When you’re shooting for a fixed school year end date, this time of year can be one of stress, frustration and worry. If you’re one of the lucky few cruising across the finish line right on time or even ahead of schedule, we commend you! But if you’re facing unexpected challenges or finding yourself falling short of your goals for this school year, here are some strategies to help you remain focused while committing to finish the school year with grace for yourself and for your kids.
1. Refocus on your purpose in homeschooling
Take a moment to remember why you are doing this. Breathe a prayer, and ask God what is most important to Him for your homeschool and where you need to adjust expectations. Do you need to change your end date target? Do you need to homeschool through the summer in some subjects?
Don’t beat yourself up about the circumstances that led to you being behind, especially if they were outside your control. God doesn’t ask us to construct the perfect life. He only asks us to be faithful with what we’ve been given.
2. Take stock and reset expectations.
In homeschooling as in many other areas, before we can make a meaningful change, we need to get a realistic picture of where we stand. Even if it feels like you don’t have a moment to spare, take an evening, a weekend, or even an entire school day to go through all your materials and identify exactly what remains to be finished.
Keep your adjustments realistic. You can devise a plan that calls for doing two math lessons a day for the next month, but if your children can’t absorb the material, you’ll actually be doing yourself (and them) a disservice. Make plans that are rooted in the reality of what your family can handle, not in your feelings about where you should be. Remember the goal is learning, not just finishing the textbook.
Once you’ve zeroed in on what needs to be completed and centered yourself in God’s design for your family, ask yourself where you can cut back without sacrificing your goals.
Are there social obligations or extracurricular activities you can put on pause for a few weeks while you focus on finishing your schoolwork?
Are there subjects where your children have already mastered the content and you can skip over some of the remaining material?
Can you reduce the length of assignments and still accomplish the same amount of learning (doing every other math problem, for example)?
Are their subjects where you can scale back by completing readings and written assignments, but eliminating extra projects or experiments?
Can you switch any of your readings to audiobooks that your children can listen to independently so that you can devote your hands-on instruction time to other subjects?
Get creative, and embrace flexibility.
4. Bring your kids on board.
Consider having a frank discussion with your children about where you stand. Make sure you are calm and composed. If your relationship with your child has been strained, this is not the time to blame or point fingers. Instead, ask for their input on how you can get through the remaining schoolwork in the most painless way possible. You may be surprised at the solutions they come up with!
Maybe they are willing to do extra pages in their spelling book if it means they will get done faster. Let them see that their hard work will be rewarded.
Maybe they’d like to spend some time outside in the morning first thing before starting schoolwork. Or move lessons into the backyard or onto the deck. Give their ideas a chance! You certainly don’t have to say yes to every suggestion, but you’ll have a much better chance of getting cheerful participation in your plans if they have some ownership of the process.
Above all, give yourself grace. It won’t be like this forever, and no matter what you see on social media, nobody does it all. Take things one day at a time, and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Work for his approval. Watch for signs of his tender kindness each day. With God’s help, you will make it through this school year.