Homeschooling sure can be frustrating.
No, I haven’t changed my mind about teaching my kids at home. I would never change this lifestyle for anything. Anything.
I’m not going to lie to you, though. Homeschooling isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Ask any homeschool mom. Like anything in life, there are aspects of it that can be stressful. The root cause may be different depending on who you ask, but, trust me, there’s always something.
Here’s what gets me going:
When my kids can’t seem to grasp a concept I’ve gone over with them until I’m blue in the face.
As a former gifted student, I have a really, really difficult time empathizing with my children when they can’t seem to master a skill I think should be a no-brainer to them. I’m not proud of this, but there it is.
When I was a student, academics came pretty easily to me. Other than being bored to tears while learning geometry proofs, I can’t remember anything that I really had a tough time with. This can really impede our homeschooling lessons because I can’t seem to get it into my thick skull that my kids aren’t me.
As recently as a couple of days ago, I ran into this while doing math with one of my kids who’s really been struggling with fractions. I could feel my face getting hot, and I knew it was time to finish the lesson. I took a deep breath and resolved to take a break from math for a day or two (which is what we did). Later that afternoon, I asked for some advice from some people in my homeschool group. Boy, am I glad I did!
10 Ways to Cope with Frustration When Your Homeschooler Doesn’t “Get It”
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1. Take a deep breath and pray.
As a woman of faith, it is such a relief to know that I can depend on the Lord to give me peace when I need it the most. Taking a moment of quiet meditation is a miraculously effective way to calm yourself down when you feel like you’re about to lose it.
2. Take a break from the offending subject.
Whether you simply cut the lesson short, or skip it completely for a day or two is up to you, but can I tell you how much this is sometimes really, truly, needed? Taking a break not only gives you and your child a chance to reconnect but I’ve found that this is often precisely when your child may have an “aha” moment, and the concept will finally click.
3. Get those school timelines out of your head.
Always, always, always remember that you are a homeschooling family, and school timelines have nothing to do with you. I know all too well how nerve-wracking it can be to have this running through your subconscious: My child should be doing this by now. Her friends are learning this at school.
Grade levels and skill levels are arbitrary guidelines that serve a purpose in a school setting, not in a homeschool. Take advantage of the freedom that homeschooling offers, and let your child learn in her own time.
4. Remind yourself that all kids are unique.
Just because your older child could do something at a certain age doesn’t mean that all of your children will. Let your kids be the unique individuals they were created to be.
And one more thing? They’re not you. (Speaking to myself here…)
5. Ask your spouse or one of your older children to try explaining it.
Not only does this help because you’re being given a chance to take a step back and collect your thoughts, but oftentimes other people will have a completely different way of explaining things, and it will connect with your child. This is especially true for siblings because, being children, they see things through a child’s eyes and can magically explain things in a way that only another child will understand.
6. Find a tutor.
I’ve heard some people say that there are just some things they’re better off not teaching to their child. If it’s in your budget, seek out a tutor. If you’re on a limited budget, check with your local library. Sometimes they have free tutors available. Another idea is to find a homeschooled teenager. It can be a relief to both you and your child!
7. Change things up a bit.
Maybe the way you’re teaching something doesn’t fit your child’s learning style or just doesn’t hold her interest. Incorporate some online tutorials, DVDs, or educational games. One resource that helped at our house immensely was “Multiplication Tales.” Anything that can get my kids to learn their multiplication facts in a week is worth a mention!
8. Ask yourself how you want your child to remember her homeschool years.
This one may take some frequent repeating, but be diligent about presenting yourself in a way that will produce good memories for your child. If you mess up, apologize and start over. Tomorrow’s a new day!
9. Drop everything for the day.
Not just the subject in question, everything. Turn on a good family movie or go to the park. Take a walk or drive to the mall. Remember that relationships must always come before schoolwork.
10. Try a new curriculum.
I put this one last because I’d consider it a last resort, but sometimes it’s all that will help. As a single-income family, I know that money can be an issue, but your kids have got to come before your bank account. And remember that there is a ton of inexpensive and sometimes free curriculum out there. It just takes a little searching.
I think we homeschool moms tend to think that we are the only ones who struggle with things while everyone else does it so much better than we do. It’s simply not true. We all struggle. We all make mistakes. And we all fail at times. And that’s okay. There are no homeschool superheroes. The question to think about is:
Are you doing anything to fix it?
Do you struggle with frustration at times in your homeschool? How do you deal with it? Leave a comment!