After 8 years of homeschooling, I’m giving up

by Elizabeth


I give up. After eight years of homeschooling, I just can’t take it anymore.

Wait a minute, WHAT?!

No, I’m not giving up homeschooling.

But I AM switching to a different kind of schedule.

For years I avoided the way “expert” homeschoolers scheduled their school year, with six weeks on and one week off.

I was afraid that kind of rhythm would make the school year last forever and that I wouldn’t have a significant enough summer break to recharge.

Who wants to do school all the time?? And school all the time is exactly what that approach sounded like. I opted for the “traditional” school schedule instead.

Practically speaking, what that meant was that we plowed through our weeks and plowed through our months and plowed through our years, desperately trying to get to that elusive “perfect” summer.

(And also, it meant desperately trying to squeeze in as much school as possible before that very interrupting excursion known as the missionary furlough.)

But what I’ve discovered (took me long enough, huh?) was that going without adequate breaks is just not good for us, even if those breaks, when they come, are adequately long.

One simply cannot push hard for 12 weeks straight (or more) without a break and not lose some small part of their mind.

I had avoided the six-weeks-on-one-week-off approach out of fear that I would feel like we were “doing school” all the time, yet ironically, what I felt in going the traditional route was that we were doing school all the time.

So even though I’d heard about the 6-on-1-off approach before my oldest was even in preschool, I rejected it out of hand.

And lived to suffer the consequences.

This year I hit a point when I realized enough was enough. I couldn’t take any more hustle. I couldn’t take any more hurry. I was done with the way we were doing things.

That’s part of the reason we’re extending our third term by half a year: to be able to get into a better rhythm and routine with school and ministry.

(And also, because I was tired of feeling like my toes and fingers were freezing off in that blasted Missouri winter.)

Next school year, we’re doing things differently. We’ll take a pretty short summer break and start our next school year soon after finishing this school year.

But then we’ll take much more regular breaks throughout the school year, before heading back to the States for a few months – this time without school work.

(Why did it take me two entire home assignments to figure out that meaningful school work is just NOT going to get done while dragging a family of six across the United States?? What can I say, I’m a slow learner.)

The upside of all this? Many Cambodian and international holidays fall easily into a 6-week rotation (we have a lot of holidays here), meshing our schedule better with both father and friends.

Another upside? Getting to skip half of hot season next year.

I only wish I had listened to the experts earlier.

Some people call this approach Sabbath schooling, as it mimics the Biblical pattern of six days of work followed by one day of rest.

Others call it year-round schooling, since it stretches the school year out longer (though it doesn’t quite reach the level of studying the entire year).

Whatever you call it, I’m claiming it as my own.  I’m giving up my entrenched public school ways and adopting newer, more sustainable ways.

And if you, like me, are worn out and exhausted, maybe you need to, too.

Forced Shut Down

by Elizabeth


I don’t shut down my computer on a daily basis. It takes so long for my computer to shut down and later restart that it saves me time not to do it. At least, I think it saves time.

But then my computer starts running hot and slow and loud. Sometimes a little warning box even pops up, telling me it needs to shut down in order to install updates. It needs a reboot so it can download newer, fresher versions of my programs.

Most of the time I ignore the slowly loading programs and pages, the constantly whirring fan, and the overheating machine resting on my toasty, tropical lap. And I click a button and override that pesky little warning box.

Eventually though, my computer forces a shut down. And since I usually haven’t been shutting it down on a regular basis, it can take up to 30 minutes or more to close down, install updates, and restart.

I usually roll my eyes in annoyance when this happens, because I can’t get things done with those 30 minutes! I am instead forced to wait. But after all that waiting, the computer runs cooler and faster and quieter.

I treat myself just like I treat my computer. I don’t shut down on a daily basis. I run my life hot and loud and rushed, and I tell myself it saves time. It’s efficient. It gets things done.

But I’m wrong, and just like my computer, I sometimes need a forced shut down. And this past week, through quite an unexpected channel, I received just that: my husband left town and headed to the mountains of Europe for a work conference.

I dread my husband going out of town like I dread those recurring computer shut downs. But this time, his trip forced a shut down in me — a shut down I desperately needed.

I couldn’t leave the house to work or do ministry. By myself, I couldn’t even do as much at home. So I didn’t try to. I slowed down. I scaled back. We did our basic lessons. Then we played. We read. We laughed. We met with friends.

I rested. I did less. I started gently re-evaluating my plans and priorities. And the week reset me. I’m running better now. Less panic and more patience. Less self-condemnation and more calm. Less internal swelter and more farsightedness.

I probably still need some more reboots. But I’m running quieter and more efficiently. I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. I needed a forced shut down, and thank God, He sent me one.

Let me tell you about Kassiah Jones {A Life Overseas}

Elizabeth is over at A Life Overseas today, sharing a spiritual lesson she learned this month.


This month my husband and I took our kids to the local home school co-op’s spring performance. Some of our friends were in the play. It was called “The Race” and was an original play based loosely on the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

Every character in this play was modeled after an animal. There was a bear and a sparrow and a fennec fox (among others), but the character that most captured my attention was the character modeled after the ant. Her name was Kassiah Jones, and she never knew when to quit.

When it was time for the village inhabitants to prepare for the annual race, Kassiah trained harder than all the rest. She worked hard and never knew when to stop.

On race day Kassiah was in the lead, far ahead of the others, for the first three laps. But on the fourth lap she didn’t come back around the curtain with the rest of the runners. At the end of the race, after somebody else had won, the villagers went in search of her. They found her, collapsed from exhaustion, and had to carry her out on a stretcher.

Finish reading this post here.