorly, however, then you need to dig a little deeper.

Do You Have a Routine Set for School Time?

One mom suggests, “Set routines as much as possible. Kids like routines and it makes your life easier.” I agree that children do much better when they know what to expect. When you set routines for your school day, it helps your children see your expectations for the day. Try making and following a school schedule. It can be very loose or very detailed. If you like, you can include chores and free time along with school on your schedule.

Our family uses a daily schedule. It gives a guideline of what we are supposed to be doing at certain times of the day. We don’t always follow it to the minute, yet it really helps us to get more done each day. When you begin using your schedule, remember that it will take a week or two before your family flows with it easily.