This time of year is always dangerous. I went to the store the other day for stencils and came back with $53.00 worth of school supplies–and still couldn’t find the stencils. Aside from endangering the budget, back-to-school time is dangerous to the sanity of homeschooling moms because of something I like to call Homeschooling Idea Overload. HIO affects 1 out of every 31 homeschooling moms who own a social media account and there’s no known sure-fire method of protection. Here are the three most common situations to watch for if you suspect you may be at risk for developing Homeschooling Idea Overload:
1) Summer Reading
That’s right. All that reading you just did over the summer could be dangerous to your mental health. Now that you’ve read all about Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, or Classical-style homeschooling, it’s easy to be gung-ho about changing everything up. Don’t give in to the powerful hallucination that your unsuspecting children will roll with the changes, thinking “Mom knows best,” and “I always wanted to completely change my entire routine to this pretty new (jam-packed) schedule–all in the name of a beautiful education.” Such hallucinations are a dangerous symptom of HIO, and can lead to anxiety in those around you. The most effective treatment for this symptom is moderation. Implement small changes, over time. Whatever you do, resist the urge to implement everything you just read.
Unsurprisingly, Pinterest, the bane of all who lack culinary and crafty skills, is also a thorn in the side of the homeschooling mom. Night owls must especially beware of this social media vortex. Before you realize what’s happened, your husband comes home to find you, eyes burning, in three-days’-old yoga pants, with dishes everywhere because the kids have been left to fend for themselves during your weekend Pinterest bender. Pinterest benders are a major risk factor for Homeschool Idea Overload. They are best prevented by time-limits or abstinence. If you can’t find the perfect middle ages princess costume sewing project to complement your unit study in a 20-minute search, it’s time to move on.
3) Curriculum Shows and Homeschool Conventions, Obviously
Between engaging speakers and pursuasive advertising, sales from these events have got to be making someone millions.1 The true crazy comes out here. Our inner nerd smothers our outer normal person with a pillow and lets herself loose to fondle shiny new books, smelling them and giddily reading back covers.
Hordes of dedicated educators (and genuinely nice people) hawk their “revolutionary,” “newly revised and updated,” method of teaching Spanish or Algebra, claiming its never been this easy to learn.
Curriculum shows and homeschool conventions, while often inspiring and fun, can easily lead to serious cases of HIO and are best combatted with heavy doses of reality, the 24-hour rule, and a budget. Sleep on it for a day. If you still feel the item will “revolutionize” your homeschool, it may be safe to purchase–but only if it fits your budget. I know, I know. Reality.
Preventing Homeschool Idea Overload
Rest. Simplify. Decide.
Remember, there’s no guaranteed way to prevent Homeschool Idea Overload. Try not to expose yourself to HIO too often, as its effects can be debilitating. If you find yourself infected, get some rest, maybe drink some water (that always helps, right?), and then simplify and decide. Find a book, preferably a very old book, and just start working through the pages. I like Ray’s Arithmetic, and the Harvey’s Grammar series. Remember, people much smarter than us once use slates and chalk to learn everything from Latin to Geometry.
Just choose something. The simpler the better.
It’s Not About the Books
What will really make the difference in your homeschool is the relationship you have with your child. Are you attending to his emotions toward the subject? Are you helping him stretch just far enough to make the leap to the next concept on his own but not too far that he gets frustrated and quits? Sometimes we underemphasize the teacher/tutor part of our vocations. We get so focused on choosing the exact right curriculum, that we don’t trust ourselves to walk with our child down the path of learning–encouraging, stretching, challenging, and supporting him.
Keep that big picture in mind and you’ll have a great Back-to-School season!