Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Relighting a Burnout*

The title stared up at me from my hedua planner, "How To Recover From Homeschool Burnout" by Linda Johnson  Something in my Spirit said I needed to read this.  Personally.... honestly... we didn't even get into full-homeschool swing until about December... how could we be 'burnt out' already??

But I read it.

I read it because I knew there was something amiss.  Something making me unsatisfied, temperamental, and searching for answers.  I had prayed, especially as curriculum catalogs beckoned me and it is that time of year again... oh I prayed, "Lord, help me.  Show me what to do, you know what you want for our homeschool."

It was a heart-felt prayer, yet one of those prayers you take for granted.... the kind you just assume goes at the bottom of God's checklist for Priority Prayers Today and maybe... just maybe... you will hear something, but truly you don't expect to.

Like too many times in my life though, this was one of those prayers I didn't realize was being answered... and answered post-haste... until I was almost on the other side!

Yes, How to recover from Homeschool Burnout launched me down an unexpected path when I answered "YES" to almost every one of Linda's direct questions regarding my potential burnout.

Don't panic.... there is hope!  (Linda said so!)

We are taking this week off from hard-core studies.  Having real conversations about what our homeschool "is" and what we want it to be.  We are listening to each other, finding answers, and having fun.  I'm letting go a little.... and letting God a little more.... and I am learning some things:

  1. I CAN'T try to copy someone else's idea of what is important for kids.  I have to recognize what is important (and most of all) what is attainable for MY kids... and follow that.  Even if it puts us in a boat farther from "normal". 
  2. I have to hold schedules loose enough to allow learning outside the box but close enough that we don't get so distracted, NOTHING gets done!!!  It is taking me f.o.r.e.v.e.r to get this one straight!  
  3. My kids LOVE school at home!!!!!  Who would have thunk it!  Yup.  When asked about other ways of schooling, they WANT workbooks.  They LOVE assignments and deadlines.  They LOOK FORWARD TO daily schedules.  Wow.  I guess they are more like me then I realized!!!!  But they love the surprise game days too and extra time to play outside on sunny days.  (hence, perfecting #2 is key)

The wildest thing about the last few days... that other-side-of-it view... unplugging from the school machine and REAL assessments with the kids at my side, eliminated half of my planned curriculum order prep!!!  Classes and approaches I thought they would enjoy, in fact, were not at all appealing.  God used my burn-out to light a fire of understanding in His desire and plan for our homeschool... now and in the school year to come.  Oh how humbly grateful I am!

Hello, my name is Amanda, I am recovering from homeschool burn out.  I have been 6 days without grading a single paper and I have hope for all the potential grading and teaching ahead!

I want to encourage you, out there, if you are feeling the burn too.... don't be afraid to step back, assess, talk, play, have fun.... what is REALLY so important that you can't?  Do it for your sanity and do it for your kiddos.  But most of all... do it at the feet of the Father who is waiting to guide you in rekindling.  And don't be afraid to explore a return to learning that sets you outside the box!


*The pictures above were taken a few weeks ago.  We live near oil refineries and, it is my understanding, they were burning off winter fuel to make room for summer's.... I think!  The flame was taller than that at first and gradually dwindled down and burnt out!!  :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Bloom of Homeschooling*

Homeschooling... the technical form of it, is on hold this week.  Appointments and distractions necessitated it and last week's adventures were filled with unfocused follies which clinched it.  I informed the kids we were calling it "eclectic homeschooling" this week and set them into a direction of self-teaching and exploring.

They are loving it.

They are also (surprisingly) lamenting over not doing math workbooks and spelling reviews.  Have I created schooling monsters???  Gladly, yes, I think I have!!!

Gladly because the theme out there this week is two fold:

Self Teaching
Teaching through example

They seem the antithesis of each other (I love that word, thank you English from the Roots Up for helping me infect my kids with its meaning in a tangible way!!!)  But, truly, they are not.

To teach my kids to teach themselves and love learning through living as an example before them and teaching them what I know along the way... God's Word FIRST and all else second.

I have been reflecting much in my state of Blooming Taking ShapeWhat does our homeschool look like?  Just how do I transform and grow with my growing learners?  How do I prepare my 10th grader (and those coming after her) to be a functioning.... nay... a thriving adult in an often critical and deceptive society?

  • I have to make sure they can think.
  • I have to do what I can to instill in them a love of learning (not just throw learning at them).  

I have always known this... I have had the quotes from popular magazines and authors plastered on my walls and in my planners for years....

Learning isn't the filling of a pail it is the lighting of a fire.

I have, recently, in my reflections, also realized that all the books and articles are great.... but I am not those moms.... my kids are not those kids. And while each has encouraged and inspired me, none have quite fit ME... US... our homeschool.

This year of bloomy praying has stripped me down and left me bare.  And now, as I seek to re-clothe the petal of homeschooling and children and motherhood... I find that homeschool is not what I can model after someone else's great ideas... it is what I can model for my children to inspire ideas.

I'm saying good-bye to the high expectations of self and perfect-looking homeschooling created by trying to follow all the advice of experts (though I know the temptation will still needle me!!!).

I'm saying Hello to us... who we are... as God has designed and called us.  I am going to embrace what our day looks like instead of striving unsuccessfully for what others say it should be.

I'm not going to care where we are lacking because I know through His rested assurance that we will get there and we don't have to keep up with the Joneses to be there the same time as everyone else.... wait.... we  are the Jonesses!!!  Well, don't try to keep up with us ;-)  We are blazing fires and if you do anything like I do... set your own fires, in your own areas of wilderness, to clear a path for YOUR learners, the way they learn!

I will still read articles and explore the paths others have walked.  They inspire me.  But I will no longer allow them to be unrealistic standards which I often fail to meet... and then feel like a major looser for missing on!

With God as our Guide, our Counselor, our Light... we will see the way and!

I pray you will too!!