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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

The 6 Secrets to Rescuing a Derailed Homeschool

4 minutes

Summary

It’s easy to get off track. It can be hard to get it together again! Christina Wersland walks us through the 6 steps that turn derailing into road bumps.
Christina Wersland’s family story was showcased as a Featured Family: 8 Active Homeschoolers: The Wersland Family Story

The Perfect School Year.

Doesn’t it sound fabulous?

Motivation and enthusiasm for learning in abundance. No “sick days” or unforeseen interruptions that take us away from the flow of our schooling. Everything planned and organized in a neat, tidy little package. And then I wake up from that little dream.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel there is an unspoken expectation for homeschooling families to “keep it together” better than other families. That somehow, because we have chosen to go against the tide of society, we are under a bigger microscope to have the education of our children down to a science and that any little glitch makes us a failure.

In my 16th year, I will say, this burdensome feeling is much lighter than it used to be! But there is still a nagging little voice in my head, which could be God saying… “Christy, this isn’t a free-for-all… your kids can’t play ‘King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table’ every day, and for Heaven’s sake… take a shower!”

And I do believe that in the beginning, I, not anyone else, had an unreasonably high expectation of what our homeschool journey would and should look like.

Fast forward several years and I still have very high expectations. After all, I do want to foster everything in my children that God created them to be. However, I think that my more “mature” and wiser homeschooling-mom-self is a little more relaxed and realistic about what that “perfect” school year should look like.

The reality is, we are going to have things that muck up our homeschool order and flow. It happens to us every year…..and it has from the very first year. Each fall, my husband and my dad take as many kids as possible for two weeks of camping and deer hunting, in hopes of replenishing our meat supply.

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It just so happens that this comes around week 6 of our school year.

Just as we get on a good schedule with our school days, extra curricular activities, and other obligations……BAM!

Two weeks of nothing, right when we should be gearing up to finish First Quarter. Over the years, given that this is a “foreseen” derailment to our routine, we have implemented a few things to try to offset it.

1. We pray.

We know that everything is better when we move aside and let God take over and lead us through.

2. Mom puts aside the “school” calendar.

I don’t throw it out; I just set it aside for a couple weeks. We live in the Pacific Northwest….which means we have summer and warm weather for a very distinct amount of time. Using the typical public school calendar is a goal….but isn’t non-negotiable. Sometimes, the calendar doesn’t need to control us.

3. We work ahead and we school on Saturdays.

We do our best to set ourselves up for a stress-free return to the schedule, by knowing we aren’t as “behind” as we might feel.

4. Enjoying Special Times of the Year

We realize that this hunting trip is important to our family, so we have to make sacrifices in order to have this time together. Usually this means we take less time around the Holidays, and that is okay.

We try to implement the Liturgical celebrations into our daily routine, so we really don’t feel as if we need to “break” from school in order to enjoy these special and specific times of the year.

5. We get back to our routine quickly.

After all this time, it is habit. We have had the same daily school schedule for years. We don’t change it from year to year. We could do it in our sleep.

This is a comfort to us when the “unexpected” things come up.

This leads me to the “Unexpected” Derailments.

“Unexpected” Derailments

Last year, two days before Christmas, 7 out of the 10 of us came down with a virus like we had never experienced. For the first time ever, only my husband and 2 oldest boys were able to go to Midnight Mass. And by Christmas Day, all 10 of us were flat on our backs…..and we were there a few days into the New Year. When we felt like we had come back to life, we sat down with the calendar. We assessed where we were, and we buckled down HARD.

We know that spring is a very hard time to keep on schedule. Our sons have played baseball for years, and now we have one who shoots archery. All of this happens between March and June…before summer baseball and our girls’ summer swim meets take over.

Given the additional bump in the road, we knew that we had to resist any temptation to slow down. Any unnecessary day off was just not possible if we were going to finish by the time the warm weather hit and our desire to be as far away from our school books as possible took over.

We set a “goal” finish date, and we worked evenings and weekends to get as close to that as possible. Again, our daily habit routine was invaluable in getting us back on track and keeping us on course….even on Saturdays.

8 Active Homeschoolers: The Wersland Family Story

Recap

So, to recap the key things that seem to keep our school year ticking, even in the midst of bumps in the road…

  1. Pray. Step out of God’s way and let Him work. Let Him move in your life.
  2. Establish a daily routine and make it a habit. Have specific times for everything. It will be your safety net when things get off track.
  3. Don’t panic if you need to set aside your calendar for a few days or even a few weeks. We are homeschooling for a reason and stress is not one of them.
  4. Be willing to school when you typically wouldn’t, to stay on track or get back on track. Evenings, weekends and yes….even some holidays.
  5. Don’t give up important things to your family for the sake of the school calendar. There is always a way to get back on track.
  6. Go back to your daily routine… ALWAYS.

Remember, educating our children is about more than their textbooks. It’s about learning how to prioritize the important things in life, see the beauty of God in everything, love above all things and learn to deal with adversity in an imperfect world. It’s about the desire for order, which is instilled in us by God, and is what keeps us moving forward in our faith and our life.

If we order our life with God first, followed by everything else, then challenges that threaten to completely derail us will be only bumps in the road.

“Perfect” is in the eye of the beholder, and how blessed we are to follow God on such a magnificent journey with our family.

Which one of these six ‘secrets’ works best for you? Comment below. :)


Christina Wersland’s family story was showcased as a Featured Family: 8 Active Homeschoolers: The Wersland Family Story

About Christina Wersland

Christina Wersland
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Raised in a Catholic family on a farm in the Pacific Northwest, and the first of 7 children, I knew I was called to be a mom when I was just 5 years old. Now, as a wife and mother of 8, my husband and I raise our children on the same property where I grew up. When we are not schooling, we keep busy with baseball, swim team, archery and all types of hunting, fishing and hiking, encompassed in our Catholic faith. In my down time, I can be found with a camera in my hand as a portrait photographer-a creative outlet that helps keep me sane!

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A wide range of authors from priests, educators, parents and students bring insight and inspiration for the homeschooling journey. We would love to hear from you! To submit your story for consideration, visit Submissions. Learn More
  • Karen Doll

    Wonderful suggestions, Christina :) I too was a long time homeschool mom and I wholeheartedly understand your struggles and feelings of insecurity. Homeschooling is a HUGE undertaking in the best of times. Add a few bumps, hills, or dare I say, mountains in your path and it can seem rather insurmountable. Thankfully, we belong to God and He is traveling the path ahead of us. He’ll see us through, no matter what we face. I’m so glad your family is well and well past that mountain of a virus!! God bless you and your family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

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