Have you ever been sitting in front of your computer and suddenly you notice it’s running a bit slow? Maybe there’s lag time between the letters you type and the time it takes for them to appear on the screen. Or how about this one? You’re right in the middle of pinning an image, gathering resources for tomorrow’s lesson plan, or reading someone’s homeschool blog when…surprise! The blue screen of death (as my techy husband calls it), appears. What do you do… you reboot! Sometimes, if something seems off and maybe a program is not responding, I’ll just hit restart, and usually that fixes the problem in that moment.
Does this slowing-down, sort-of-sluggish behavior ever happen within your homeschooling? Maybe the kids aren’t responding the way they normally do, or maybe you’re just having a difficult time getting back on track after a holiday break? Or perhaps you’re looking forward to winter break because the winter blahs have set in. If you live in an area where the weather doesn’t fluctuate a whole lot, maybe it’s a case of the same thing, different day, sort of routine.
So what can we do at home and within our homeschooling days to hit the restart button?
In the past when I notice we seem to be in a bit of a rut, I have made the mistake of automatically assuming it’s the curriculum we’re using. But over time, I’ve realized that often this is not the case. Sometimes all we need is to mix things up a bit. Sometimes we just need to start again. We might need to just “refresh” the pages of our day, “restart” with a new beginning, or even turn the whole system “off” to rest for a bit and then start again from scratch…even if that means doing an “improper shutdown.” Do you know what I mean?
So because we’re struggling a bit to find our groove again, I rolled up my creative homeschoolin-mom-sleeves, brewed myself a second pot of coffee, sat down with pen and paper, and got to work. Finding ways to INSPIRE my kids out of the homeschool blues actually ended up inspiring me as well. Here is what I came up with and what’s working…
Operation INSPIRE: Refresh, Refine and Renew!
1. The very first thing to do is pray! Often, when I am feeling sluggish and uninspired, it’s because I’m also feeling run down and worn out. I’m sure you’re familiar with these feelings. God wants us to come to Him in all things and He will give us rest. “…for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-30) He also wants us to pour out to Him and as the ONE in charge of our homeschooling, He’s the first one we should go to when we need help. “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3)
2. Once I’ve poured out to God, I am automatically refreshed and ready to dig in. I don’t know about you, but I tend to get a little bored with the same ol’ thing day after day. I know my kids do too. So, this is a great time to change things up a bit. Routine is not a bad thing. For us, it’s actually the backbone of what does work well for us, when we’re actually able to stick to a routine. Life happens though. There are illnesses, vacations, school breaks, etc that can tend to throw “routine”out the window, which then throws us spinning off our axis. So, our rule for having a school routine is that we MUST keep it simple and flexible. But as the homescooling days go by, sometimes we forget to have fun. And no matter what kind of “routine”you use, it can always be interrupted for some much needed refinement (change).
3. In the midst of dreariness, sometimes doing a unit study or project based lesson on something your kids have specifically expressed an interest in might be just what they need…even if it’s not in your lesson plan.
4. You could try adding a fun theme day to your week, like Musical Monday or have a science experiment only day. You could have a list making day where you write down all the Random Acts of Kindness you can think of (and then begin doing them) or put a bucket list of sorts together that you can begin enjoying now. One of our favorites is Creation Day…where we spend all day working on fun and messy art projects.
5. Sometimes a schoolroom makeover or simply switching a few things around where ever your students learn most, helps to change up the routine a bit.
6. Spend a day with your kids planning a celebration or family fun night. Let the kids do as much of the planning and coordinating as possible. Have you ever celebrated a day that wasn’t really a holiday but was significant in some other way? We love to do an “On this day in history…” celebration. It’s easy to find this information online.
7. The grass is not always greener on the other side…it, too, needs to be watered and mowed. So, if you find yourself or your kids with the homeschool blues, it’s okay…just don’t compare yourself to others because this happens to everyone at some point.
8. Invite a family member or good friend to come over and help teach for the day. Grandparents can make excellent teachers. And then, if your kids are younger, ask them to stay with the kids for a couple hours while you go seek some solitude.
9. Exercise together! I’ve always found it difficult to get any sort of work out in with young kids around. So, I quit fighting for the time and recently began doing P.E. with my boys. They love this and if I can change up our home work-out routine daily, even better.
10. And lastly, get outside, often! There’s nothing more inspiring than getting away from our “stuff”to see and truly appreciate the beauty of God’s Creation. For us, this has to be one of the best ways for us to find some fresh perspective and contentment with where we’re at. You can take school with you anywhere…outside is a perfect place to do that.
Finding ourselves in a homeschool rut is exhausting and unnerving. But, we need to realize that it’s okay to rest and to seek that refreshing we long for. Jesus did. And when we do, there is refinement…a cleansing that happens that renews our spirit and inspires us to begin again with eyes wide open, hearts overflowing and a resolve that we can move forward on this homeschooling journey with confidence because of God’s leading.
What do you do when you feel yourself sliding into a homeschool rut or you know you’re already there?