Seven Tips for Days When Homeschooling is NOT Working
Some people have this idea that homeschooled kids must somehow be easier to raise and teach than other children. Either by some innate goodness of nature or by the mysterious disciplines of their parents, homeschooled children must always be pretty well-behaved at least, right? How (or why) else would parents decide to teach their kids at home (unless it was pretty easy)?
You can go ahead and laugh.
Here in this community, we realize that these are silly assumptions. After all: kids are kids, we (the parents) don’t always have the answers, and- as much as it can feel like a blessing- homeschooling can also totally feel like the huge sacrifice that it is. Don’t get me wrong: it is a blessing to be able to spend time with your children, to teach them at their own pace, and to discover the things that make them excited about learning. But homeschooling parents also know how big of a sacrifice this way of life can be in terms of time, potential income, and sanity! On top of all that, there are many days when things simply don’t go the way we expected. On those days, it can be easy to feel like a failure or to question your decision to embrace this lifestyle.
However, it may encourage you to do know that all homeschooling parents experience this feeling from time-to-time. You are not alone. Whether due to too many other commitments, illness, or bad attitudes, we have all had those days when this homeschooling thing does not seem to be working out the way it should. Here are 7 tips to help you turn those days around!
1. Take a Moment
There’s no way the day is going to get back on course if you, the teacher/adult, are upset and feeling hopeless about things. Give yourself a moment to get it together. Something as simple as washing your hands or face with cold water, stepping outside, or fixing a cup of tea can you relax and refocus on why you are homeschooling (and to remember that one bad day is not much in the grand scheme of things.)
2. Pray Together and/or Regroup as Team
Praying together is both a powerful and humbling act. It addition to seeking help from God, it is also a way of reminding ourselves that we are just mere people–not masters of the universe. Therefore, sometimes things get out of our control (like a day gone off course), and we need help of a Higher Power. Praying together is also a good way to remind each other that you are on the same side. If you are not a praying family, an alternative might be having a family meeting to regroup as a team. Consider talking about things you would like to do differently to make the rest of the day go more smoothly!
You can also do both of these things, of course!
3. Do Something Creative
Nothing breaks up tension, stress or boredom like a creative activity! Whether you are painting, baking or having a dance party, all of these activities have the potential to act like a big “reset” button on the day. Bonus: many of these things are also educational in their own right!
4. Change the Scenery
Another great and simple way to reset your day is to change the scenery! After all, a huge benefit is of homeschooling is the ability to do school anywhere! If it’s a pretty day outside, grab some blankets and throw them out in the yard to make a scenic study spot. Or you could always hit the library, a bookstore or your favorite local coffee shop to make your day feel fresh and new.
5. Go on a Field Trip
This is my favorite suggestion if your day of learning has been hijacked by errands, extracurricular activities and other out-and-about responsibilities. When this happens (because it will happen), use your phone to quickly learn a little bit about some of the interesting things around you. Then take the kids there and learn about why it is special! Talk about your field in the car and have them write something about it when you do get home. No matter the size of the place you live, there are always fascinating bits of history or interesting businesses to explore. It’s also a great way to find a new perspective on where you live!
6. Get Cozy
If the weather is gross and you are having one of those days, it’s okay to take a break from traditional learning (every once in a awhile) and embrace the cozy. Find a great audiobook that everyone can enjoy together, a movie based on a book you all read, or an interesting documentary. Pop some popcorn, cue the fuzzy socks, and enjoy a little bit of downtime that enhances past or future learning.
7. Learn from It
If you are reading this at the end of a day that turned out to be a total bust, then the very best thing you can do is learn from it. After all, a huge part of what makes homeschooling so unique is that it extracts learning from all parts of life. Therefore, a failed day is nothing less than a learning opportunity. Make some notes and/or talk to your kids about what went wrong and how to do better next time. But also learn to have a little grace with yourself. Consider this: what went right? What are things you saw in your children today that made you proud? What are some reasons you are proud of yourself? We are all just learning, always. If we never experienced days that felt like failures, we’d never learn to recognize our successes!