As a homeschooling family, one thing we must always remember is that during the course of a school year there are various seasons. Not just physically, but emotionally in our homeschool as well. As homeschoolers we deal with all the stress of life together. The kids don’t escape it by going to school, so it affects not only our everyday lives, but also our homeschooling.
If you’re like us, we begin the homeschool year with excitement and the gung-ho attitude we long to see in our kids. They are ready to learn, we are on-point with our lesson plans and have papers ready to go at all times. Several months go by and BAM! we find ourselves struggling and wondering what happened to the routine we had in place.
Do your seasons look like this?
July: I’m watering my garden and letting the chickens wander as I drink my morning coffee before the kids are awake. Then I’ll walk the dog. So I might not see the kids till eleven. When they’re awake, they will wander down to the riverside beach or run through the sprinkler if it’s especially hot. In the afternoon, I curriculum plan. Amazon spends more time with me than my children for two weeks in summer while I’m eager to homeschool plan.
August: Summer bliss! I can make pizza sauce, cut and freeze peaches, blanche green beans, organize the house, and read about homeschooling before the onslaught of neglect when studies start. I reason that I will have no time for all this cleaning when studies start again mid-September. (And I always prove that this is true.) I organize my homeschool planner and prep each of my kid’s educational routines and goals for the year.
September: By mid-September, we are in full swing of our familiar schedule, complete with red star stickers for each finished math page, a box of yellow pencils freshly sharpened, and a box of smarties for each kiddo (cause they’re about to get smarter). My eager schedule hits all the important elements: science, history, foreign languages (more than one), writing, reading, arithmetic, spelling and cursive. I even add logic and chess, Latin and typing practice. September is homeschool super-charged.
The holidays derail everything
Just as we get into a regular routine, holidays hit and we muddle through as best we can. Then the new year rolls around and you find yourself recreating the routine and trying to get settled again.
February: By the end of February, post-Christmas cabin fever, New Year’s energy has subsided and the schedule predictability, the winter blahs, the overcast, shortened days, the blighting boredom has taken over. Contemplations while hunkering down with a cord of wood, a Netflix education, and fulfilling outcomes creatively.
Devotionals with breakfast? No
Afternoon history reading? No
Math lessons for my three kids and a toddler? No
Bedtime reading? No
Had I ever done that? Had I ever thrown out the routine in exchange for some sanity? I am Type A personality, or at least I like my life to resemble structure and order. Chaos makes me crazy. But what if it was planned chaos?
To everything, there is a season.
Seems to me that every February I hear moms complain of boredom in their routine. I wasn’t the only one. It even gained a name: the slump month. I also learned that I needed to make sure March was much more successful.
Perhaps I could take a short season of rest.
If you’re lucky, you can vacate your family to a sunny idyllic location. But not everyone can disappear to the Dominican. And not everyone can do it every year.
But what about when you can’t take a vacation? What then?
- Change up the schedule. Mix the day up or start an hour later.
- Pull out the paints. Instead of art history each morning, we paint or draw or craft while we read something I want to read.
- Delete one thing from the morning schedule.
- Or throw each of the subjects into a hat and pick out one. Don’t do that one for the day.
- Plan a weekly outing. Try a new museum, art gallery, or new library in a different town.
- Introduce a new subject. Art History. Classical Music. Russian Literature. Coding.
- Try child-led learning. Let them choose a topic and study it together.
- Get outside. Ski, skate, build forts, hike, or drive to a nature reserve.
Make your expectations realistic
- Don’t overschedule.
- Give yourself margins in your daily schedule.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get places.
- Determine to be present in each activity and with each child.
- Do nothing for a day or two. Make sure you are well-rested.
Take 15-minutes a day for yourself
- For Learning. A book, an on-line course, Pinterest, podcasts, magazines, HGTV.
- For grooming. Face creams and weekly masks, flossing and perfume.
- For exercise. Get up and get moving in whatever enjoyable way works for you, every day.
- For reading. Stimulate your mind or wander to new worlds and characters.
- With friends. Have some tea on their sofa, texting or phone calls, brunches or movies.
- With your spouse. A chat at the end of the day, a visit to your room or a night out together.
Teresa Wiedrick is always eager to share the freedoms of the homeschool lifestyle with the skeptical, the intrigued, or the interested. Ten years ago, she was searching for arguments against homeschooling, and that search informed her next decade. Her family began home educating when they moved provinces, and her eldest daughter completed grade two. The schedule-free lifestyle enabled their family to travel across Canada, to the Arctic, into Africa twice, and other interesting places. Teresa’s oldest daughter recently graduated from a local high school. Her 16, 13, and 10 year old children continue to learn from home and community. (But obviously, they’re not always at home, because they’re also at dance, choir, soccer, curling, chess, theatre, the senior center, part time jobs and social events.) A heart advocate of home education mamas, she’s writing a book on Self-Care for the Homeschool Mama. She can be found on-line Capturing the Charmed Life and on Instagram and Twitter. She cannot be found on Snap Chat, because she is too old for that.
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