Homeschool Essentials

Whether unschooled or highly structured, religious or secular, all homeschools encounter the same challenges. All successful homeschools exhibit the same essential qualities. This weblog will help you understand and apply those qualities, minimize frustration, and enjoy more success sooner.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Second Layer of Homeschool Burnout

Big deal, Ed. You've described burnout. That's like going to the Doctor, who, after a thorough examination says, "You're sick." "Thanks a lot. I knew that when I came in."

What do I do about it!! Well, like a lot of other chronic diseases, there is no quick fix. It will require a lifestyle change. But then, who wants to keep burning out? Before we can make those significant changes, we need to understand what causes burnout.

Burnout is like an onion with three layers. The first one is the burnout itself, the descent into chaos. Under that layer, we find two complementary causes.

Now, this isn't easy for me to say, and it won't be easy to hear. But I have to tell you the truth. And part of that truth is that these things exist in every homeschool--yes, in mine, too. Even worse, I came to see these hard truths through exposure to two seriously failed--and borderline abusive--homeschools. Yes, I know we're never supposed to mention such things. It confirms a distorted stereotype some have of us. But we're a mature movement by now. And, the larger the movement becomes, the more closely it mirrors the larger society. Besides, these two homes out of more than 600 I have met with on a regular basis, comprise less than 1/2 of one percent.

What I observed in these seriously failed homeschools, writ large, I began to
recognize in my own home, and in every home I visited.

March is burnout month.

Lots of Homeschoolers experience burnout this time of year.

You'll find some of the symptons (and their cures) on my Homeschool Essentials Website

Now, back to our irregularly scheduled blog. . .

First, is an inability to nurture. This led me to develop of a workshop on Nurture. I don't have time to go into all of that here, but it comes down to this: Children who perceive that they are loved, no matter what they do, will learn, and learn readily. It is too easy for us to "Manage by Exception," to only mention things that go wrong.

Children who only receive correction, and there are more than I once imagined, soon feel that everything they do, and everything they are is wrong. This leads to resentment, or worse, despair. It is a frightening thing to see a child depressed, and in despair. But I see more and more of this. Conscientious parents, wishing only the best for their children, but offering abundant correction and scant praise. And children depressed, despairing that they will ever please anyone.

The resentment or despondency generated in the children turns to resistance, apathy, and rebellion. The simplest tasks become the occasion for dramatic struggles. By March, even the most determined mother has had enough. Thus the burnout.

Tomorrow (or the next day?), I'll talk about the complementary cause, the reason that even some nurturing homes experience burnout time and again.


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