How To Not Burn Your Children Out
One of the potential parenting mistakes that any parent, not just those who home school can make, is to push children too hard. There is definitely a fine line between encouraging their talents and becoming a pushy mom, pushing them down one route because it is what you, not they, want.
All three of my children are gifted and each has different areas of talents. I try to make sure that I encourage them so that they can achieve their full potential but also that they are still having fun pursuing these talents. Similarly, there are areas I am talented in, particularly math, music and art. As a parent it can be tempting to encourage your children towards the subjects you enjoy and are talented in and enjoy. In some respects you could say that this is living your dreams through your children. I think this is a mistake.
I believe that one of the best ways of making sure that you are not pushing your children too hard is to keep open the lines of communication. Talk to your children about the things they enjoy and are passionate about, things they don’t enjoy and what their hopes, dreams and ambitions are for the future. If they have stopped enjoying something they are talented at it is important you know about it. This does not necessarily mean that they have to give up on these subjects; rather that you can look at different ways of them learning or taking a break from the current schedule with that particular topic.
Breaks and free time are important too. In a mainstream school, a child has breaks throughout the day. I think that as a homeschooling mother I also allow my children to have breaks in the learning day. Free time in the evenings and weekends are important too. A talented home-schooled child often has a tough schedule. Not only do they have their regular daytime lessons that are full of challenging activities to help them achieve their full potential, it is often the case that they have many extracurricular activities too, such as swimming clubs and music lessons. A few nights off planned activities can help them to relax and feel less pressured. This in turn will benefit their education and keep them motivated.
There are some signs that you should look out for that gives you a warning that your children are being pushed to hard. If they are fatigued, restless, unfocused, irritable or lacking in motivation, then it is possible that your child is showing signs of being pushed too hard.
A child who is pushed too hard may reach mental and physical burn out. Not only will this affect their learning, it can also potentially have detrimental effects on their health. From experience I know how hard it is to balance supporting your child to achieve their full potential and not pushing them too hard. However, I do think that if you follow the tips I have suggested that this balance is achievable.