Oh, that magical time when you’ve just started your homeschool journey. Everything’s a joy, your children have positive attitudes, and your days are filled with adventures and hands-on learning. This blissful time is what many refer to as the honeymoon phase.
For the average homeschooler, this honeymoon phase can last anywhere between six months and two years. Some homeschoolers even go through this stage at the start of each new school year. But, as with most phases in life, sooner or later the honeymoon phase comes to an end, leaving parents feeling drained and unmotivated. After the excitement wears off, your children lose that spark in their eye, and homeschooling becomes a monotonous routine. Thus, the journey that once felt like a joy starts feeling more like a chore for the entire family.
You’re not alone. Most homeschoolers have experienced this blissful honeymoon stage and its devastating end. The good news is, the next stage of homeschooling, which I like to call “finding your groove,” can be equally as enjoyable. All you need is a couple of back-pocket solutions to help you steer your homeschool in a positive direction. Here are seven tips for homeschooling after the honeymoon phase.
1. Spend one-on-one time with each of your children.
Challenges can arise as the homeschool year progresses and adds more activities to our to-do list, which keeps our schedules so busy that we don’t spend as much quality time with our children as we did during the honeymoon phase. This can pose a problem since children learn best from those to whom they feel intimately attached. That’s why parents are often the best, and most critical, teachers in a child’s life. Losing that special connection with your child is a recipe for behavioral and learning problems in your homeschool.
One key to combatting this challenge is to be more intentional about connecting with each member of your family and encouraging them to connect with each other. Remember to slow things down, take a breather, and schedule consistent days when each of your children gets your undivided attention all to themselves. If you have a huge family, you can split your children into smaller groups and spend quality time with each small group. Play board games, go for walks, take your child out for ice-cream, and get to know them better so that you can teach them better.
2. Find the right balance between mom and teacher.
The lines between teacher and parent often get blurred during the honeymoon phase of homeschooling. That’s with good reason. You’re excited about everything, and every experience seems like an amazing learning opportunity. To add to that fact, parents are also teachers by nature. However, there’s a tendency for homeschool parents to turn every conversation, every interest, and every experience their child has into a lesson. Resist the urge!
Knowing the delicate balance between recognizing learning opportunities and just enjoying special moments with your children is an art. Sometimes, your children just want to go to the museum and take everything in without an agenda. Sometimes your children want to discuss their favorite topic without the fear that you’ll turn it into a lesson or lecture. Remember, you can’t force your children to make real-world connections with their lessons. That magic should be organic and will happen in its own time.
3. Keep getting dressed.
After the honeymoon phase, there’s a tendency to skip getting dressed each day. Homeschooling in pajamas is just fine. However, getting your children into the habit of getting dressed will play a huge role when the honeymoon phase ends. That’s because sometimes days will get tough, and you may have to take spontaneous trips to the park, zoo, or museum just to maintain everyone’s sanity. Having everyone already dressed and presentable gets you out of the door in a jiffy! Not to mention, getting dressed will improve everyone’s mood and help your family feel more productive.
4. Reevaluate and Amend.
It’s a good idea to reevaluate what is and isn’t working for your family during each new season—especially following the end of the honeymoon phase. One of the major benefits of homeschooling is having the flexibility to make necessary changes on an as-needed basis. Yet sometimes we tend to hold on to methods and practices that no longer serve our family just for the sake of routine.
Remember, your family’s needs when homeschool was new and exciting at the top of the school year will likely be different when everyone is dreading the monotony in the thick of January. The winter season can bring on a host of homeschool problems, and it’s no coincidence that it begins six months into the school year—around the same time the honeymoon phase ends for most families.
5. Embrace the learner you have.
The downside of the honeymoon phase is that parents often spend more time trying to make learning fun than they do focusing on how their children learn best. This practice typically results in a curriculum mismatch that reaches a boiling point by mid-school year. There’s nothing that triggers the end of a honeymoon phase more than a curriculum that fails to suit a child’s learning needs.
Embracing the learner your child is, rather than forcing your preferred teaching method onto them, is the best way to remedy mid-year curriculum challenges. Sometimes, this embracement means going down a grade-level or two, tossing an expensive curriculum, or amending your homeschool method to a more child-led learning approach.
6. Pace yourself.
I don’t know who needs to hear this but “stop, sit down, and relax.” You’re doing too much. Overzealousness is a mistake we all make during the honeymoon stage, and it usually leads to burnout by the mid-school year. Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. You must brace yourself and find a pace that will sustain your energy, motivation, and passion.