How to Pick a Homeschool Program in a Season of Burnout
by Rita Davidson
Any family, or mom that has taken on homeschooling today has got alot on her plate. Both with keeping up with household duties, sending hubby off happy, laundry, cooking, and homeschooling. Today we also have homeschool group get togethers, ballet (or other) lessons, activities and more that take us out of the house.
Mothers from 100 years ago, did much of the household duties, including cooking, cleaning, but they did not take care of homeschooling, or have any outside activities. While they had to bake bread from grain they also had to grow, theirs was a different time and I might almost venture to say, more physical but not as hard on the ‘mind’ as our days today.
Hard on the mind;
Just what do I mean with that? Well, 100 years ago, days were simpler. Aren’t we all craving that simplicity? I mean if you were out of bread it was obvious that was what you did that day. There was none for lunch! The routine of gathering eggs, feeding chickens, milking cows, baking bread, making lunch, mending, washing laundry, making supper, all was a difficult but simpler routine than we have today.
Our day involves trying to squeeze in a doctor appointment while Sally is at swimming and pick up milk and bread on the way home. A real feat to organize some days!
It’s more difficult to plan our days. Organizing schedules and timing things just right takes a toll on the mind. It takes great organizing skills to run a family today and if you are naturally organized , it’s a win-win situation. If your not a naturally organized person, well you’ve just taken on a whole new self-help activity that you are going to have to fight against – yourself.
What do I mean by that? Well, as Catholics we know our life is a journey, during lent we work at developing virtues we have never had. We also work at getting rid of ‘habits’ or vices that we always had! So, self-development for a Catholic is a given. It’s part of our journey in the spiritual life. Some of us, me included, come with extra baggage. Like not being naturally organized and having to jump into the world of achieving this. (the subject of another blog post or book all by itself!)
Another set of baggage many of us also carry around is perfectionism. Wanting everything to work; just like ‘this‘. Wanting everything to be just ‘this perfect’. Not being able to do step B, because Step A wasn’t finished. You get the idea. What perfectionism does is actually paralyze us. As years go on, we find ourselves more and more put in a corner, not able to do anything at all. What we’ve done is develop a ‘habit’ of procrastination. And procrastination and perfectionism are deadly. Maybe not deadly to your soul, but deadly to being able to get through your day.
Which brings me to homeschooling. How do you decide the right curriculum or approach for you?
Well you see many of us have young children, with still alot of ‘fight’ left in us. We take on the feast day baking, saint day parties, latin reciting, sewing matching outfits, perfectly obedient children and a happy hubby to boot! But some of us, by the time we have half a dozen, more or less, children we are feeling the ravages of this life. The emptying out of our joy. The never-ending fatigue and worry that things are not working the way we had imagined. And the terrible feeling of, we have failed.
If we are at the start of homeschooling or in the middle of it, we have to honestly look at our own qualifications. I don’t mean we need to approach homeschooling qualified!
But, what are our strengths and our weaknesses?
What can we do really easily, and what do we find difficult?
Do we need more structure, with lesson plans? Or can we wing it with un-schooling?
Are our children obedient or do we have to fight with them each day?
Have we considered getting in a helper to teach a subject we don’t have the brain work to do?
(this alone might save the sanity of many moms!)
In choosing homeschool curricula, we need to pick it based on not only our children’s needs but on our own needs to avoid burnout. Ultimately, we have to choose something to keep it simple so we can continue consistently, year after year.
A quick breakdown of some more popular Catholic Curricula providers:
Seton: Seton comes with heavy lesson plans from what I have heard. Lots of paperwork and great organization, but for someone with already alot on their plate, this is going to quickly overwhelm them with so many deadlines. And when deadlines are not met, that perfectionism monster kicks in to remind us with guilt about what we ‘failed to do.’ Tuition starts at $495
Our Lady of Victory: A traditional curriculum, that is flexible with or without lesson plans. Traditional in content. I was disappointed at some of the higher level courses quality. Tuition starts at $250-300 per year.
Our Lady of the Rosary: another traditional catholic curriculum, though I have no experience with them, with lesson plans. The tuition is more costly than Our Lady of Victory it seems. Tuition starts at $529
Laura Berquist: Many know her as bringing us the Classical method of teaching. This is basically what we followed for our girls for many years. Her general book outline served us well, especially as we relied on donated homeschool books for most of our homeschool life. Her tuition seems very reasonable at $600 per family. I’m not sure if this is per year.
Kolbe Academy: They are new on the block, from 2003. Ignatian, Classical and Magisterial in philosophy. Flexible with enrolled families they say. Tuition starts at $240 -360
CHC: beautiful, simple curricula that everybody loves. Step by step plans are laid out so they are easy to implement for a busy mom. To make it more traditional, add in your own Catechism and your good to go. No tuition here options here.
When it comes right down to it, if we are burned out, we really need to concentrate on the 3 R’s.
Reading, including: Phonics in the early years
Writing: including Grammar work, and report writing later years
Arithmetic: Math, including geometry in the older years.
What I think we fail to realize is that, the 3 R’s is all we get tested on. It is all that is required for the basics. In a season of burnout, this is what you want to reduce your life to, so you can recover and get back on your feet.
Many mothers take on so many extra activities such as art, music, geography, history, crafts, health , latin, foreign languages, science and more, that they burn themselves out just with the sheer volume of it all. Remember we are not a school with all their resources, we are homeschoolers!
Add onto that special needs children, like we have, and it’s a sure recipe for burnout. I’m still recovering from it! 🙂
In the early years I worried about using everything ‘catholic’ from spelling to math. As the years passed I realized this was not only not needed, but virtually impossible. We live in a post-Christian society. We buy from non-catholic companies for most of our needs. What we need to do is be sure we are building a Catholic culture in our home that supports our faith. If you don’t put prayer (including the rosary) first in your life, all the work you do to make everything Catholic will turn to nothing when your children turn to teens. It is what is built in their ‘hearts’ that is going to make the difference.
Moreso, we must pray, pray and pray what is it that God is calling our children to be in this dark world? What might God call our children to fight with in the future?
Is a College education really going to help them get to heaven?
Is a curriculum in humility, wisdom and modesty going to help them shine their light in this growing darkness?
Is God asking your sons to become good and holy priests to replace the tragedy in the Church today?
Is God asking of you your daughters to become good and holy nuns, who will pray for our disgraced Church?
Is God going to ask the ultimate sacrifice from your children as a martyr in this growing anti-christian world?
Think well on what God is asking of your children and you will see what they need. Don’t base it on what you needed in school, or what your expectations are for education.
Surprise – there is nothing wrong with growing up to become a plumber, a carpenter or electrician! A simple and humble profession might be the way for them to save their soul! The restoration of the Church and the salvation of our families all depends on our cooperation with God’s grace. We are all part of this growing light, during a dark time in society. We MUST do our part in raising up saints today to combat the diabolical slumber that is overtaking the world and the Church. This is our ultimate goal. I only pray you will answer God’s call, will you?
Post below your thoughts!
©Copyright 2013 Rita Davidson All Rights Reserved.
Rita is a Catholic wife and mother of seven children. Mark is her ever patient husband. She reverted back to the faith when her oldest was making her First Communion. By then, she had completed degrees in Hairdressing and Make up artistry. She went on to receive a degree in Natural Health and another degree in Art. At age 26, Rita suffered a minor stroke. With no lasting effects, this dramatically changed her outlook on life. In 1996, Rita began ‘Little Flowers Family Apostolates’ to reach out to other families with her new found faith, by creating unique Catholic books and resources.. In 1999, she wrote the bestselling, ‘Immodesty; Satan’s Virtue’. She was editor of ‘The Catholic Health Letter’ for 7 years. She has been a homeschooling mom for 20+ years, and has written for various magazines. She is honored that families have trusted her with their questions, needs and concerns over the years. She continues to write and reach out to Catholic families with her husband, Mark and their 4 boys through http://www.LittleFlowersFamilyPress.com