You’ve given it the good old college try and it’s just not working.
This post isn’t going to be rocket science folks. There are days, weeks – months even – where you trudge through your homeschool schedule and it just doesn’t feel right.
There’s too much left to do at the end of the day.
Projects are started but not finished.
Workbooks go missing so you can’t even do grammar today.
Somehow, at yesterday’s art lesson, there were 43 pencils floating around the dining room table. Yet today, when it’s time to do math, the pencils are gone and all you have is an orange marker? Yep.
It’s easy to get into these ruts and harder to pull out of them. We started school back at the beginning of August and we’ve been truckin’ along, mostly enjoying some of the new curriculum that I found for this year. However, I found myself stuck these last 2 weeks. Nothing was clicking for any of us and the lessons seemed long and redundant and a few of our text books that we are working through that were just “OK” at the beginning of the year are really starting to trip us up and they feel like total drudgery.
Now, let me clarify. I’m all about persistence and doing something even if you don’t feel like it. (Hello, laundry.) I want to build that character in my kids and I don’t let them “quit” just because something isn’t enjoyable or easy. However, that being said, this is education, not chores. The very reason I’m even homeschooling (aside from God’s direction, of course!) is so that I DON’T have to teach to the textbook or the test, and so that I can teach to their individual learning styles, interests, and strengths.
I have NO SHAME in switching curriculum or rearranging our schedule if it’s just.not.working.
At this age, I want them to love learning, not view it as a punishment.
Yes, they have to finish the work I give them and yes, we do all of the subjects, whether they enjoy them or whether they cry through them and have to re-do their lesson 4 times before it’s correct. (Lord have mercy, pass the coffee.)
However, don’t worry if some of the curriculum that you drooled over at that conference or that you saw online and just adored all of the sudden isn’t a good fit for your family. Just because someone else loves it or it got 35 thumbs up from a magazine doesn’t mean that you will enjoy it- or that you need to.
I’ve been homeschooling now going on five years, and you’d think I’d remember some of these things before I get myself burnt out. However, every year, I go through this stage and make some adjustments. (And then I tell myself that this happens every year. And yet I somehow always forget…)
So, if you’re stuck and all of the sudden things just aren’t clicking and you’re ready to stick your kiddos on the big yellow bus, take a breather, grab some strong coffee, and hang on tight…
Here are a few things that I have done (and am currently doing this week!) to try to bring us back to center so that we can find our groove again:
- Before you ditch your curriculum, clean out your school room or school space and rearrange things if you can. Now, this is coming from someone with ADD who loves to rearrange her furniture, so take it with a grain of salt. However, sometimes just finding those missing 43 pencils, cleaning all of the scrap paper out of the book case, and finding our missing math manipulatives can REALLY make a difference in calming the chaos. If you need to, bring some order back to your space and get things tidied up like the first day of school, so that you can move easily from subject to subject.
- Re-evaluate your schedule or routine. Whether you schedule down to the minute or you have a relaxed pace to your day, sit down and see what’s working and what’s not. There’s no law that says that you have to start with this subject, then move on to this one, and so forth. We spend a long time doing Bible each day, but after a few years, we stopped doing Bible first thing in the morning. (gasp). One of my kids struggles with ADD (like her momma) and it takes her (and I!) a good 10-15 minutes to really settle down in the morning after breakfast and to hone in on what we’re doing. I know how her brain works, and I don’t want her to miss out on our Bible story and the weightier lessons, so we’ve switched things and we are starting with our artist or composer study – so that we can all snuggle on the couch first thing, listen to music, and admire art or sketch a reproduction. This calms everyone down, the teacher included, especially if we’ve had a hectic morning. Once we find our morning groove, then we move on to Bible, History, etc.
- Take a look at your lesson plans and see if they’re realistic. So, you’ve only given yourself 2 days to completely cover Ancient Egypt, memorize the major ancient civilizations, make a salt dough map of the Nile River Delta and recreate the pyramids with tooth picks. And the baby is teething? Yeah. Slow down and don’t be afraid to hang on a subject longer than your teacher’s manual says that you should. You’re going for retention, not completion. Enjoy the process and give yourself (and your kids) some time.
- Take some time off. Because you CAN. Because you’re the teacher and you’re married to the principal (bonus.) If you are all at wits end, then for the love of coffee, put the text books away and go on a walk. Talk about the trees you see, the birds you hear, the changing seasons and just breathe. Go to the zoo or take your favorite book to a cafe and let them order something special and munch away while you read. Or maybe even just play! Enjoy one another and spend the afternoon NOT breathing down their necks about an unfinished assignment or a lost book.
- And finally, don’t be afraid to call it quits with some of your curriculum. Obviously, your kids need to do math, but if the text book or method just doesn’t make sense to them, then avoid the torture and frustration and just switch. Really examine your child and find out how they learn best, not how the publishing company says they should. Don’t buy something because it’s the new fad in the homeschooling movement and everyone loves it, and don’t stick with something because it worked for the other kids or because you already own it.
And one last morsel of information, don’t forget that this is normal. Homeschoolers tend to get into funks (that’s the scientific definition) around late Fall (usually October-November) and in early spring (from about January-February). That’s just the rhythm of our education pattern, so if you’re in that funk, you’re not alone!
In every sphere of life, we come across those times that we just need to make an adjustment. The very definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting to get different results. Don’t drive yourself insane trying to enjoy a text book or curriculum that just doesn’t fit your family. Try something new and get your groove back.
originally posted in September, 2014