Homeschooling is like having two full time jobs: school teacher and stay-at-home mother.
Because of this, homeschooling moms are some of the busiest people I know.
In order to make life manageable, homeschooling moms must prioritize. Sometimes it is hard to cut back on activities that the kids like, or that are theoretically good for them, without feeling guilty.
It is so easy to look at crazy-busy homeschool families whose kids seem to excel at numerous activities and feel pressure to do as they do. If that family can do it, then my family should be able to as well.
However, every homeschooling family is different, and every student within every homeschooling family is unique.
This is something that I have had to keep in mind when choosing activities, or the kids and I get overwhelmed. These are some specific questions that I have taken to asking myself to determine if an activity is right for my family.
1. Enjoying the Excellence
Does my child enjoy this activity?
My husband really wanted our kids to play the piano and love it. While our oldest enjoyed it, the next two preferred other activities, such as art and choir.
After months of fighting, we decided to let them quit lessons for the time being. The kids still put their time to good use and cultivate meaningful interests, but we no longer experience conflict and resentment about practicing.
Our new philosophy is to encourage the kids to excel at whatever wholesome activities they find interesting.
2. School without Stress
Is my child able to complete his/her schoolwork without stress?
I want my kids to focus on learning the material instead of getting it done so that they can go do what they want. Therefore, I try to avoid scheduling regular activities during the school day.
For this reason, I had to eliminate our homeschool co-op from our schedule. While some of my kids enjoyed it, it left barely any time to get our Seton work done when we got home.
After co-op, the kids wanted a break from activities, but we could not do that and still get enough schoolwork done.
Now that I have freed up our schedule, the kids have time to work at a more leisurely pace, which helps them retain the material and avoid burnout.
3. Too Many Activities?
Does this activity significantly raise my stress levels, damaging my health and impacting my ability to homeschool?
Without homeschooling parents, there is no homeschooling. If I do not take care of myself, then I cannot take care of my children. Therefore, I have to consider how much additional effort I have to put into an activity.
For example, sometimes my kids just have to do without an activity if it requires a 45-minute one-way drive twice a week. That kind of time commitment impacts my ability to teach my other children or get things done around the house. As a result, I must take time out of fun family activities to get necessities done.
I know it is better for my kids if the family can do fun, relaxing activities together than it is for them to participate in every activity they desire.
4. My Homeschool Mission Statement
Is this activity/activity level in accordance with my homeschool mission statement?
I decided to homeschool because I wanted the flexibility to adapt my children’s curricula to their own individual needs.
I wanted them to have the freedom to develop their God-given talents and gifts as well as spend time with and learn along with their siblings. At the end of the day, that is what matters.
Sometimes the family needs a break, so we arrange a play date with another homeschooling family at 10 o’clock on a Tuesday. I homeschool because I want the freedom to do so.
However, if an activity disturbs our flexibility and causes us to be stressed out, rush through schoolwork, or neglect family time, then that activity will not work for our family.
Once I examined my family’s activities in light of these questions, I was able to eliminate several burdensome activities from our schedule, and honestly, our family has not missed them.
Rather, our homeschool days have become more relaxed, allowing the kids to excel at a few select activities they truly enjoy.