How to avoid burnout as a Muslim homeschooler

How to avoid burnout as a Muslim homeschooler?

If you’ve been homeschooling for a while you may experienced burnout personally or at least known others who have.  Homeschooling has so many benefits but like everything worthwhile, it also has its challenges.  Burnout however is not inevitable.   It’s defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.  At no point in your homeschooling journey should you feel so stressed for so long that you become absolutely exhausted.  Does it happen? Absolutely but it doesn’t have to.  In the same way that some people get injured when they exercise but it doesn’t have to happen and there are steps to take to avoid it.  

Renew your intention and define focus

The most important step to take to avoid burnout is to renew your intention and make duaa.  When you think about why you are a Muslim homeschooler in the first place, it brings you a lot of clarity.  Most Muslim homeschoolers are seeking the reward of Allah while educating their children, they want to give them an Islamic foundation and protect them from certain harms.  You may have other objectives too but that desire to please Allah and fulfill your duty as a parent is the core aim.  Renewing our intention reminds us of what is truly important in our homeschool and gives a natural boost of motivation and patience.  

Additionally, refocusing on homeschooling for Allah’s pleasure naturally leads to making more duaa and seeking His help.  You might feel like you can’t handle the stress but with Allah’s help absolutely anything is possible.  

It also helps to define our focus.  It is so easy to pick up additional goals along the way that end up adding unnecessary stress.  Renewing our intention helps to remind us why we even felt compelled to homeschool in the first place and is the first step to prioritising what really matters to us.

Don’t try to do it all

This new focus on what’s important should give you clarity on what to drop in your homeschool.  It’s not possible to do absolutely everything well.  That’s not a call to be unambitious but rather to work out what is truly important to you and to direct your time and energy there.  The measure of a great homeschool isn’t breadth of subjects or activities.  Fulfilling beneficial education within a context that everyone (including you as the homeschooling parent) is happy is a much better aim than a number of subjects or facts learnt.

Happy Muslim Homeschool has a wonderful blog section that focuses on a lot of these issues.  I highly recommend you check it out.  I definitely defer to Umm Saleh’s superior expertise on this subject.  There is a whole section on burnout but this post title ‘Homeschool Burnout Already?’ is a great place to start.

Combine and multi-task where possible

A major challenge of Muslim homeschoolers is trying to teach Islamic subjects as well as English, Maths, Science etc.  A great tip for avoiding burnout is to introduce Islamic content into other subjects which reduces your ‘to-do’ list.  You can read more about ways to introduce Islamic content here.  A great example are Islamic reading comprehensions, they use passages with Islamic content such as the Child Sahaba to develop reading skills.  You can check out an example here.

Another common way of multi-tasking is by teaching multiple kids the same topic at the same time.  An example of this would be the Arabian Peninsula Unit Study which contains a core lesson to teach kids of varying ages but then worksheets and extension activities that are catered for their specific stage.  You can download the first lesson in this study for free when you access the free resource library here.  

If it doesn’t work, leave it

There are a lot of amazing homeschooling resources and strategies out there but they are not all suitable for your family.  That beautiful set of phonics hands-on activities just might not work for you at the stage of life and homeschooling you are at.  If it isn’t yielding results or it’s stressing you out, leave it.  

Another common mistake is sticking to a curriculum or method because it worked for another child.  One of my kids really thrived using an online maths subscription, I loved it too.  It was easy to fit into our day and I could really see the progress being made.  It did not work for my other kids.  One dreaded it and the other one enjoyed it but didn’t seem to be learning.  It was best just to recognize that it wasn’t working and leave it.  

It can feel like giving up but it’s actually a really positive thing. You cut the stress of spending time on an ineffective strategy and it leaves you free to find something that is a good fit for you.

Schedule Breaks to Beat Burnout

Schools have holidays for a reason. Everyone returns refreshed, pupils AND teachers (well, if they haven’t spent their entire holiday sick if you know you know!) I don’t mean those days when you have to take a day off because something comes up or there’s an outing or appointment.  I mean a week when you plan ahead of time to take the specified time off.  It relieves you of the mental burden, you weren’t ‘mean’t’ to be working.  It also allows you to plan time for yourself to do things that refresh you without any pressure.  I personally think these need to be interspersed throughout the year.  It’s best not to power through and then take a massive summer break. Breaks are like coming up for air and they are necessary at regualar intervals.

Breaks can also be within your homeschool day.  It’s amazing what ten minutes of alone time and a cup of tea can do.

Burnout can happen when you expect yourself to be working continually for months on end.

Do not compare

The old adage that comparison is the thief of joy is so relevant to homeschooling.  It’s especially important because homeschooling is like planting seeds.  You don’t see the results straight away, sometimes it takes much longer to see results but it doesn’t mean that you haven’t been successful.   Kids who read early don’t always go onto greater academic success than kids that slower starters.  Einstein famously didn’t speak until he was 4.  

More importantly in our homeschools, we are trying to instil an Islamic foundation and the objective is Jannah.  None of us will know about the ultimate success until after this life is over.  You don’t know if that other homeschool you are comparing to yours is truly successful.  

Burnout is caused by unrealistic expectations and nothing is more unrealistic than expecting to keep up with all the other homeschools out there.

It’s also a massive distraction from the important work we have in our homeschools.  You, your kids and your circumstances are completely different to everyone else.  If you see something you like in another homeschool, ask Allah to bless them and increase them in goodness and move on.

Accept Help to Avoid Burnout

Accepting help and outsourcing are fundamental to your success.  Accepting you can’t (or simply don’t want to) do it all is incredibly freeing.  It also allows you to look for people to assist your homeschool.

Here are some suggestions for getting help:

  1. Get tutors for other lessons
  2. Join a homeschool co-op
  3. Assign a task to an older kid (such as listening to reading or arts and crafts)
  4. Accept help with cleaning (either hire a cleaner if within your budget or accept any kind offers that come your way)
  5. Subscribe to an online educational platform that kids can engage with independently
  6. Ask your spouse to help with a specific task
  7. Buy ready-made resources that save you time rather than creating everything yourself

Join a Community

Ideally, it would be great if everyone had a homeschooling community.  It’s inspiring to see what ideas others have and highly motivating too.  They often have experience and wisdom that you can benefit from too.  A group of people who understand the unique challenges of homeschooling is a great resource.

If you don’t have a whole group, it’s amazing what a difference even just one homeschooling friend can make.  They understand where you are coming from and the feeling that you aren’t the only one is very reassuring.  I remember venting to my friend about how frustrating I found teaching telling the time to one of my kids, she laughed and told me she had to walk away and take a deep breath one day when she was teaching the same topic.  It was such a relief to know it wasn’t just me and it made returning to the lesson the next day so much easier!  The emotional side of burnout is often from feeling alone and even just one fellow homeschooler can help solve that.


Free resources to help you teach kids about Islam

I hope you have found these tips for avoiding burnout as a Muslim homeschooler helpful.  If you would like to get a FREE resource to help connect Muslim kids to the Qur’an then join the mailing list here to download a fun activity pack about one of the Animals in the Qur’an, the ant, and gain access to the free resource library.

Here are some other blog posts you may be interested in:

5 ways to introduce Islamic Content into other subjects

Homeschool Organization and Structure Strategies

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