Homeschool Burnout: In Our Weakness, He Is Strong
- Tuesday, May 13, 2003
When we start teaching, the first week I start with one - maybe two - children. That's it. We start on half the subjects the first couple days. When this is going well and they are consistently doing well, we'll add another subject. After those two children are working well (or is it that my brain is functioning well?), I will add another child. When those three are working well and the schedule is smooth, I will add another child and so on until we are schooling all seven at once.
Another way I can bring burnout upon myself is to set my standards for my children too high. My expectations can be all wrapped up in my pride. If my children fail, I take it personally. This is a never-fail recipe for anger and burnout for me. Readjustment of what I can expect of my children in schoolwork takes some objective input from Tom. I am usually so blind by my failing standards that I cannot see past what is going wrong. I think I struggle the most with this "too high of expectations" with my daughter Sheela, who is blind. Somehow she seems so capable. Yet academically she struggles. Without her strong determination to hang in there, I think we would not have made nearly the progress. I have hardly had a month go by that I have not had to re-think my attitude towards schooling.
There have been times in the past that I have needed to secure outside help with housework or even schooling. An energetic teen or someone to share at least a little of the busy time of the day can make the difference of how I feel things are going. After a new baby, I do not attempt school. When we have lots of visitors, I do not attempt school (unless it works out that we school together for fun). When some of us are sick, we do not have school, especially if the one who is sick is me! If there ever is a time that school cannot be done with dedicated time and attention for some reason, we are reasonable. Our goal is two hours a day of sit-down, seatwork.
If homeschooling becomes a tension in the home, wait on the Lord. There is a reason that things are not going well. If it is not apparent, or the solution you thought would clear up the stress isn't working, talk with your husband. If you are a single mom, get input from someone who is pro-homeschooling and from whom you can take advice. Perhaps they might know of something that will help.
Motivated learners are what make teaching fun. Motivated (not perfect) teachers are successful. There are no perfect homeschoolers. In 15 years of looking, we have searched and searched and have not seen even one! This means that we cannot truly think that others always have it together.
Have you ever looked at another homeschooling mom and said to yourself, "I might as well give up; I cannot compare with her." The Lord has graciously given us children to teach and a land where teaching at home is legal. I am not so sure that God has a totally peaceful existence in mind for me. The Bible tells me that when I am weak, He is strong. If I have got it all together all of the time, perhaps I do not need to rely on God. From personal experience, there is something sweet about a desperate heart. Leaning on Him when I am totally burned out leaves room for Him to replace my goofed-up mental state with a better plan. So, boycott burnout. Replace it with sweet gratefulness.
Q: What a testimony! Thank you for teaching us that we can rejoice in all the challenges with which the Lord blesses us. Bless your family for helping to equip so many others.
You may contact the Bushnells at: NATHHAN/ CHASK, P.O. Box 39, Porthill, Idaho, 83853, 208-267-6246, www.nathhan.com.
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