Information overload! It is such a real thing! We have so much information available at our fingertips – Facebook, the entire internet, libraries, e-books, courses, YouTube, Pinterest, you name it. It is all out there just waiting to suck us into Information Overload Syndrome.
We research, read reviews, study scope and sequence charts, discuss the pros and cons of different publishers with other homeschool moms. We pore over homeschool catalogs looking for the very best materials to use with our children.
Pinterest calls our name and we spend hours poring over layouts of homeschool rooms, bookshelf organization ideas, school desk set-ups, and school materials storage systems. We look at innumerable lists of best read-aloud books, best sets of math manipulatives, most useful science kits, and geography unit studies.
We get sucked into YouTube how-to videos – how to homeschool, how to teach reading, how to motivate your child, how to do whatever the very best way possible.
Every school year we do the entire process all over again because, well, maybe we will find something better this year. Maybe we will find the magic formula to make our homeschool room, materials, routine, turn out just perfectly. Perhaps we will find the perfect schoolbooks that our kids will just love and every day from now on will be sunshine and roses.
And maybe you are the perfect homeschool Super Mom of the year who will take and implement everything you saw on the internet, in the books and videos, on Pinterest and social media and you will have the most awesome school year, your kids will be stellar scholars, and every day of your school year will be a never-ending delight.
Or, more likely, you will be like most of the rest of us who look through all that good stuff and come away from it feeling discouraged, discontented, overwhelmed, and ready to give up in defeat.
Let me give you some strategies to overcome information overload.
But First, The Stories: Information Overload is Real
Story #1 –
When I graduated from college I started teaching in a small Christian school. Each year the teaching staff always attended a big teachers’ convention. I studied all the speakers, their topics, the schedules, coordinated with some of the other teachers which sessions we would attend so as to get the most out of the entire conference. When I got to the conference I went to the sessions, took copious notes, listened attentively. I was excited, I was inspired, I was ready to make great changes to my classroom and my teaching.
Until I got home. Until I started to review all the things I had heard from the different speakers. I was overwhelmed, overcome with information overload! I felt totally unprepared for what I was doing. How could I ever do all the things that were suggested? How could I ever implement all the new teaching ideas? I looked at myself and felt like a complete failure.
Story #2 –
When I started homeschooling our children I had the same issues. Granted, there wasn’t a massive internet available at the time, and there were very few homeschooling books on the market, but since I was doing this unconventional thing, I felt a lot of pressure to give it up and conform to “reality.”
The only person I knew at the time who was homeschooling lived several hundred miles away from me. My parents weren’t quite on board with our decision to homeschool. Why didn’t I just put my kids in the same Christian school where I used to teach? Did I really think my kids were going to succeed and thrive? What hope did I have of teaching them everything they needed to know? The pressure and the angst were real.
My self-confidence (or lack of it) was tested all the time. Was I using the right materials? Was I teaching my kids the right way? Did I know enough to really teach them all they needed to learn? 30+ years later, I can look back and say that we succeeded.
Did we do homeschooling perfectly? Did we use the best materials for each child? Could I have taught something better? Could I have been more effective at teaching? It doesn’t matter. I did the best I could with the materials and abilities I had. We failed, we corrected. We made mistakes, changed things up, and went on. I cannot dwell on all the what-ifs, should-haves, could-haves, etc.
The Situation: Home School Information Overload
Too often information overload easily leads to “overwhelm.” You know what I mean – you see so much good stuff, so many options, so many ideas, you just can’t even begin to process them all. It’s almost like your brain just shuts down.
Here is how that often looks –
We Lose Focus
You were searching Pinterest for easy lunch ideas and somehow found yourself staring at homeschool rooms. What was the goal of attending that curriculum fair? What was the main problem you were attempting to solve with those books or courses? It is far too easy to follow so many rabbit trails that we forget about the main problem we were attempting to solve. We end up completely losing our focus and wasting our time.
We Get Overwhelmed with too much Information
Too much information, even good information, can easily overwhelm our brains. It’s like shopping only at Aldi’s for a long time and then going into a larger supermarket. Instead of 6 kinds of cereals to choose from you are faced with 60 different options. What to do?!?!? And when we are overwhelmed, too often our brains sort of shut down. We become defeated with information overload.
We Feel Discouraged
Information overload can easily cause discouragement. How will you ever choose the right materials? What if you don’t make the right choice? I don’t have the same setup for homeschooling that I saw on Pinterest. How can I ever be successful? And then we let all the information get us down and discouraged.
We Give In to the Negative Thoughts
Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I’m not good enough,” or, “I’m not doing this right?” When we start comparing ourselves, our home school, to others, too often we begin to feel inadequate. We start to think like we are failures. Or, we subconsciously convince ourselves that we are not good enough to homeschool our kids. We feel like we are failing our children
We Even Start to Think about Quitting
And sometimes we just want to give up and quit. When we mentally convince ourselves that we are inadequate we tend to just quit. For some of us, this information overload leads to overwhelm, which then leads to giving up completely.
So, let’s look at some strategies to overcome this negativity, to conquer the information overload.
The Strategies to Overcoming Information Overload:
What should you do with all the information out there?
Check out these three ideas to help you overcome information overload:
Take what you can use, what makes sense for you, and forget about the rest.
Or maybe you can come back to other ideas later when they make more sense for you.
Just because you don’t do what everyone else is doing does not mean you are wrong!
Ignore the Pressure to Conform
Homeschooling is not a one-size-fits-all method. What works great for one family may not work for your family at all. Isn’t that one of the main appeals of homeschooling? Being able to choose what works best for your children, for your family? Don’t feel that you need to compromise that to satisfy some other person’s expectations!
Don’t let the guilt of imperfection destroy the pleasure of watching your children learn and succeed.
Remember how excited you were when your children learned to walk or talk? Did you worry about how you taught them to walk? Or which words you taught them to say first? No, you just were excited about the learning process. I loved watching my kids learn how to read. The methods I used to get them to that point didn’t matter so much – they learned how to read.
What works for one family may not work for you. Find what works for you and GO! There is no perfect curriculum or ideal room arrangement for homeschooling. Either use what you have and make it work or find other options – based on your family and your kids!
The Takeaways – Overcoming Information Overload:
1. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone!
- Always strive to do what works best for you and your family.
- You do school the way it works best for you and your family, whether that means weekend school, afternoon/evening school, year-round school, or schooling with multiple extended breaks.
- Use the materials that work for you – videos, eclectic, online, literature-based, unit studies – whatever works for your family.
- Your goal is to serve your children and your family, not to satisfy your local homeschool group or your relatives.
2. Learn to dump the information overload baggage.
- Use the ideas that work and either ignore or get rid of the rest.
- Don’t automatically feel the need to jump on the latest idea trend; if you have materials or systems that are working don’t feel pressured to change.
3. Do all the extra-curricular activities on your terms.
- Don’t feel pressured to participate in every sport, every group activity, every field trip opportunity. Choose your involvement levels based on what works best for your family.
- Choose your focus. And that focus should be what is best for your family at this time. Your focus may change but work with today, not some imaginary time in the future.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself, to march to the beat of your own drum, to make your own schedule, to follow your own path. Homeschooling is meant to be independent and innovative. Don’t just follow the crowd! Overcome the information overload – don’t let all the information defeat you!
Do what works best for your family!
For more info about homeschooling, check out these links: