Homeschool anxiety is one of the most common struggles that I hear among home educators. As I introduced in An Honest Look At Homeschool Struggles, homeschoolers have a tremendous amount of responsibility wrapped up in their homeschool blessings. We will take a closer look at how these responsibilities (and the thoughts surrounding them) can lead to feelings of anxiety.
**Please note: I am not a medical professional. If you are experiencing anxiety (or any other mental health issue) that significantly interferes with your daily functioning, seek medical advice immediately. Also, this series on homeschool anxiety is directed toward the adult homeschooler. If your child is experiencing a significant degree of anxiety, consult a medial professional who specializes in treating children.
What Is Anxiety?
To get a better sense of why a homeschooler may experience anxiety to the point of struggle, let’s discuss anxiety. First, like most things in life, anxiety can serve a dual purpose.
It can be positive in the sense that a fear can trigger an individual to react to a sign of danger. Anxiety drifts into the negative side when it no longer serves a survival purpose and interferes with functioning and well-being.
Anxiety stems from an innate response for self-protection. Unfortunately, for some individuals, past experiences and personality types can develop an intense fear or worry response that produces some from of discomfort.
I would venture to say that all humans experience some form of anxiety along a continuum. Occasional anxiety, even mild anxiety on a regular basis, is typically manageable. Concern arises when the level of discomfort increases while everyday functioning decreases to the point of struggle.
What makes homeschoolers so different from the regular crowd that struggles with anxiety? Each homeschool family has its unique challenges, with the addition of educating their children. A few of these unique challenges include:
- family size–for anywhere from 1 to 10+ kids
- age gaps-large or small
- special needs
- different learning styles
- home management tasks–complicated with having a full house everyday and/or busy schedule
- financial –if one income or both must work but balance schedules
- academic–curriculum choice, subjects of study
- schedule–what time of day, how many hours
Of course, there are many other factors that may contribute to homeschool anxiety. All homeschoolers typically experience a degree of worry about how to best teach their kids at home. A struggle, however, results when one or more of these factors (and the thoughts about them ) create an unhealthy response.
What To Do About Homeschool Anxiety
Anxiety has a tricky way about it. It may creep subtly in, even when you least detect it. Maybe you are having a mediocre homeschool year. You may start to wonder if you are doing enough read-alouds and science experiments. Are their gaps in your children’s educations? Are your kids getting enough socialization? You break down into sobs and feel like giving up.
Or perhaps you are having a grand homeschool day and cheerily open a magazine to read an article about the latest and greatest in homeschool curricula. In an instant (depending on your thoughts and personal experiences), you may begin to question your math or science choice. You may find your thoughts run at such a fast clip that in a matter of seconds you have decided that you are ruining your children’s future for not having that Holy Grail of curricula. You start to pace back and forth, trying to figure out what to do.
I could go on and on with examples of homeschool anxiety. The important takeaway here is that your concern or worry makes you stop in your homeschool tracks and question your approach. It starts to ooze its way into all the tiny pores of your homeschool, resulting in discontent and frustration.
The good news: You have the power to overcome homeschool anxiety! You are in control. You are at the steering wheel and capable of veering off into the land of peace and calm.
Before I get to the juicy tips and tricks, I want to share the real life experiences of a homeschool friend who battles with anxiety. My friend has shared with me about her almost constant state of anxiety. This battle has been lifelong but intensified after having her children and starting their homeschooling experience.
She states that she becomes, “extremely irritable and tend to overcomplicate or overschedule things and then crash because I have overworked myself.” My friend loses sleep due to her anxiety, making her either constantly tired or sleep late. She has taken both natural supplements and medications but felt their effects wore off or did not work.
In an effort to overcome anxiety, my friend finds it helpful to simplify as much as possible. Also, having her family help with chores and regularly using a crockpot for make-ahead meals helps to decrease her anxiety level.
Her approach to overcoming homeschool anxiety is on the right track. I would add:
- Determine who or what is setting off the anxious response–if possible, find a way to remove (like magazine article) or handle (list of responses to homeschool doubter)
- Plan Ahead–Take time to closely look at situations that induce anxiety. Brainstorm various ways that you could respond in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
- Use of self-help books, quotes, scripture or web sites for encouragement and direction. My #1 source of encouragement is the Bible. Create a personal list of encouraging resources and refer to as needed.
- Relaxation techniques–I shared a few that I personally use in How To Practice Self-Care With Faith-Filled Relaxation and How To Use Self-Guided Relaxation To Boost Your Homeschool Life.
- Downtime–I know how very busy homeschoolers can get. Find a hobby or interest that you truly enjoy and set aside time each day for it.
- Support!— Talk with family and friends who understand and accept homeschooling.If you are looking for a wonderfully supportive group of homeschoolers, check out homeschoolscopes.tv, a Facebook group for homeschoolers on Periscope. You will find me on Periscope on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays around 3pm ET talking about Overcoming Homeschool Struggles. (Also, at 8am ET for Rock Your Homeschool!, a positive boost to your day)
Overcoming #Homeschool Anxiety-Part 2 of blog & Periscope series #ihsnet Click To Tweet
I will be sharing more about ways to overcome homeschool anxiety and other struggles in my scopes and upcoming ebook that will provide specific action steps to take to turn struggle into serenity . Make sure to subscribe to Busy Boys Brigade Bulletin for updates so you don’t miss!