Too Much, Too Fast = Burnout

Do not let anyone guilt you into doing more than you (or your kids) can handle. Burnout comes from too much, too fast. Just because another family is studying Latin, Greek, and Hebrew in Kindergarten, it does not mean that you should, too. It also does not mean that the other family will actually learn anything from it, or continue it to mastery. They may be well on their way to being the next family to give up homeschooling and re-enroll in public school.

The “right way to homeschool” is the way that is comfortable and relaxed and fits your family’s lifestyle. Do not take this business too seriously — make it enjoyable. Homeschooling already far exceeds the standard set by government schools, and Homeschool Burnout is caused by trying to do too much, too soon, to other people’s standards.

Begin by teaching your beginning student to read and count. The simplest methods are often the best: Alpha-Phonics teaches reading just as well as the $200 programs, but for 1/10 of the price. If you find you need flashcards or other manipulatives, make some yourself with your student’s help, or shop your local thrift store and see what goodies can be found there. The Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series was my favorite for very simple-but-elegant penmanship that, incidentally, converts later to cursive with few changes and little difficulty. Pick up a set of Cuisenaire Rods and introduce Miquon Math at 1st grade. If you already have some simple storybooks and a library card, you are now well equipped for the first few years of homeschooling. History, science, geography, health — all those can wait until 4th grade when your student has a confident grasp on reading and is ready for some broader subject matter and a wider look at the world.

Language Arts is a catch-all phrase for reading, phonics, spelling, handwriting, grammar, and composition. My advice is: you know what your child is interested in, and you know what your child is capable of. If little Melissa wants to write stories, by all means let her, even if it means she dictates while you act as scribe. If Scotty gets bored stiff doing workbook pages for spelling or phonics, dig out your old Scrabble game and let him form this week’s words with the letter tiles. “Thinking outside the box” may be a modern cliche, but it definitely applies to homeschooling. Playing with letters/sounds, forming those letters/sounds into words, and grouping the words into sentences is how we all learned to talk. Now it is how your student will learn to read.

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