The first year that I homeschooled Ben, we were only doing Kindergarten. Now, I know that we really could have just done school every other day and been perfectly fine. Then, I was idiotically nervous that I was going to ruin his life by depriving him of a "real school" experience.
I was like a drill sergeant that first year. We stood and said the pledge of allegiance every morning. I followed the teacher's manuals to the letter; we didn't miss a single thing.
Our school day only took about an hour. I noticed other kindergartners were at school for four hours or more every day. Clearly, I was leaving something out. Those school kids must be learning a lot more than my homeschooler!
Ben really loved our history program, so I bought a second history program and we did it also. He really enjoyed science experiments, so I bought two science programs and we did both of them.
Then, since we still were done way before the other kids got home from school, I also added in a Spanish program.
Ben was practically ready to enter Harvard by the end of that first year.
The problem was that I nearly burned us both out. I was so driven to make this work I jumped in with both feet and promptly when in right over my head.
After doing Language Arts, Math, two History lessons, two science lessons, Reading, and Writing Ben didn't really want to sit and do a Social Studies lesson. And I would burst into tears because he was going to get behind and I was a failure as a teacher, a mother, and human being in general.
I remember one day I was reading a science lesson to him about weather systems. I asked him, "Okay, which one rises? Hot air? Or cold air?" He looked at me like a deer in the headlights and said, "Ummmmmm........baseball?"
Clearly, I had lost his attention.
I finally started to relax when someone pointed out to me that at school, a lot of time is taken up with handing out homework, taking up papers, lining up to go outside, going to the bathroom, working with individual students, recess, lunch, etc. etc. One teacher mentioned to me that she probably spent less than an hour actually teaching.
That's when a little light bulb went on over my head. I though, "Oh! That's what I do too!"
So I backed off. We dropped all the extra programs that we really didn't need. We spent a lot more time playing and just enjoying ourselves. Ben became more relaxed about doing school when I wasn't cracking whip over his head trying to turn him into Einstein before he was seven.
That's one of the first things I tell new homeschoolers: Just Relax.
Unfortunately, it is the hardest thing to do. But I promise - if you just relax and don't push too hard, it will all get done. And it won't take much time.
And your kids will be just fine.