Usually when homeschool burn out occurs it is on the part of the mom. This is with good reason as the homeschooling mom (or dad) has a full plate. A homeschooling parent has to juggle teaching multiple grades, keeping the kids involved outside of school, keeping the house from burning down, keeping the family in clean underwear, and pursuing personal goals and pursuits. We know that homeschooling is a full time job when we decide to take it on and expect it will take a balancing act of love and patience. Homeschooling is one of life’s greatest joys for the teacher yet it can result in exhaustion as with any of life’s valuable endeavors. So most of the time the burn out is on the part of the person wearing many hats. However, the kids also experience burn out.
A burned out homeschooling kid displays this state in many ways. You may see glazed over eyes more than usual, work done in a half hearted manner, rebellion, the appearance of boredom more than usual, low or no motivation, little attention span, or restlessness. You may wonder why your child seems to have lost a few brain cells all of a sudden or why a child normally excited by blowing up things in chemistry shows no interest. This can be a frustrating time for both student and teacher. While a child should not be given a pass each time school turns a boring or becomes rebellious, a parent needs to be sensitive to a child who is overwhelmed or in need of a break.
Ways to combat burn out:
Unit Studies: Unit Studies are a great “vacation” from the traditional year. Your student will still learn while focusing on something of his interest for a short time. Once the unit study is concluded the student may have a better attitude toward his old books or study.
Fun: Yes, we homeschooling parents are not opposed to plain old fun. Homeschooling parents have a tendency to make a lesson out of anything from grocery shopping to shoe shopping. So adding in some fun for a day can lift the burden for both student and teacher. Spend an afternoon building Legos, spending time on an art project, playing board games or kicking back and watching a good movie.
Field Trip: Field trips are an effective way of combating burn out. It’s a nice time for both teacher and student to get out of the house, take the noses out of the books, and spend some time together exploring.
Be Mom Again: Sometimes the role of teacher bleeds over into the mom role. A homeschooling mom has teacher in her blood and can hardly separate her passion for teaching from her role as the nurturer. Yet, maybe for a day teacher could take a back seat to mom. I know my kids have often missed mom when the only one they saw for a long time was teacher mom. Spend some time exploring together, just talking, letting your child do the talking, or just go out for ice cream.