Monday, September 5, 2011

Beat the home ed blue-bugs!!

Lately a lot of home ed mothers, new and old alike, have confessed that they are plagued by the home ed blues, loss of confidence or niggling doubts about what they're doing.  It seems to be part of the learning process, leading to change in practice or perspective.

Like sandflies, fleas or mozzies, worries seize any opportunity to nip and nibble, and when they've had a good feast, can leave us feeling rather itchy, uncomfortable and desperate for a remedy.

The impish little mites (aka insecurities) are pretty easy to fend off one by one, but when they attack en masse it can be harder to defend the castle.  Here are a few specimens I've come across.  In italics are some quick rebuttals to squash the bugs:

Daily Detail Demanders - often doubling as our staunchest supporters, these are well-meaning people who want to know if we've done our schoolwork for the day.
Whilst many days look unimpressive to an outsider, home ed. success is best measured in monthly or termly summaries, when growth and change are more apparent.  WE know our days are rich in learning and personal development, and some of it is easy to verbalise.  But a lot of it is hard to convey in a brief chat.  Store up handy anecdotes so that when the question is asked, you're primed to share the little victories that really matter.

Pesky Perfectionism - bites too often, when we focus on our faults and judge ourselves as imperfect.   Indeed, we are!  Usually we can handle that truth and see the overall balance.  But sometimes our flaws can trick us into thinking that the alternatives (eg. school) are somehow prettier than our best efforts.
Our best efforts ARE enough.  Our 'survival mode' efforts can usually still be offered in love, with patience and personalised attention.  There may be circumstances which call for change, but generally, we ARE better equipped to nurture our children than the lucky-dip teacher our children may have at school (until the day parents can hand-pick each teacher, and guarantee that the best teacher is going to have a wonderful year, free of disasters and trials).

Acute Questionitis - this often sneaks in when Illness, Depression and Overwhelm visit.   Am I doing the right thing for my children?  Is our life really as good as I happily tell people in good times?  Are the kids truly as blessed and fortunate as they deserve?  Would they be better off in school?
To put a bad day, or season, in perspective, just look at how stressed your children are that you haven't had the energy to implement all your wonderful plans.  Are they?  If they're like mine ...  not a care in the world!  I'm fortunate to have had the energy to feed them most days, or direct them towards something they can prepare.  They have a captive audience, time and ideas galore.  They have enough toys and books to sink a ship (though a big cardboard box would trump them all)!  My 'bad day' is their opportunity to shine.  Hmm ... I'll have to think of a better reason to feel inadequate. 

Greener Pastures Syndrome - the familiar fear that our children will miss out on something, like a quirky maths teacher, inspiring art teacher, whizz-bang science program, being in the choir, debating club.
Our kids WILL miss out on some things.  There are many things we'll be grateful they missed.  But they will also have opportunities that the kids in the pasture next door don't have (like TIME to pursue their interests).  They WILL meet exceptional people, of all ages and various talents, and thankfully they'll have more freedom to enjoy special moments with peers and mentors, unhindered by bell times.

Continuous Compulsive Curriculum Design Disorder - knowing that there might be a better resource than the ones you've just bought after years of comparing and critique-reading, and thinking your children's future success and happiness depends on acquiring it.
True, there may be a better resource.  There always will be.  It may claim to teach something faster or more thoroughly or with more fun.  There's no harm buying excellent resources.  But what REALLY matters is the way we use what we have ... the very reason we chose to homeschool in the first place ... personalised, relationship based, flexible and responsive guidance.  Don't get caught in the trap of spending more time planning, preparing and comparing than doing, playing, loving and being. 


There are many tools which help me defeat the little beasties with a good dose of positivity ... 
(mostly guaranteed to change the pace and mood of the day, if it's been a dull or doubtful one)

*  read extra Bible stories to the kids (they're always saying 'just one more please!')
*  dance or paint or run or play with the kids
*  have a games day or project day or swim day
*  reread a favourite homeschool encouragement book

And here are a few of my favourite online remedies:

Burnout busters at Homeschooling Downunder
Happy to be here with Left to their own devices
Really rich encouragement from Dove's Rest

AussieHomeschool forum my virtual staffroom
Rockpool Homeschool forum another fun group

Overcome adultitis with Kim and Jason

This HAS been a wordy post, sorry!  I wrote it to help myself out of a pit.  And thankfully it helped.  If you've read to the end, I'd love to know what helps you fight off the homeschool blues.
What's your favourite way to get back into the swing of things, to iron out the bugs and get on with the joyful business of raising happy seedlings?


  1. Timely post Vanessa! Thanks :)

  2. Very cool... very true. Why don't you post this on the AH forums... giving full link back to this blog post? I'm sure lots of other mums, who don't visit blogs would appreciate it. :)

  3. Encouraging post Vanessa. I've tusselled with those beasties also. I often reach for my homeschool comfort food at these times. 1.Healthy Food-A good encouraging read(Sally Clarkson for me) 2. A Smorgasboard - a week off trying a bit of everyhthing (although that can make me extra stressed and a little fat) 3.Spiritual Menu- A prayer and planning session for the mind and spirit.

  4. Great post, really well written!


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