How to Make a Pivot in the Middle of Your Homeschooling Year

What does it mean to pivot?  Well, I think most of us remember the Friends episode where Ross is trying to move the couch up the stairs. "Pivot! Pivot! PIVOT!"

But, all joking aside, what is a pivot?  Why would you want to make a pivot, and how do you go about giving yourself permission to actually make that pivot.

Pivot means a shift, or a change in direction.  It is well known in business circles, in order to take your business in a new direction, you may need to pivot.  However, I think this definitely lines up with life as well.  In fact, I recently heard a wonderful podcast over at Sorta Awesome Show about the pivots the hosts have made in their lives.

What I want to talk about today though is how to pivot in the middle of the homeschool year.

How to Make a Pivot in the Middle of Your Homeschool Year

We all start out with so many plans at the beginning of the year.  We want to have everything work out, it should, we planned for it, but then something unexpected happens, or your plans were not specific enough, or perhaps they were too specific and there is no room for flexibility within those plans without derailing the entire system.

At the beginning of this school year I knew that I had my work cut out for me.  This is the first year that I am homeschooling two children *officially* and would need to provide portfolios for both of them.  Since I have essentially been homeschooling Emma since the age of 2, and from birth for Jack, I felt like I had a handle on things.  However, I was either overconfident in my abilities, or forgot to take into account the fact that I also have a three year old.  Needless to say that our fall was very full and not as relaxed as I hoped homeschooling would be for my two oldest kids.

I tend to have the issue of trying to do too much.  Whether it is my FOMO for the kids, or because I think I can read faster than humanly possible, or because I was trying to do two completely different curricula for every single subject with two kids that still need a lot of assistance with their schooling.  Or perhaps it was all of the above.

Have you had that happen before?  Planned too much, or not enough time to complete what you have set out to?  It is part of the reason we school all year – I feel like there is some flexibility with when I can complete things, rather than thinking it all needs to be done between August and May.

By the time we got to our winter break, we were all wiped out.  I knew that things weren’t working well back in October, but I kept pushing through because I didn’t have time to research and then make a pivot right in the middle of the first term.  I also thought that I would be able to make it work with little shifts, but by the time our break came at Thanksgiving, we all needed a break.

When you know that something needs to change, it is still difficult to give yourself permission to pivot.

Most homeschoolers I know put an enormous amount of time into researching and planning each child’s homeschool year.  Every child is different, every pace is different, every curriculum choice could be different.  That makes for an interesting planning session.

You have invested money into these kids’ lives, and you want to make sure that they are learning and getting the most out of everything, but then the problem arises and you aren’t sure what to do next.

I am giving you permission to pivot.

If you don’t make that pivot, what inevitably happens is a stressful year, which is not what anyone needs nor deserves. 

Instead, you need to give yourself permission to make the change.  Perhaps it is a curriculum that is not working, perhaps it is the schedule you are using, perhaps you are trying to do too much and you need to drop some things.  Perhaps you are trying to multi-task too much, and you need to focus more on single-tasking.

Whatever the reason, you need to give yourself the permission to pivot.

I had to give myself that permission over our Christmas break.  I knew that what we were doing was not sustainable.

What were we doing? 

Well, I was trying to do two separate cores with my two oldest kids, all while trying to wrangle a newly turned 3 year old.  On the surface it may not seem too much of a big deal.  They are in two different grades, so they already have separate math and language arts, they are reading different books.  But, then I also had different history with them.  While Emma is in the 2nd year of U.S. History, Jack was in the 2nd year of World History.  It was definitely not working to jump between two history timelines.

Part of the problem is because we have chosen a literature based curriculum, and that means a lot of reading.  To do two cores at once is an incredible amount of reading, and it wasn’t getting done.

I slowly started to drop off books for Jack in favor of continuing with Emma.  The issue, however, is the difference in abilities.  Emma is too old to drop down to the core we were using with Jack (also she completed that core 3 years ago), and Jack is a little too young to be keeping up with everything in Emma’s cores going forward.

It made me sit down to try and map out what the next couple of years are going to look like.  Knowing that Emma is going to continue into middle school levels next year was slightly concerning me, considering Jack is a young 2nd grader.

What I came to realize is that I can continue doing a good job with both of them.  That is the challenge, isn’t it?  Always second guessing yourself?  Perhaps when I have graduated one child I won’t continue to do that, but here, and now, yes, I am constantly second guessing myself and my choices.

Giving yourself the freedom to pivot gives you a sense of freedom.  It allows you to take a deep breath and know that it is all going to be OK, you are doing a good job. 

Often we, as homeschoolers, try to overcompensate because we are homeschooling.  We aren’t necessarily trying to “keep up” with public school, but we want to make sure we include everything we possibly can so that we feel good about our decisions to homeschool.  That fact alone means you are doing a good job.  Yes, you may not finish every single book you set out to read this year, or your child may not like something they are doing, but the fact that you are looking at every possible scenario to make sure what you are doing works for your specific child is a good thing. 

I firmly believe that no matter how your child is schooled – whether it be through homeschool, public school, charter school, private school – the issue is not the school, it is the parents.  When the parents are involved, the child does better.  That doesn’t mean that your child is going to be a math genius, but it could mean that they are going to be a math genius.  It is all about the involvement of the parent.

Once you make the decision to pivot, it can be scary and exciting, and it can be difficult as well.  You spent money on the curriculum, and to instead box it up and not use it can be a huge heartache – and wallet-ache.  Perhaps you have spent all the money you could on homeschool materials, and you can’t make any new purchases.  What can you use instead?

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The first place I would go is your local library, there are so many awesome books available, and you can find anything on any child’s level at the library.  Another amazing resource is YouTube – the amount of educational channels available for science, history, math, really any subject is astounding.  Perhaps, like me, you start to bring your younger child up to what you are doing with your older child. 

We don’t work through every book together, but on the ones that I know Jack is capable of listening to, he does listen.  Next year will be a little different, but I am really only focused on this year.

We continue to move through math, reading, writing, on each child’s level, and we fit everything else in around that.  Is every day perfect?  Absolutely not, but we are moving forward.

The first step is to give yourself permission.  And the second step is not to guilt trip yourself into thinking that you are failing.  You are most definitely not failing, you are thriving, and knowing that you need to make a change, and having the courage to do that is the best way to move forward.

How is your school year going?  Have you needed to make a pivot this year, or in years past?  Please share about your experience below!

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