The November Conundrum – 3 Questions to Ask

(Written by Dana Wood)

Are you experiencing the November Conundrum? A conundrum is a brain teaser or a puzzlement. The November Conundrum is the question- why are the carefully laid plans you made last summer for the perfect homeschool a bust? Are some things working well and some things working their way toward disaster? Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to know what is working and what isn’t.

  1. Is it a curriculum problem?
  2. Is it a time management/scheduling problem?
  3. Is it a parenting/ relationship problem?

For question number 1, understanding education philosophies will save you hundreds of dollars. It can help you know when you look at a curriculum if it’s a good fit for your family. The more you know, the better choices you will make when choosing curricula to meet your family’s needs. If you want an explanation of homeschool philosophies, check out this class from the audio library. 

The first part of question 2 is simple. How much time do you spend at home? It can be difficult to get schoolwork done if you are always busy. It is easy to over-schedule with co-ops, play dates, and extra activities. With that can come burnout, so when you are home, everyone is too tired to do anything. Creating a time map of all your weekly activities can tell you where you are spending your time. If it shows you spending too much time in any one area, you can make adjustments. 

 If being away from home isn’t the problem, then it might be helpful to switch things up with time blocking. Time blocking can be done in two ways, daily or weekly. With daily time blocking, you block time for deep work or work that requires focus. Then schedule activities that are more hands-on, or take less focus. Don’t forget break time too. Rotating between focus levels helps keep your kids fresh. 

Weekly time blocking is doing the 3 R’s daily, but scheduling your other subjects all in one day. Your history studies are on Monday, Science on Tuesdays, and Art History and art classes on Wednesday, etc. This works well for younger kids and kids who like to hyper-focus on a topic. It can also give you time to do those fun projects you think you can’t fit in. 

Another management skill is to gather your materials together before school. I like to gather all my school materials for the week into a crate or basket. If everything we need is in that basket, we don’t waste time looking for things or giving up on that activity. Each morning after breakfast, the basket comes out and we are ready to begin. 

The last question requires a hard look at the relationships in your home. One thing that can stand in the way of homeschool success is your relationship with your kids and your parenting skills. Also at play are the relationships your kids have with each other. Do you take time to be the mom or are you always in teacher mode? Are you a martyr to your homeschool? Do you need to beef up your parenting skills? Are your kids civil with each other? One of my favorite books on siblings is “Siblings without Rivalry” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Here is a favorite parenting class from the Audio library that might be helpful.  Or this one by LeeAnn Earl on Managing Conflict. These can help you know if this is the source of your conundrum. 

The November Conundrum is not a sign of failure. Asking these questions can be a tool to fine-tune the flow of your homeschool and move you into more effective learning and better relationships. And that’s always a win.