{GHF Blog Hop} Homeschooling During the Hard Parts of the Year (and Life)

Homeschooling during hard times via RedWhiteandGrew.com

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF) February 2014 Blog Hop. However, if you don’t homeschool and prefer to read this post as “Parenting During the Hard Parts,” it’ll resonate perhaps as well.


They come, they go.

In our lives just as on our calendars.

And when we enter into the decision to homeschool our children, we make certain decisions, no . . . we make assumptions about how they will proceed.

We forget or are oblivious to the fact that like every other phase or aspect of parenting, homeschooling has its seasons, too. I’m not just talking about moving our children along academically, trading phonics and basic addition and subtraction for the study of Chaucer and pre-calculus. There’s also the co-op group that only holds together to for a year, breaking apart when the lead teacher-parent gets transferred. Or the realization that the neighborhood park play group that we’ve counted upon for years now presents serious personality and behavioral issues that no one in a leadership role cares to address, forcing us to pack up our kids, the sand toys, and leave.

The actual seasons of the year play a role. Late spring brings swim lessons that force us to back-burner geography. Winter holidays invite us to consider fractions and long-division in recipes, measurement and geometry problems while wrapping presents for friends and family.

Somehow, even when our own personalities leave us anxious that we’re incapable of doing what we set out to do—to teach our own, we make it through. Imperfectly perhaps. That’s okay. It just has to be good enough, not amazing. Not transcendent. We regain our composure, we move forward.

Like the seasons, we change.

We hit our stride again.

YES! We are clever, we think to ourselves. Mighty clever.



Here come the surprise turns of life—grief, illness, divorce. Oh, and then there are the things that don’t surprise us as much as periodically (routinely?) undermine our fragile sense of self-efficacy (the recalcitrant teenager, for example, who has always been a challenge to parent).

In the darkest hours of our days our exhausted brains switch on at 3:45 AM. We can’t help but think about The Problem (whatever it is, temporary or perennial) because it has lured Doubt out from under the bed where it lurks like one of childhood’s monsters. So, yeah, we think about The Problem even though we need sleep while Doubt points out our shortcomings.

To right ourselves, we do what we’ve been taught or learned to do. We pray, we meditate, we recite lines of the poem that invites us to remember that we are not alone in our pain, doubt, and fears. We get up, we make a cup of tea. We stew about it, stunned that this is the season that we’re in. Damn. Under the cover of night we order a few more parenting and homeschooling books from Amazon, hoping that another parenting expert or a different curriculum will help.

We worry if we’re good enough. We worry if we’re strong enough to push through with the housework, the job, the adult relationships, and dear God why are we homeschooling right now?

We learn that, in order to survive, we can only reach out.

In those seasons, the cold ones and the white-hot ones that seem too hot to bear, we must reach out. We find people who understand us, people who share our belief that the decision to teach our children at home is complex and about so much more than teaching the 3 Rs. We find people who support us, even if they live half a continent or half a world away. We develop a plan. We move toward change again. Maybe we do send the kids back to public school. Or maybe just the eldest one?

For all our twisting and turning, the only thing we really can do is wait. The resolution usually reveals itself.

After nights like that, outside as dusk turns to dawn while we sit slumped and dozing on the couch, the sun’s rays make their way to us. Morning rays. The light of resilience. They find us.

We lurch forward into the new day until we find momentum. With patience, with practice–day in, day out–it returns, too. The Problem will go away–or at least we’ll find a solution “good enough” to help us hit our stride once more.

Yes, in the morning we are on the road to being clever again. Once more it seems worthwhile to homeschool. The Problem seems manageable. Doubt creeps back into the shadows and settles alongside the dust behind the sofa.

We make a mental note to sweep it away next week, after the birthday party and the Greek Mythology unit study. We’ll feel up to it then. Or maybe we’ll be feeling too good to worry about it.

That’ll be lovely, yes, when it happens.

And it almost always does.

Homeschooling during the hard parts of the year (and life) via RedWhiteandGrew.com, part of the GHF Blog Hop February 2014

Pamela Price is a writer and author of How to Work and Homeschool (GHF Press). Her second book is due out in 2015. You can follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Please don’t forget about the other stops on today’s GHF blog hop!

GHF Blog Hop February 2014


    • Speaking of seasons–I’ve been thinking of you for days with all of that flooding. Take care and stay safe, Wenda! Looking forward to seeing you in person soon!

  1. So good to be reminded to take a look with a wider lens. It can be hard to remember there is no right way. There is only the constantly evolving way that works…some of the time. Thank you.

  2. What a beautiful and sincere post! This definitely applies to parenting, not just homeschooling. Why is it that the darkness of night always brings our fears into the light? And then in the morning you start to wonder whether those fears are legitimate, because by the light of day (with hot coffee in hand), they’re not so bad.

  3. “Under the cover of night we order a few more parenting and homeschooling books from Amazon, hoping that another parenting expert or a different curriculum will help.” <—- Yup! I do that, too! It would be better if I read them, though!

    It is just so nice to know that other homeschoolers go through the same ups and downs that we do! Thank you for such a validating post!

  4. So lovely. Reminds me of the LOTR quote: ” Who knows what you have spoken to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all your life seems to shrink, the walls of your bower closing in about you, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?”

  5. I LOVED reading your post….It resonates to well with me…and I guess most homeschooling parents…And may I say how beautifully you write too!

  6. I like the seasonal take about homeschooling. In my neck of the woods (New England), the four seasons are more defined and thus take a large role with homeschooling.

  7. I did enjoy this post, thank you Pamela! Melbourne is called the city whose weather gives you all four seasons in one day and sometimes our home schooling felt a bit like that too!

  8. I have no clue how you crawled inside my mind and wrote what I’ve been thinking for the past few months, but thank you. It is a relief to feel I’m not the only one.

  9. I wish I would’ve have seen this last night when I was lying in bed, remembering all the things I had forgotten to do the day before, and wondering how in the world I was ever going to be able to get it all done, especially with not getting any sleep!;) I need to put this post in a file for the next such emergency!

    • Aw, thanks, Jennifer. You’ve just reminded me that I need to start a new to-do list for the week. It’s the only way I keep from losing things. LOL.

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