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When It All Falls Apart


The curriculum order was in. The plan was set. Everything was in place for the new year. I was so excited, as I always am, to start afresh with new books and the new year’s focus. I knew we’d have our ups and our downs, but I was confident that God had guided me to teach my children yet another year. And I was confident he would continue to equip me in every way to teach everything my children needed.

Then science threw me for a loop.

I have always been weak in physics and chemistry. I determined early on in my homeschooling venture that I would not let that scare me, though. It couldn’t be that hard to learn physics and chemistry alongside my children, right? But, just a few weeks into fourth grade science, I knew I was in trouble.

We had a great curriculum, and a great plan. But, whenever my girls asked questions about what we were learning, I couldn’t go beyond what was in black and white in front of me. And, if my teacher’s guide didn’t thoroughly explain every challenging question I was supposed to ask them, I was lost.

The carefully laid plan had fallen apart.

Even worse, I was the one who frequently encouraged other prospective homeschoolers by telling them that as long as they were willing to learn, they could teach their children! How could I ever encourage other moms again if I couldn’t even get through a fourth grade introductory science curriculum? And how could I teach through high school if I couldn’t teach elementary science?

I started praying.

You would have thought I’d have done that from the beginning. But, instead of beginning my year with prayer, I began it with an assumption. I assumed that God had me taken care of simply because we were being obedient to homeschool. Instead of specifically praying over our new year, I just stepped out in pride, confidence . . . and my own strength.

As I prayed, I became increasingly convinced something had to change. But I had no idea where to begin to make changes, and I knew we couldn’t afford a whole new science curriculum. So, I finally sat down to talk it out with my husband. Without hesitation, he looked at me and said, “Why don’t I teach it?”

His question stopped me in my tracks. It was such a simple solution. He’s so strong in science. He gets it. And he’s an excellent teacher. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? (Hmm . . . it couldn’t be that whole pride and assumptions without prayer thing, could it?)

We had to rearrange our school schedule a bit, fitting science into blocks that could fit around his work schedule. But, it worked!

Suddenly, science took on a whole new life. My husband was filling in the gaps, answering questions with ease, and expanding on what was presented in the curriculum to truly get it to sink in for all of us. Science was fun for the first time in a long time. And to top it all off, my husband had found a way to fulfill his desire to become a more active part of our school days.

What best laid plans of yours have fallen apart?

Maybe it’s your schedule. Maybe a subject that you just can’t teach. Maybe a curriculum choice that hasn’t clicked for you. The thing about homeschooling is that one size really doesn’t fit all. In fact, I highly doubt that there’s anyone out there who successfully homeschools exactly like we do.

So, while we can definitely find ideas, encouragement, and help from one another, there’s really only One who can show us exactly how to put the plan back together in a functional way. It might be some miraculous intervention, or it might be something as utterly simple as opening our eyes to a solution that’s been right in front of us all along. All it takes is asking.

In addition to working as managing editor for HEDUA, Ann is a missionary kid, second generation homeschooler, pastor's wife, and mom of three. She loves encouraging and equipping others, especially women in the homeschooling and ministry communities.

  • Lindsay

    We had a similar situation this school year. We started my 4yo in Kindergarten basics, just reading, history, geography, and Bible because she was ready. But we tried to jump right into a full schedule this year when she turned 5 and that didn’t work. She HATED science. Not only that, we went from a 1-2 hour school day to 5-6 hours. It was torture. So I ditched the science and went with the Burgess Bird/Animal/Seashore Books (much better fit for my reader), and ended up doing block scheduling instead of doing each subject per day.
    All that to say, we ended up taking over 6 weeks off of school to make all the changes (and for me to get over my pride), but we have a much better fit now. Thinking outside the box is really hard sometimes, but once it works, it’s all worth it.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:58 am Reply
  • Greta R

    Wow thanks for sharing. I have the same problem, mine is math.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:40 am Reply
  • melyssa

    You’re not alone. I still have to stop and think if one of my kids asks me if the sun revolves around our planet or vice versa, or what exactly makes the clouds and rain… There’s a lot of me saying “well, that’s something you should look up…” or “what do YOU think?” as I desperately stall for time. I really need to post this Anonymously, huh????

    February 23, 2012 at 10:49 am Reply
    • Jenna

      In science I am the same way. I just tell my daughter “I don’t know the answer to that let’s look it up on the internet”. I don’t think they actually expect us to know all the answers.

      February 23, 2012 at 11:26 am Reply
  • Lori Chapman

    My stress this year turned out to be juggling the new baby with a teaching intensive curriculum. I found God slowed us down and we ended up picking up curriculum I never thought we would use. Our days are different as night is from day but now our girls are far more self motivated and enjoying the year and the baby much more. I had to swallow my pride and be willing to change everything.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm Reply
  • Tonia C

    I have to run a daycare out of my home in order to be able to stay home….needless to say, there is a HUGE learning curve to how to juggle both schooling and 6 other kids. It has taken nearly all year and a lot of stepping back and trying different approaches, but I feel like we’ve got it now. God has surely been teaching me flexibility!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:04 am Reply
  • Kathy Wright

    I feel like you just read my mail as they say. Same thing, here!!! Even the husband conversation……except that the Lord is still dismantling my pride….the stuff that, when it goes, will allow me to say “yes,” to my husband’s idea of teaching math. See, he’s a pilot, so on the days when he is home he could easily handle math with my 3rd and 6th grader. Hmm… I’m really thinking!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:06 am Reply
  • Jane DeLoatch

    What do you do when problems with your family cause interruptions in homeschool? How do you keep yourself motivated? I could really use some advice. Thank You

    February 24, 2012 at 12:09 am Reply
    • Sara Borden

      Eventually, I remember that they are God’s children and this is God’s school for them, and if He wants them to spend these particular days learning how to prepare for a funeral, or what to do when you family has the flu, or how to take care of a brother’s or sister’s special needs, then that’s what we do and it becomes part of the “curriculum” for that year. Traditional schools have to adjust their schedules for snow days, earthquakes, community tragedies, etc.; so it’s not a unique problem to home-schools to have to change the schedule now and then.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:02 am Reply
    • Ann

      Jane, that has long been one of my biggest struggles with homeschooling! Family problems, sickness, the demands of being the pastor’s family and the need to take off here and there. I still struggle with it, but I’ve learned a few things that have helped me grow.

      1) Sara’s right – even public schools have to make adjustments, and a lot of time they cut things out to fit it all in! Only in about the past two years have I learned that it’s okay to not do it all. We have to be prayerful about what we do and don’t do, but we can skip things!
      2) This doesn’t work for everyone, but we don’t follow a traditional schedule. We school year-round and take off when we need to. For example, today is our last day before a five-week break, simply because we all are in need of it! The year-round schooling helps us keep a family structure and takes the stress off me to get it all done by a specific date. We still “promote” the kids at the same time public school begins each year, but otherwise we do our own thing.
      3) And the hardest – just determine to get back to it. If there’s a day or a week that doesn’t go right for whatever reason, we’ll take a day to intentionally recoup and then just make the choice to get back to it. I talk the kids through this, and that helps their attitude as well.

      I hope that helps a little! Praying for you!!

      February 24, 2012 at 9:06 am Reply
  • Salina

    My problem is with my schedule I can’t figure out a way to make every thing fit the way I want it.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:13 am Reply
    • Ann

      Salina, I’ve struggled with that many times. I’ve discovered that I have to change our schedule just about every quarter. It will go well for a while and then start to fall apart. So, I make a fresh list of everything that needs to go in to every day, spend time praying over it, and then work it all out with Bible in hand and prayer in my heart. I never can figure it out on my own. God always gives me a “lightbulb moment” to help me see exactly what needs to be tweaked.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:10 am Reply
  • Bobbi Sheahan

    I needed some encouragement today! My goals for today were to tidy up the kitchen with the cooperation of the kids and get a lot of math done with the kids. Ah, tomorrow’s another day. Thanks for sharing this!

    February 24, 2012 at 12:35 am Reply
  • Deb Dixson

    I recently put my third grade son in public school.I will be bringing him back home in the fall to school.He is 9 and a perfectionist.Anyone have any ideas on how I can better help him??

    February 24, 2012 at 8:33 am Reply
    • Ann

      I don’t know what specific issues you deal with, but as a perfectionist myself I can give a couple of general thoughts.

      1) Reduce the number of repetitive exercises. They just add time and frustration to a perfectionist.
      2) Teach him that scratch paper is his friend and that it’s supposed to be messy! Scratch paper helps him keep him “real” work clean. Yes, it will mean he’s writing some things twice, but I guarantee it will save time.

      God has really worked on my perfectionism over the years, so there are so many things that I don’t even think about any more. But, if other ideas come to me I’ll share them. I can’t wait to see what other commenters have to say!

      February 24, 2012 at 9:17 am Reply
  • Ann

    I’ve loved reading all of your comments! The greatest help and encouragement I’ve had through every homeschooling issue has been the knowledge that I’m not the only one!

    February 24, 2012 at 9:12 am Reply
  • Aubra

    I asked my husband to teach science too; And its really just boy time for him and my son which is so important. I started out with a full curriculum for 1st grade and now the only subjects we do are reading, math, and bible and only 3 days a week. I felt so guilty like I was lazy when I started to let up on the the curriculum but he wasn’t learning very well being so stressed out and overwhelmed. Thanks for the article; its good to know we are all in this together.

    February 24, 2012 at 11:18 am Reply
  • Beth

    I am so thankful that I ran into this website! This past year was my first year homeschooling. I started out in a camper ( we’re remodeling) and then took off almost 2 weeks in Nov. to move into the far from finished house. Mid Dec. I came down with walking pneumonia and was sick for the rest of the winter. Stayed with my parents for a month, because of the ongoing illness and bounced around to temporary living situations all spring, because my husband had the house too torn apart for us to move back into! Needless to say, homeschooling was sporadic. I’ve sobbed many times, and wished and wished we had put our boy in public school, if not just for the last half of kindergarten. This year exceeded my worst fears in some ways, -and I had fears, because I saw how much work my mom had to do, homeschooling us, and how homeschooers sometimes failed. I am looking for curriculum for 1st grade, and hoping to get organized this time. Thanks for the reminder to pray and have faith in God!

    June 11, 2015 at 1:45 pm Reply

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