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Feeling overwhelmed...already! Seeking guidance...


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I'm already feeling overwhelmed and burned out, and we are only finishing up week 3! I know I must be doing something wrong, but I'm not sure what! Im hoping to get some advice/suggestions on what I can do differently.

I have a 4 th grader who is reading well, but struggles a lot with her spelling. So, independently, she does math (everyday), ELTL (4 days), and her independent reading (Everyday). I do not have her do the dictation yet, because of her spelling, but she narrates to me what she's read and she does the Copywork assigned in ELTL. I also use RLTL with her 4 days a week to help with her spelling.

My 7 year old son is not reading yet, so all he does on his own is Math (everyday). Then he and I go through his ELTL lesson together (more reading for me) and I'm also using RLTL with him to teach reading/spelling. I try to have both my kids together for the RLTL lessons, but sometimes I work with each one separately.

I'm using Wayfarers and Quark, so I spend 1 1/2 - 2 hours every morning reading through all the readings, including our Scripture readings, geography, and depending on what day it is, Shakespeare and poetry. I'm usually exhausted by this time and we have yet to start a "just for fun" read aloud for the year...and I have sooo many great books on my shelf waiting to be read that I bought specifically for read aloud times. Plus, I'm wanting my kids to want to choose reading as their quiet time activity, or their "I'm bored activity", but I think they are feeling just as burned out as I am, so this never happens. I know not all the readings are suggested in Wayfareres, and I do not even do them all, so that's why I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at what I could be doing wrong.

I also have a 4 year old that I am trying to spend some one on one time with reading to (more reading for me) and helping her with her letters and numbers.

I would love to have my oldest daughter work more independently, but I'm not sure how to do this with my son not yet reading on his own. I know i must be doing something wrong, or is RLTL/ELTL/Wayfareres/Quark really this teacher intense? (this is our first year using all of it)


Thanks so much in advance for any help!

Edited by AFthfulJrney
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I'd cut down (or out) the extra readings with Wayfarers and Quark. DD read Quark on her own (but she's 12, and has no younger siblings) and just told me about what she read. If you have the teaching guide just do the questions orally, and maybe the experiment. Let the kids read the additional books on their own if you have time. 


Read Shakespeare and poetry over lunch (or use an audio for it - you can probably find something on Librivox if your budget is limited). 


The four year old should pick up a lot listening to the older kids' lessons, but if you use audiobooks for some things, you can save your stamina for the fun stuff like reading to her and your "just for fun" read-aloud. Another option is to save the fun read-aloud for bedtime and read it to all the kids before the youngest goes to bed.

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You could cut down to the 3Rs first and get your groove.  Then slowly add a subject each week until you are content with your day's contents and their flow.


Aren't many of ELTL's readings available through librivox?   


And like PP said, listen to audiobooks at mealtimes.  


You'll get your groove!  and kudos to you for being aware of burnout!


EDIT for another suggestion:  would you oldest be willing to help out with the reading aloud?  or reading to a sibling?


Edited by domestic_engineer
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Maybe split up the read aloud sections so not everything is at once. It doesn't exhaust you so much and gives variety to your kids. You could, for example, read something first, then go and do book/individual work, then come back to read again later - kind of like a reward for having done the other work 😊.


I start our day with some reading at breakfast, then we do chores. Kids start own book work while I read with dd's 6 and 4. Then I do maths and phonics etc with dd6 while others are still working individually. After morning tea I do readings with the next two (we use SL). Then after lunch we do some more family read alouds. So I'm still reading a lot but it's split up into segments. HTH

Edited by LindaOz
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I have not used the curriculum you mentioned, but wanted to offer :grouphug: .  As another member posted, try focusing on just the 3 R's and then slowly adding in other things.  It will get easier as you get more comfortable and start tweaking things to work for your family. 

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I have a 4th grader and I would completely drop the Shakespeare and poetry. And I would dial back the spelling. It sounds as if you are putting too much pressure on both of you. Breathe. You have plenty of time.


Your daughter has to want to read. That is what will help her most with spelling. I think too much structured "literature" too young can kill a love of reading. I let my daughter pretty much read whatever she wants. I have found that she has naturally graduated to better books, she has read the first three Harry Potter, but she still picks up Junie B Jones when she is in the mood. 


When I was in school I read quite a lot of "junk" books but I am still reading many years later... 

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:grouphug:  Hang in there! It's a lot like starting a new exercise or physical activity -- it takes time to get a rhythm, and you feel sore and exhausted for the first weeks until your body builds up stamina and muscle. Similarly, it's tough to transition into homeschooling, and into what the reality of how much time actual curricula takes to do in your own home. 


We always started our school years slowly with just a few core subjects for the first week, then add another subject or two the second week, and finally be fully underway by the third week. That allowed me a whole week for tweaking and shifting things around each time I added the next batch of subjects. ;)


Also, I hate to tell you this, but you'll need to be patient and persevere for quite awhile -- you are really in the thick of everyone needing you for everything, with only 1 student reading (but still young enough to need a lot of 1-on-1), AND teaching a younger one to read, PLUS having a pre-schooler who really can't do much at all and who probably has a very short attention for solo activities... In about 3 years, you'll be heading out of this teacher-time-intensive stage, but until then, take a deep breath, relax, and plan on how to pace yourself so YOU don't burn out with everyone needing you. :)


Ideas -- take or leave as it works for you:

- work in shorter blocks of time and loop lessons not finished to the next time it is scheduled

- reduce some subjects to fewer times per week (ex: History, Science, Geography each = 2x/week; Narration, Dictation, Shakespeare/poetry = 1x/week each)

- double dip: have DD do her solo reading as reading aloud to the 4yo -- occupies 4yo, gets her reading done, and you work 1-on-1 with the 7yo

- do those great read-aloud books as a family 3 evenings/week -- maybe include spouse to share some of the read-aloud load?

- maybe even consider temporarily dropping a few of the NON-core subjects (Geography, Shakespeare/Poetry) until you all get into the groove that works for all of you


Independent Work:

At this age/stage, it's hard to have very much independent work; what worked best for us as independent work in the elementary grades: supplements and support materials to the spine material that you are right there with them for. So, things like educational games, activities/hands-on, "fun pages", etc.


One idea I've read about on these boards that trains independence and learning skills that work up to how to manage your work load is work boxes. For now, since you all are new to homeschooling and because 2 of your 3 are not reading, I'd suggest sticking with workboxes for times when you are working 1-on-1 with one child, and the work box time is to keep the other children busy with some useful activities. Idea: have one morning and one afternoon "work box time" for each child. Have 3 workboxes, each with an activity or project to cover about 10 minutes (or two boxes that each take 15 min. or 1 = 10 min, the other 20 min -- OR -- just 1 box with an activity that will take 30 minutes), and they are activities that can be done solo. Mix and match, so that the child has things that take less time and things that take more time each day in the workboxes. Rotate through a variety of materials and types of activities that supplement your academics, or are activities that allow for exploration/inventing/creating, or are activities that help develop fine motor skills (your 4yo can have a workbox too, with busy bags and "self-checking" activities):


Ideas for workbox/independent work:

* computer educational game

* math manipulatives and booklet (geo-boards, pattern blocks, multi-link cubes, tangrams, etc.)

* additional workbook pages for phonics, math facts, etc.

* reading comprehension worksheets (grades 1-5free worksheetsworkbook)

* science kit or supplies for experimentation

* logic and critical thinking puzzles; mazes; simple word search; dot-to-dot; ken-ken or sudoku, etc.

* arts & crafts kit or supplies for experimenting

* hand crafts and other fine motor skill activities

* practice musical instrument

* play a game with the 4yo or read to the 4yo

* "task cards"

* work box ideas for pre-school/kinder/1st gr.



Idea for a possible Schedule -- again take or leave as it works for your family and for your goals -- and, when you hit the end of the block time, loop any unfinished work to the next time in the week you have that subject scheduled:


pre-9:00am = morning routine


9:00-9:45 = 45 min = TOGETHER block: Bible + 1 other*

9:45-10:30 = 45 min = MATH block / Pre-K time**

10:30-11:00 = 30 min = snack break + short activity for all -- dance, walk around the block, jump rope or jump...

11:00-12:00 = 60 min = LANGUAGE ARTS block #1***


12:00-12:45 = 45 min = lunch break

12:45-1:15 = 30 min = quiet time for everyone****


1:15-2:00 = 45 min = HISTORY or SCIENCE reading + any experiment or hands-on

2:00-2:30 = 30 min = LANGUAGE ARTS  block #2, just for 4th grader *****


3x/week after dinner = READ ALOUD -- 30-45 min (from your special stack of books as just for fun)


* Together Block = 45min = Daily, Bible plus one other activity:

2x/week = Geography

1x/week each = poetry or Shakespeare

1x/week = miscellaneous other


** Math Block / Pre-K time = 45 min

Since both the 4th gr. and 7yo are doing Math mostly independently, once you get them set up and answer any questions, that would give you a good 30 minutes out of the 45 min. to work 1-on1 with the 4yo


*** LA block #1 = 60 min (30 min with 1 child, while other child does solo work box activity, then switch)

- Spelling

- Reading Instruction


**** = Quiet Time = 30 min

Everyone on their bed, quiet: look at books, listen to audio books, do quiet activity -- OR -- watch an educational video


***** = LA block #2 = 30 min -- just for 4th grader (7yo plays with 4yo -- maybe sometimes structured time with an educational game?)

3x/week = copywork + assigned solo reading

2x/week = either narration OR dictation + assigned solo reading

Edited by Lori D.
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I think you have way too much on your plate. With kids your kids' ages, I would definitely drop geography and Shakespeare. (Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Shakespeare, and we have spent a lot of time on it, but if you are overwhelmed, you need to pare down some.) You can also alternate science and history; until my dd was in 8th grade, we did science and history in alternating two-week blocks. I would also set a limit of an hour a day on read-alouds. Whatever you get through is what you get through. Don't become a slave to your curriculum--it works for you, not the other way around.


And, honestly, I don't really think it's feasible to have your 4th grader working more independently. My kids didn't start doing any significant amount of independent work until 7th grade.


In fourth grade, I don't think your child needs to do more than 3 or so hours of work each day. Set your time parameters and figure out what you can fit into them. Let the rest go. Alternate days if you need to; for example, we I alternate grammar and root study with my son. We don't do both on the same day.


I would also suggest not having your kids do math independently. That's pretty much the #1 thing that young kids need instruction in.


I understand the urge to do it all, but if you burn out, then it's not worth it. Pick the must-haves and let the rest go.

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We use Wayfarers and ELTL as well.  I have a 4th grader and a 2nd grader.  Here's our typical day.  


9am - Journal writing.  They do free writing. My oldest is working on a continuing story. My youngest usually writes about Pokemon or Ninjago.  We do this as an ease into the school day.  Gets their brains warmed up and lets me have a few extra minutes to gather supplies or whatever.

9:30 - Oldest starts math independently.  Youngest does one of his mom intensive subjects (reading, math, ELTL or spelling) OR cursive if I'm busy.

10- Break for snack and a science show.

10:30 - Oldest finishes math if he has any left.  Then he moves on to ELTL which he does independently.  On non-ELTL days he does Writing & Rhetoric(independent) and Spelling (with me).   Youngest and I do another mom intensive subject.  We move through those subjects until lunch.  I stop with youngest to help oldest or check work whenever necessary.  


12:00- Break for lunch.  Free play or swim.


1:30 - Gather back together for Science OR History, including writing in their narration journals.  We do any Geography read aloud and Geography Through Art (sometimes simultaneously).  Latin work on the days I choose to do that.   This usually all takes an hour to an hour and a half.  I don't always read EVERYTHING on the pages.  Like in history we were doing a book on Ancient China and the book had a 2 page spread on rice.  I read a few highlights from the page so they understood rice was a staple in China but we didn't delve so deeply into it that it took us 20 min to read all the pages had to say.


We don't do Shakespeare or Bible (we do go to church but we don't do Bible as a subject.  Although if we did I would replace journal writing with Bible).  Latin is only on days I feel like we have the time so it isn't consistent but it does get done to some degree.   I do plan to take some time to work through a Shakespeare book I have but I'm thinking we'll do a week off of everything else and do some fun subjects that we never get to with things like Shakespeare, fun read aloud, scheduled week day nature walks, etc.  


We haven't found the time to get to the other Read Alouds but my husband reads to them something "fun" at night (they are doing Harry Potter now).  


It is hard work for all of us.  But I'm enjoying it all and feel like we're learning.  We break frequently so it does take us until 2-3 most days but I'd rather do that than burn out pushing through all morning.  We used to finish by lunch or 1 but we weren't doing history often if at all and science was sporadic.  I feel like they are old enough that we need to do those more consistently and Wayfarers has helped us keep on task with that.   It feels like we do a ton of school when I type it out like that but when I add it up we do about 4 hours a day on average and that's counting 30 min of journal writing that we could totally drop but my kids love it.


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I'm already feeling overwhelmed and burned out, and we are only finishing up week 3! I know I must be doing something wrong, but I'm not sure what! Im hoping to get some advice/suggestions on what I can do differently.

I'm usually exhausted by this time and we have yet to start a "just for fun" read aloud for the year...and I have sooo many great books on my shelf waiting to be read that I bought specifically for read aloud times. Plus, I'm wanting my kids to want to choose reading as their quiet time activity, or their "I'm bored activity", but I think they are feeling just as burned out as I am, so this never happens. 

I would love to have my oldest daughter work more independently, but I'm not sure how to do this with my son not yet reading on his own. I know i must be doing something wrong, or is RLTL/ELTL/Wayfareres/Quark really this teacher intense? (this is our first year using all of it)



Hi, my kids are 14, 13, 11, 8 and 1.  Here are my thoughts from trying to deal with our circus.   :tongue_smilie:


Independent work- Even my teens still need a lot of help/interaction/discussion from me.   :glare:   It really never ends.  So, don't feel bad if your 9 year-old isn't working independently.


We have never been able to follow someone else's curriculum - EVER.  I think it's because I'm teaching so many kids that curriculum isn't efficient and it becomes overwhelming.  We're on Week 5 (?) of our school year and I've already turned one kid loose on what basically looks like unschooling (the 8 year-old), given the 11 year-old the daily choice of what we're going to cover that day and chopped up Ambleside Online's Year 7 into blocks, rearranged our schedule and completely changed our literature selections (for the teenagers).  *sigh*  So, if Wayfarers doesn't work out...don't feel bad.


With those ages, I would try to be finished by lunch time.  If you don't finish something, I would just put it away for tomorrow.  Every morning, I drag out everything I think we could feasibly finish that day and stack it on the kitchen island.  If we finish everything in the stack, we're finished.  If we're not finished by 3pm, I just put it away.  I've noticed my kids start mentally clocking out around 2.


We also do literature read-alouds at bedtime.  That helps.


Homeschooling is mentally exhausting when you first start the school year.    

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It is true that it will take some time for you to figure out how things are going to work for you. :-) However, one thing that jumps out at me is that you have chosen very parent-directed, literature-based materials and methods. Except for math, it looks to me as if there is nothing that your children really can do independently. Of course, we homeschool because we want to be with our children, but there are ways of doing that which allow for more independence (or at least, less of your reading voice!).

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Although we don't use the same curriculum, I know that I have gotten stuck feeling like we had to finish lessons 'on schedule' or one lesson per day.  I'm finding that there are times when I need to slow down to focus on a particular subject, times when we can skip lessons over topics that we already know, and times when I can read about the topic that we're supposed to learn about and then present it to my kids in a different way (shorter, longer, or just different). 


For example, instead of always reading the geography, maybe one day pull out a map or globe and use some guided questioning about the region that you're supposed to be learning about to save you from reading out loud (Do you think it's hot or cold here?  Why?  What kinds of food/houses/clothes might they use?  Where do they get water?, etc).  If both you and the children are feeling burned out, it may be that there is too much reading out loud for right now - you're tired of reading and, if they're feeling burned out, they may not be absorbing as much as you would hope.  Until they are both good readers, picking certain science, history, or geography units and doing them with coloring maps, or picture-based books that you can talk about might free up your time to read the books that you want to read out loud. 

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