Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that we were excited about starting a shiny new school year with all our shiny new curriculum? We all had lots of motivation, and were sure this was going to be the best homeschool year EVAH! Now here we are, just a couple of short months later, and some of us are more than ready to take a break for the holidays, because we are running short of enthusiasm and are kind of dragging through our homeschool days.
I’ve observed that a lot of us start to hit the wall around this time of year. Not only that, but experience has taught me that even if I get all the way through the holidays, those Winter Blahs will hit sometime in February too. Maybe your seasons are different, but at some point, most of us feel like we are in a serious homeschool slump. Those distractions and doldrums have taken their toll, and we have lost our motivation. How do we get back on track when our homeschool batteries are running low? Here are some ideas that have helped us out over the years.
5 Ways to Recharge Your Homeschool
1. Plan to take a break. So simple, right? Some years I’ve figured that we would just work right through Thanksgiving week. Oh, we’d take Thanksgiving DAY off, but it’s not like we were going away or anything so the rest of the week would just be a regular school week. That almost never worked out for me. So I just plan on taking the time off. Look ahead at the calendar and build in breaks around holidays or busy family times. And if everyone is kind of hitting a wall and seems to need a break, just do it! A day off to refresh and do something different may be more valuable in the long run than slogging through yet another day when your hearts just aren’t in it.
2. See if your plans need an update. Believe it or not, sometimes we don’t get things done because nobody is entirely sure what they’re supposed to be doing or when they’re supposed to do it. My kids could work independently, but they didn’t know what they should do next, or they were stuck on something and just . . . kind of . . . stalled there. This happens with my older kids when I (as the Chief Procrastinator) hadn’t given them an updated list of assignments and due dates. When my kids were younger, sometimes we could get out of a slump by adjusting our daily routine to allow more time for a certain subject, or taking our lunch break at a slightly different time. Another simple solution that just might make a difference!
3. Change it up! Maybe it’s just time to switch it up a bit. Enjoy a breath of fresh air, so to speak. Plan a field trip. Add a short seasonal unit study or family project. You might not need to ditch any curriculum, but spark interest and enthusiasm with something fun that ties in. If your curriculum is contributing to your doldrums, consider how big a change you need to make. There are plenty of ways to make your curriculum work better for you when it’s not quite perfect.
4. Dangle a carrot! That’s right, offer yourself and your students a bribe, a reward, whatever you want to call it. Go ahead and reward the little milestones along the way – another chapter in the math book finished, a perfect score on a spelling test, every twenty days of school completed. Last year I saw a cartoon that showed an Algebra problem and the character saying, “I have no idea. I think I’ll have a donut.” and showed it to my daughter. She told me she thought having donuts after completing a math lesson would help her work faster. Okay, I wasn’t about to commit to running to the donut shop every other afternoon, but I figured maybe a special treat after finishing a unit might be a good idea.
5. Remember why you’re doing this. Yeah, this should be first on the list, but it’s the thought I want to leave you with. Learning should be exciting and rewarding, but it’s easy get bogged down in the process and not even realize what we’ve accomplished. We groan so much about the hard work of getting to the next mile marker that we miss the wonderful things we can see on the way. Slow down and marvel occasionally. Gaze at beautiful artwork. Whisper “That is so cool!” during Science class. Memorize an inspirational quote, a moving piece of poetry, or an encouraging word from Scripture. In fact, if you don’t already have a theme Scripture for your homeschool or for the year, pray about choosing one. Reflecting on the Scripture God has laid on my heart for my homeschool has helped me to refocus and regain motivation many times.