Sometimes we like to share the case studies of moms who are rocking this homeschool thing. Below is one such story.

Joanna Rammell knows a thing or two about teaching. The second generation homeschool mom and former teacher has been seeped in education since childhood and is familiar with the drill. What the mom of four didn’t know, though, was how much decision fatigue and the unique challenges she faces with her family would have a drain on her health and her ability to homeschool well.

Homeschool Mom Finds Freedom in Planning reading together

Joanna’s homeschool journey

Struggling daily with chronic illness, Joanna suffered her tenth miscarriage in December three years ago.

“I miscarried for the tenth time almost 3 years ago — found out the day before Christmas, though it took another month. This shoved my body into crisis and that February, I was hospitalized for a week. I had no idea how sick I was when I went in for what I thought was a kidney infection. I was worn out and seriously depleted.”

In addition to her health problems, Joanna was challenged with finding a way to meet the needs of her unique family. With members suffering from ADHD and ADD to learning challenges like dyslexia and several processing disorders, Joanna struggled to balance hours of research, therapy appointments, and curriculum modifications to meet the needs of her kids.

“The different evaluations of the children led to being assigned countless hours of different kinds of occupational therapy with them. I once calculated it — if we didn’t school, cook, or clean (and only barely slept) we might get all the therapy done each day.”

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Homeschool struggles are very real

So Joanna did what any dedicated homeschool mom would do and set out to make a plan to make it all happen. Except she took the wrong approach.

“I would schedule in 15 or 20 minute blocks. We all know that doesn’t really work in real life with real kids. I would lay it all out. Plan thoroughly, or so I thought (shaking head here), and begin. And I would fall flat again and again and again.”

In addition to her strictly scheduled plans, Joanna also struggled with overwhelm — too many resources filled her shelves and she tried to use all of them. Her kids needed remediation in subjects, but instead of working towards one goal at a time, she piled the remediation onto the regular work. There was no margin in her plan.

Homeschool Mom Finds Freedom in Planning happy family

“Another factor in my past failures to school would be the discouragement. I had so much I wanted us to do, but when life happened I’d feel so incredibly derailed. And it was very hard to pick it up and do the next thing because I was on day 5 in this subject and day 10 in that one, or the library book had to go back before I had gotten to it, or I forgot where I put the supplies for a project.”

Then she found Put Your Homeschool Year on Autopilot: A Plan Your Year Course through the Homeschooling with Dyslexia website.

“In researching Plan Your Year and Autopilot I also saw your Five Reasons to Buy (on the sales page). You nailed me like I’ve never been nailed before! I was definitely 100% number five. (Type-A all the way!)  It felt nice to be understood, though I felt a bit sheepish as well! So I did it, pushed the button and bought Autopilot…”

Following the exact plan in Autopilot help Joanna to see how the “why” behind each step could begin to free her from the unrealistic expectations she had about her homeschool plan.

Homeschool Mom Finds Freedom in Planning Boys Exploring

How planning for autopilot was different

Instead of creating a plan she could never follow and would only end in failure and disappointment when life happened, she began to craft one that would actually lead to success for the entire family.

Here are some successes she found:

Creating goals for her kids (Module 2) is helping her to actually see their progress.

“Since I did time slots and dated plans, I was always behind. And no matter how many times I read or told myself to teach them where they are and celebrate their progress and don’t compare, I had a very hard time seeing it in the mess. The goals have been such a blessing to me. I see them actively getting worked on.”

Focusing on a doable course of study (Module 3) means that she is no longer creating unrealistic plans with no margin for life.

“I tried to do everything. I want so much for my genius babes. I sometimes planned to use multiple history or science, etc. The weight was enormous. I have taken my seven pages of course of study and pared it down to one. I went back and put in margin in our yearly, weekly, and daily schedules. I have been absolutely ruthless with myself. I am amazed, and it actually looks doable!

Homeschool Mom Finds Freedom in Planning sewing lessons

She identified how her lack of meaningful pre-planning (i.e. skipping the gathering step) was sabotaging her school day (Module 8).

“Finishing up mod 8. Getting everything gathered up is hard work! And my brain hurts! I can totally see why I’ve had trouble with consistency if I was trying to do all this on the fly! ?”

In addition, using the organizational systems in the program (Module 8) is helping things get done in the Rammell house each day — and not just academics.

“I add tasks to their ‘spiral’ notebooks — we call them Daily Do’s Notebook. In addition to school items, I might have a child set a timer for 10 minutes and work on organizing the pantry or kitchen utensils or clean a shelf in the fridge as part of the school day! They mark those off gleefully, and I see more order and cleanliness in my space dramatically by the end of a week. My husband even noticed everything is staying cleaner! YAY!! We love the Daily Do’s Notebook way of communicating.”

Homeschool Mom Finds Freedom in Planning doing chores

What she discovered with Autopilot was a new way of thinking about how things had always been done.

“Pam, you gave me permission. Permission I don’t know why I needed, but I did need it. I did what works for us. You didn’t tie the planning to any curriculum and kept telling me to do what worked for my family. I experienced extreme freedom. It was so freeing to look at everything with fresh eyes and new ideas and methods of organizing …to tell you the truth I have had zero time to develop any of that on my own given my other very time consuming concerns. It was inspiring to think about all of it differently, and I had several paradigm shifts.”

Homeschool Mom Finds Freedom in Planning Family

The new year is looking brighter than ever

Now Joanna is looking forward to a year of homeschooling knowing that she is focusing on what her children need. Her first day was an “amazing” day of school topped off by a really nice meal (Yes, she even had time to make dinner). And her goal this year is for days like that to be more common than uncommon.

“My daughter told my pastor’s wife yesterday, ‘Mom did school with us for a whole week, and she didn’t DIE!’ (14 y/o dramatics) She went on to say, ‘And I think she’s going to do school with us this next week, without dying!’

So school is getting done without poor health, or decision fatigue, and with feelings of success. And she knows that keeping this up through the school year is going to be easy.

Homeschool Mom Finds Freedom in Planning Boys Playing

“The freedom, the calm and peace, the joy and excitement of my children, the fact that we are making progress on school, home, meals, AND habits.  My brain is freed up to actually school and enjoy the moment with them. And I’ve started enjoying learning with them.“

“God is so good!  I thank Him for leading me every step of this journey.  And for providing such amazing help and inspiration from Pam and friends!!”

So what about you? Are you ready to put your homeschool year on Autopilot and let this be the year you actually soar? The Autopilot Bonus period ends June 21. Don’t miss out!

Don’t just wish you had taken the steps to have the homeschool year you always wanted — do it! Click here to buy now.

Pam Barnhill

Pam Barnhill

Pam is the author of The Your Morning Basket Guide and Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace. She also is the host of three popular  podcasts -- The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, Your Morning Basket, and The Homeschool Solutions Show. She lives in the Deep South with her husband and three kids, where she is the go-to lady for great curriculum recommendations or a just a pep talk on a rough day.
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