Sabbath Schooling

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Several homeschoolers I know homeschool for six weeks and then they rest on the seventh week. They call it Sabbath Schooling. I like it. I sort of do it, but I don’t rigidly stop teaching on the seventh week. Sometimes it is on the ninth week, based on what we have going on. For instance, if we are learning a new math concept and have momentum under our wings, I will not stop just because the seventh week started.

I like to take a break when I feel exhaustion coming or when the kids are burned out or when we have a family outing. Our version of Sabbath Schooling happens on a weekly basis. We homeschool six days a week and rest on the seventh.  Continue reading »

I don’t know why we should only school for five days a week. “Six days shalt thou labor…” says the commandment, right? Even God worked for six days and then rested on the seventh.

Even Jessie Wise, the mother of Susan Wise Bauer, says in The Well-Trained Mind that if she could do everything all over again, she would school for six weeks and then take a break.

On Friday, we still hit the books (although only for essentials like reading and math) and practice piano and violin, but we also clean the house and the yard, fold laundry and cook an extra meal for the weekend. We count it as home economics. The kids learn skills that will help them in their home life.

Some weeks, I do take a day or two off if I sense that we are all approaching the point of no return, a.k.a. burnout. We do not want to go there. We stay away from it. By the way, compassion fatigue is a real medical condition and it happens to care-takers. Homeschooling moms are not just teachers, they are also care-takers. 24/7. Unless you have a break for yourself, you will experience compassion fatigue and it can lead to some ugly behavior. Take a break! Take a Sabbatical.


3 Tips to Avoid Homeschool Burnout

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The über-famous picture of Earth taken by the last lunar crew, Apollo 17, back in December 1972, has inspired generations over the past four decades. What’s the connection between the blue marble and homeschooling? Just look at that beauty hanging in space. When you get overwhelmed with homeschooling and your world, you should take a look at the world. It puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

The Earth seen from Apollo 17 - December 1972

The Earth seen from Apollo 17

As astutely noticed by David Thornburg, when they took this picture, the Apollo astronauts were going to the Moon. They looked forward to it. Literally. They also had the sense to turn around and look at what they left behind. And they snapped this picture.

As you push forward in your homeschooling efforts, it might help to look back now and then, especially if you feel the brink of burnout drawing closer. Here are 3 things you should do when you feel homeschooling burnout creeping in:

1. Stop teaching altogether. Allow yourself a few days. Call them “in-service.” Take your children to their outside-the-home educational activities, but do not teach in the home. Read up on favorite topics. Window shop. Take walks. Your children benefit from free play. You can always catch up on planned lessons.

2. Change perspectives. Have you been on the road a lot lately? Stay home. Have you been cooped up? Take a field trip. Have you spent too much time cleaning and sprucing up the house in addition to homeschooling? Stop cleaning. Has the house seen better days? Clean it up.

3. Look back at the moment when you first thought of homeschooling. It might make you cringe, but it might also inspire you. That first hint of interest in teaching your own children, that first conversation with God about your inadequacies and fears, that first trip to a used curriculum fair and the confirmation that – wonder of wonders! – homeschoolers do not have three eyes…

You know your experience better than anybody else. Think about it and see where that meditation takes you. Hopefully it will be a place of warm, fuzzy feelings and a renewed resolve to guide your children’s education. Homeschooling is an adventure and a journey. Let’s see the forest while looking at the trees.