Homeschooling When It's Hard
Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. As with all worthy pursuits, it comes with challenges. One of those challenges is our fluctuating capacity to homeschool in the first place. Some days we feel like homeschool superstars, and other days it’s difficult to even get started. Internal and external circumstances can dramatically change from day to day, some testing our limitations and those of our children. So how do we cope when homeschool is hard? Here are two tips that can help us:
- Simplify and modify.
Elder Hales once told Elder Bednar, “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”1 What a pearl of wisdom! How can we apply this wisdom to homeschool? We can first determine what needs to happen on any given day and then cut out everything else. If necessary, we can even modify how we accomplish the essentials. Isn’t it better to do a few things well than to do a lot of things poorly?
I had to learn this lesson in a dramatic way. Several years ago, I suddenly found myself on bedrest, trying not to go into labor too early with my fifth child. Out of necessity, our homeschool routine had to drastically change. Field trips, library visits, homeschool co-ops, extracurriculars, etc., were no longer possible. Furthermore, we had to significantly modify how we did the basics. We switched to open-and-go-only curricula, watched science experiments online instead of doing them ourselves, and studied on my bed instead of at a table.
I’ll tell you what—it was great! The simpler homeschool routine allowed us to focus our energy on what mattered most and complete it all with less stress and more time and peace.
Unfortunately, bedrest didn’t prevent my daughter from coming too early, and we needed to prolong a revised homeschool routine over the course of two academic years due to her long hospitalization and special needs. Throughout that difficult time, however, the other children still academically progressed and achieved commendable scores on their standardized tests required by our state each year.
Since that time, our circumstances have lightened, and we’ve been able to resume our previous practices. Nevertheless, I’ve made an intentional effort to keep homeschool pretty simple because we’re so much happier when we’re trying to do things “in wisdom and order2 instead of “[running] faster or [laboring] more than [we] have strength and means provided.”3 Therefore, some of the activities we used to participate in are now done on an occasional basis instead of a regular one.
“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good.”4 The word “all” in that scripture includes homeschooling! Not sure how to go about simplifying and modifying your routine? Pray. Not sure if you have what it takes to homeschool? Pray! We can pray to our Heavenly Father with full confidence that He will answer us because Jesus said, “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”5
What’s more is that not only will God answer our prayers, He will also lend us the strength and means we need to accomplish anything He prompts us to do in response to them. The apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”6 So can we, and notice there’s the word “all” again. I’ve committed that verse to memory so that whenever homeschooling is hard for me—in the moments when I’m feeling inadequate or overwhelmed, or I’m working with a resistant child—I can remind myself that I, too, “can do all things through Christ.” That scripture is extremely empowering, and it has helped me to endure through countless frustrating times.
It’s not comfortable to homeschool when it’s hard. However, if we can muscle through the challenges by simplifying and modifying our routines and by gaining wisdom and strength through prayer, we can make it through all right. Enduring those hard days will make it so we can appreciate the easier days and find homeschooling to be highly fulfilling and deeply rewarding.
1David A. Bednar, “Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name,” Ensign, November 2015, 128.
- The Mindful Heart