Any homeschooler that is honest would tell you that some homeschool days stink. No matter how early you wake up, or what awesome experience you are prepped for; it just doesn’t work. Maybe someone doesn’t feel well or a too late practice the night before. Most often there is no discernible cause. It just is. Sigh.
Last year was our first year of teaching at home. We kept a somewhat rigid schedule because I was afraid if I didn’t I would be outnumbered and they might run away with me. I certainly wasn’t about to reward a bad attitude or a bad choice with a trip to the park. Who does that?
I do. I have stopped seeing a change of scenery or a change in plans as being a reward. It just is what it is. A change. It is necessary for us to move on and still like each other.
Learning to let go of “the plan.”
I still feel most comfortable sticking with my plan. Doing what is written in those little planner boxes makes me happy. But some days call for something else. When one of those dark days hits I have gotten better at realizing I can’t muscle through it or demand my children do the same. Different days call for different change ups but here are a few standbys at our house.
1.) This could be our own yard. We are lucky enough to have property with a woods and trails. Even a short walk and a bit of fresh air can be enough to cash in on those endorphins.
But when we need a little something more we pile in the car and hit a local state park, nature center, or play park. We have all of those things within 15 minutes of us. Amazing, beautiful scenery that we used to go to maybe once a year because there simply wasn’t enough time to get there. Enjoying those local treasures with my kids is a great reminder of the advantages this lifestyle offers.
Go to the library
2.) I adore the library. I worked at the library all through high school. The idea that you can take home anything you want from the library FOR FREE is too good to be true. I use the heck out of our tiny local branch. Every once in a while we hop in the car for a 20 minute drive to our big main library where my kids can explore. They learn to look books up, order their own books online, basically find out whatever they want to find out. They meet back up with stacks of books. And it’s free (except for that large, embarrassing fine that follows me.)
Read Out Loud
3.) Putting aside whatever we had planned and piling on the couch to reading out loud takes us all to a new spot. My kids will sit and listen as long as I can read. The great thing about reading is there is no talking amongst themselves; which means no arguing, no tattling, no complaining. Of course we take breaks to ask questions and discuss things but for the most part it’s quiet time. We are close and cozy. Reading gives everyone’s brain a vacation.
4.) Sometimes the only way for me to recover from “mom rage” is to excuse myself for a bit. Kids are not to bother me for that half hour unless they are on fire. They know this. I go to the basement, turn on some mildly inappropriate late night DVR’d hilarity and hop on the treadmill. I run till I can’t run anymore, which actually isn’t that far. But I feel sweaty, and tired, and have laughed. I feel better. I now have enough adult left in me to deal with my people, who are not adults after all.
5.) Color, cook, paint a sign for the chicken coop. We all have our “thing.” The kids disappear into their corner of the shop their dad so willingly lets them take over. They hammer and sand and paint. I have piles of giant sculptures that periodically get swept up to the attic or disappear. I have one that loves to writes letters. She disappears into her corner and writes illustrated letters. They make forts in the woods, modify bike trails, and build ramps. They make messes. All of these are worthy of their time. Time to be creative makes us all more able to do the “hard stuff.”
Muscle through it
6.) Somedays we just have to do what we have to do. The end. Not everything is fun or easy. Teaching my kids to work through hard things gives them the chance to know how good it feels to accomplish something they thought they couldn’t. That’s one of my favorite things about teaching my own kids I know them well enough to know when to give them space and when to push them hard because I know they can do it.
We don’t teach our kids at home to make their lives easier. We teach at home to make their lives richer and to teach them to live and learn outside the box. Every new season brings a new issue and a new solution or strategy. That’s one of the great things about learning at home. Your kids are constantly changing and learning and growing. At home the strategies and boundaries that guide them can change and grow right along with them.
How do you brighten a dark homeschool day?
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