Combat the Homeschool Blahs
Are you Suffering from the Homeschool Blahs?
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 quickly fixes the problem.
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 blues 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 blahs actually ended up inspiring me as well. Here is what I came up with, as well as 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) Once I’ve poured out to God, I am automatically refreshed and ready to dig in.
2. Change things up, but keep it simple and flexible!
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get a little bored with the same old 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. Try a unit study or project-based lesson!
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. Try adding a fun theme day to your week!
Try having Musical Monday each week. 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.
It may sound strange, but it can make schoolwork more fun to simply make a few small changes to your school environment. Or, if a school-room mini makeover isn’t possible, do your schoolwork in different place for a few days. If you usually work at the kitchen table, try taking your work to the living room instead. If you always work inside, try sitting outside on the porch if the weather permits.
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. Remember that 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 guest 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 exercising 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. And you can spend some time doing some other fun activities together when schoolwork is done.
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?
Megan and her amazing husband, along with their four sons live in Washington state. She is a homeschooling mom after the heart of Jesus and wanting to make Him famous to her boys each and every day. As often as possible, Megan and her boys spend their time away from the table learning with a very hands-on approach. They love unit studies, science experiments, great books, and especially the outdoors. One of her sons was born with a significant hearing loss, so her family learned American Sign Language, which has been an amazing blessing to all of them. Megan is passionate about encouraging moms in their faith, is inspired by others willing to share their real-life stories, finds joy in the everyday of motherhood, and loves spending as much time as possible in God’s creation with her family.
Sound advice here, Meghan. I know that one way I combat getting into ruts is that I do a re-evaluation every term, to make sure I’m on the track I intend to be, that I’m following God’s education plan, and that I haven’t taken on too many activities that burn me out more than anything. I recently read a book called Homeschooling at the Speed of Life by M. Rockett (really — her name is “rocket”!) and thought it did this well, before convicting me massively about clutter!!!
Clutter is definitely one thing that is a BIG problem in our home. Thank you for sharing the name of that book. I’m going to have to go check it out. I know when I’m feeling “cluttered” on the outside, I often feel the same way on the inside. Simplifying our surroundings really does help! And I love your idea of re-evalutating each term to be sure you’re on God’s track. Thank you for encouraging me today!
Clutter is a big deal in my place, too. I’ve started moving toward a more minimalism approach. I think when you’re lower income, it’s easy to think “I’ll need this someday, and I might not be able to afford it” so you hang to more than you should. Plus the home school records – the constant concern about having enough on hand to “prove” your child is in a viable, progressive home school. I’m learning to love purging 🙂
Such fabulous and encouraging advice Megan. I know that inspiration is what keeps me going, beside grace of course. You really highlighted all the things I also to to keep homeschooling fun and interesting. Such a great reminder for me, thank you.
I know when I feel UN-inspired, I don’t feel like doing anything. And as you said, GRACE is definitely the other help when I’m feeling like we’re heading for a rut. Thank you for your sweet words and encouragement, Stephanie.
Lovely ideas for re-charging. Thanks.
Awesome post Megan. My wife & I homeschool our kids and are always looking for ways to improve the education process. I love that you pray to God, we are working hard to teach our kids to connect with Jesus. God bless you 🙂
Great ideas! I love the idea of a themed day! Thank you!
We’ve been going through this, so I re-arranged the school room. Yesterday at the garden nursery where we bought our pumpkin, they had tomato and green pepper plants on sale. I have a sunny window in our school room, so now we have some veggies in there 🙂 Sometimes it just takes a little adjustment. Doesn’t matter what type of job you have or school you’re in – everyone gets the blahs once in a while 🙂
I’m sure this happens to all of us, sooner or later. This is wonderful advice, we have done several of these things in our home.
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I needed this right now… for some reason I have gotten into such a rut lately & so has my son. I want to change things up & make it more fun like he used to be, but he’s in high school now, so I don’t know if that’s even possible.
Theme days sound so fun! Loved implementing unit studies too and having a grand parent teach?
Clutter? Isn’t this normal with kids? I’m only joking! It’s horrible. We are too a homeschool family. We love the outdoors.
I’m so glad I came across your blog today;)