Homeschool Burnout: An Interview with Diana Waring

March 11–15, 2013   |   Vol. 115, Programs 16–20

This week on Home School Heartbeat, author Diana Waring offers her discoveries to help keep your homeschool vibrant and joyful.

“Homeschool mom, my proactive prescription is to allow yourself and your kids much more lightheartedness, creativity, and delight in your homeschooling day.” —Diana Waring

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Reaping the Harvest: The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling

Reaping the Harvest: The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling

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Are you having a hard time finding motivation for the new school year? You could be suffering from homeschool burnout. Join us today on Home School Heartbeat as author Diana Waring discusses what this burnout might look like.

Mike Smith: We’re privileged to have with us today Diana Waring, author of Reaping the Harvest: The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling. Diana, it’s great to have you on the program!

Diana Waring: Thanks, Mike! It’s delightful to be with you today!

Mike: Well, Diana, homeschool burnout is a big problem hitting a lot of parents in homeschooling. Would you please tell us what burnout is, and exactly what are the symptoms?

Diana : Well, Mike, first of all, it’s awful! It attacks homeschool moms and begins to destroy their motivation, their excitement, their joy in homeschooling. It starts with that feeling of frustration. Finding that things are more difficult than you expected them to be, but it just keeps getting harder, and you run out of resources, you run out of strength, out of ideas; there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It can make you resentful, angry, even hard, or make you want to quit. So burnout is that feeling of defeat and hopelessness, that no matter how hard you try, you’re going to fail. Symptoms can include an utter lack of joy in your day-to-day homeschooling; that it’s a complete drudgery, a burdensome duty, a sense that though others succeed, you won’t. And it seems obvious to you that the only option available is to give up.

Mike : Well, thanks so much for that very clear explanation, Diana! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Today Diana Waring, author of Reaping the Harvest: The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling, is with us. And, Diana, how can homeschool parents prevent burnout before it even happens?

Diana Waring: As homeschoolers, we feel an incredible pressure to succeed, so we often burden ourselves and our kids with too many activities, materials that are too advanced; or we try to force them through their studies too quickly. So, homeschool mom, my proactive prescription is to allow yourself and your kids much more lightheartedness, creativity, and delight in your homeschooling day. Take some time to step back and study your kids, to find out what motivates them, what they enjoy learning as well as what they struggle with. And with that in mind, map out a schedule with lots of time for imaginative play and creativity, with plenty of laughter and fun. Add in some great joke books, some fun games, some delightful read-aloud adventure storybooks. It’s amazing how just a few tweaks can change the way our kids experience homeschool, which translates into a much more joyous journey for us all.

Mike: Well, I know our listeners will really appreciate those tips, Diana. And thanks for sharing them with us today! And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Diana, as you know, homeschooling can be challenging even on an average day. It’s a lot harder when a family’s already experiencing homeschooling burnout, however. For those families, would you share some strategies parents can use to renew their homeschool?

Diana Waring : Well, yes, Mike. The first step is to follow what you know from Scripture about difficult times. Read the Word, pray, and seek God’s help. Give thanks in all things, and keep your heart soft before Him as you follow His direction. All homeschool moms face troubles of some kind. So, as a second step to diffusing the burnout, find someone trustworthy and safe to talk to. As you talk to another homeschool mom about what’s going on, you’ll discover that you’re not alone. And you may also get some helpful feedback on changes to make. Another strategy is to look back to the last time things were okay in your homeschool and then consider what has changed. If your kids have become resistant, you need to find out why. What happened to them? If it’s you, the homeschool mom, that’s feeling stress, then with a friend’s help, identify what the factors are that crept in and made it seem all too hard.

Mike : Diana, thanks so much for sharing that tremendously helpful advice. I know our listeners will really appreciate it. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Diana, in your book Reaping the Harvest: The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling, you talk about what a great abundant-life homeschool can really look like. Would you please explain to our listeners what you mean by abundant-life homeschooling?

Diana Waring : You know, I believe that we were designed with an enormous capacity for enjoying learning. We have the gift of loving good hard work as long as it’s appropriate and interesting to us. So if we begin with that in mind, it will help us create a learning environment for our children that encourages this joy in learning, this creative bent, the delight in working hard on what they find fascinating. Abundant-life homeschooling means that we start with God’s design for us. We rethink the cultural model of pushing kids through a factory-style learning system, and we begin to walk a journey of delight in learning that allows each of our children to thrive. We can start right now where we are with the kids we have, the circumstances of our own lives, with something as simple as implementing Proverbs 16:21 into our homeschool day, which says, “Sweetness of lips increases learning.” Mike, all of us would love to learn in that setting!

Mike: Well, what a great word picture, Diana, and thanks for sharing that vision with us today. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Diana, for your last question, would you share what lessons you and your husband had to go through before you learned how to have an abundant life in homeschool?

Diana Waring: You know, Mike, I started off with a desk, a flag, an apple, a boxed curriculum, and not a clue about how kids really learn! And it was all downhill from there, let me tell you. I think the clincher was when, three years into my homeschooling, I attended a support group meeting, and all of the other moms there seemed to be so incredibly successful, while I was feeling like the worst kind of failure. You know, it was October, and we still weren’t making any progress in our textbooks, so I was ready to throw in the towel, but it was at that point when I finally told my husband, the professional educator, that I couldn’t do it anymore, and he said, “Well, let’s pray, and ask God how to do this.” And that was the life-changing moment for us, because, within a few days of praying that simple prayer, I began meeting people, and reading books that spoke directly to this issue of loving learning! I learned that learning was designed to be fun, and that made it a whole different ballgame.

Mike: Well, what an encouraging story, Diana. We’ve loved having you on the program, and thanks for joining us. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Diana Waring

Diana Waring, author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and the History Revealed curriculum published by Answers in Genesis, discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.”  Beginning in the early 80’s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school - providing the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn. Mentored by educators whose focus was to honor Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana has been enthusiastically received by audiences on four continents.

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