The REAL Reason Behind Your Homeschool Slump
It’s January… which means we are all on a downhill slide. The busyness and craziness and fun of Christmas has all been quieted, and we are left to our own devices (often trapped inside from the frigid temps). If you’re like me, this anticlimactic time following the depths of winter as we roll past the New Year can usher in boredom, exhaustion, and cabin fever. We oftentimes enter what’s now commonly referred to as a “slump” in our homeschool year.
But why?What is the real reason behind your homeschool slump? Is it fully triggered by gloomy weather and post-holiday blues? I suspect there’s something else lurking beneath this battle almost every homeschool Mama faces each year.
Every March, for 6 years, I begin to shake this depressed, bored feeling by planning for the next school year. I start looking at what we’ve been doing that’s working well and what isn’t. I start perusing new curriculum options, attending homeschool conferences… Generally “casting a vision” for the upcoming year. I do this with a ton of excitement and expectancy since I’m “totally over” the current school year and ready to look at something NEW and exciting. And THIS TIME, because of my research and planning and awesome schedules, we won’t even HAVE a slump come January. Right?
If you aren’t type A, this might not resonate with you at all, but if you are… You’re probably thinking “Yep!”.
So how is this scenario a bad thing? I’ll tell you, friend. Expectations. As new homeschool Mama and then as I’ve walked through this cycle year after year, I have found myself hashing out a big ol’ pile of expectations. I dream about ideal school days, field trips, and experiments. I hold shiny new curricula in my hands and ponder all the excitement and education that’s definitely going to happen. I subconsciously (or consciously) ponder all that has gone wrong this past year, and I expect that my new plans and schedule and co-op and books will be the solution to those troubles.
I honestly build up a whole lot of good things to live up to. I ponder all the struggles we’ve had, whether academic or relational or time management, and I imagine that THIS TIME I’ve found THE SOLUTION.
So casting vision and dreaming are good things, right? Certainly, we have to PLAN our new year? Of course.
But, the question to ponder is this: Are the expectations that I’m holding in my heart leading to the dissatisfaction and burn-out I experience in these cold winter months?
Like all Mamas, I have challenges in various aspects of my homeschool. But, when it comes down to it, what is TRULY behind these challenges? What is the real reason behind your homeschool slump?
The challenges to my well-laid plans come from disobedience or disorganization or procrastination or inattentiveness or a lack of self-discipline. Some of this is coming from my children but much of it from me.
So my error is this: I’m looking, each year, to find physical tools to remedy a spiritual problem. And the expectation that these books and plans will fix or change anyone’s heart is inappropriate and dangerous and leads to the tired, depressed, disappointment that creeps its way into my heart and mind come January.
The work of my child’s education is the changing of their heart toward Christ, and the often gut-wrenching work of my own sanctification in the process- not the perfect curation of an excellent reading selection for the year.
When I turn to new tools and new activities to fix heart problems, I am seeking to take control into my own incapable hands. So when the newness of the activity, curriculum, or schedule wears off and the excitement of the holidays has waned, and we are trapped inside our homes with all the same sins stirring all around us and within us- I begin to question it all.
Am I even cut out for this?
Am I failing my children?
Because of *specific sin issue,* I feel behind all the time. How can I ever get this all done?
Why can’t I get it together?
So I feel tired, burned out, and ready to throw in the towel (or just stay in jammies and nap all day long!). All of the same issues that interfered with last year’s plan have cropped back up again.
The hard truth is this: nothing will change in my homeschool year after year until I recognize the real “problem”… There’s no curriculum or change of pace or ideal day in existence that will replace the hard work of cultivating character and discipling my children. There’s no new schedule or homeschool method that will replace the need for my own sanctification and growth in character traits like diligence, faithfulness, and self control. Those things are FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. And unfortunately, they don’t include those in a boxed plan from Tapestry of Grace (as much as I wish they did!).
So, what is the real reason behind your homeschool slump? The slump (for many of us) simply happens when we realize that all of our well-laid plans have done naught to fix any challenges we faced the year before.
Only Jesus. Only our full dependence on the Holy Spirit and the purposeful act of relying solely on God will bring change to these obstacles we keep encountering again and again. Only the intentional practice of cultivating character and bringing Christ into every little situation will bring peace we all crave in our homeschool.
So, the solution to our annual homeschool slump, whenever it might happen in your home, is not really as much a change in pace or scenery or curriculum choice as much as it is simply a refocus on Jesus…
It’s the replacing of our expectations with His Plans for our days, and the replacing of the pursuit of knowledge (as our primary goal) with the pursuit of Christ instead. It’s the ministry of heart change so that minds can then be changed.
Erin Cox is joyfully a homeschool mama to 4 babies, ages 13 down to 1. She married her grade-school sweetheart 15 years ago, and lives to love him well. Her abiding love for Jesus Christ and her heart to encourage other women toward him dictates her days. Her tag line is: Jesus in. Joy out. Erin writes about homeschooling, taking hard moments captive for Jesus, and loving her family well at Life, Abundantly. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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