If you homeschool, it is about that time of year when we often start to wonder if what we are doing is the right thing. Are our children using the correct curriculum and is it helping them to love learning? For me at least, learning to “love” learning is one of my main goals when we homeschool. Is my daughter miserable or does she love learning?
I can tell you, when she is miserable, everyone is miserable. It isn’t fun at all. Once they get to a point of full frustration every-time we homeschool, we can even wonder if homeschooling was the right thing to begin with! I am here to tell you it is, and I have five simple steps to help you conquer those homeschool blahs!
1. Quit Your Homeschool!
Yep, that is the first step to change things for ourselves and the kids. Quit! Just stop your homeschool altogether. Take 2 or 3 weeks off and spend all your time getting to know each other. I did this this year and it has made all the difference. Sometimes everyone needs time to unpack all the stuff that has welled up inside of us because of our busy schedules. Our lives are too packed and every time I try to lessen it, somehow it flows right back in. It is good to slow down… stop and just live. Living is learning too, if we don’t teach our kids to rest in the Lord, they never will.
It will seem strange to your kids at first when you do this and you will have to fight moments of panic. They will ask, what are we doing for school today? All you have to say is, “nothing,” and give a big smile and move on. At first they won’t know what to do with themselves but as things move on, they start to embrace it.
We decided to take time to go do some things we have been waiting to do… like go to the library. You would think we would go more often, but the simple fact is we live in the country and we have a busy schedule already filled with horse-riding, guitar, AWANA’s, church and so on… so going means carving out precious time.
I asked my daughter (revolutionary I know) what she wanted to read about. Her eyes got all fierce with excitement. She wanted to learn more about wild animals! I was expecting some fluffy book of fiction, but no… she brought home 11 large books on bears, wolves, cougars, large cats, owls, and other critters. She has been in heaven reading every single fact and sharing all of it with us. She is learning so much… and I had quit our homeschool! 😉
This is also a great time to do all those things you wished you had been able to, like go to the zoo, wildlife park, beach or even just learn some kind of art… take a doodle class with your kid! Just have fun! Play!
3. Take Notes!
The most important thing to do during this time is to let them do what they “want,” other than things that are family oriented, like chores, dinner and things like that. But as far as school goes…. don’t push anything, let them come up with something or nothing. They may flounder at first to figure out what to do, or they may just play for a few days solid. Eventually though they start to do things that really make them happy, and learn about things that give them joy. That is when you start taking notes!
My daughter read like crazy and then wrote like crazy. She has written several chapter books over the last 4 years and when “quit” homeschool, she began writing again. See, she wasn’t “having” to write for a curriculum, she was writing for joy. She is now on Chapter 6 of her new book “Seeing the World With Open Eyes” and just handed me her copy of the synopsis for the book. I am going to share it below and it reminds me that when we let our kids follow their dreams instead of forcing them to learn something they can amaze us. Here is her synopsis.
“When Sarah Rogers’ dark world lights up, her life changes drastically and a memory from the past haunts her, fear suddenly attacks. When God seems to be saying the time has come for her to face her fears, will Sarah make it? Follow Sarah through a mental battle as she finally sees the world with open eyes.” ©graceformyjourney
Yep, she wrote that all by herself! Can you see my proud beaming smile from there? 🙂 It may not be perfect, but it is exciting! Exciting to see what is whirling around in her head. The picture may show crazy writing, I assure you she has pretty penmanship and cursive, but when she is writing and her pen is flying all that goes out the window and I don’t care one bit. She is creating!
My “Notes” from the last little bit of time without school shows that I need to invest heavily in writing and into anything involving outdoors and wild animals. Those are her loves.
A while back I wrote a blog post about effective homeschooling and that is the point of number 4… Just Ask! When I asked my daughter what she wanted to learn about, it was mostly the same as what my notes suggested with a couple extra things I had never thought she would be interested in, like stars and outer space! Why not ask our kids. They are the ones learning and shouldn’t they get to learn about something they love?
5. Make It So!
Ok, if you are a Trekkie you will get that reference. But it is simple. Once you know what they like, research it and find what works and make it so. If you realize that your kid is enamored with computer games, maybe just maybe, they are supposed to be someone who creates them. Find something that includes that. My daughter needs to know how to make what she writes better, so we are going to use some of the curriculum from IEW and I will be looking into Brave Writer as well. She also loves Apologia with a passion and finishes the books within only a few months normally. I just found out that they have a brand new Astronomy edition! How exciting! Guess what we are getting now! She has already squealed with delight learning about it. Homeschooling is supposed to be fun!
Now that I have some of this new information, I started a new schedule with everything listed and printed it out. It is a long check-list with everything she needs to do on it. She loves it because she feels accomplished when she checks things off. I never knew that until I started observing her. I always figured it would stress her out more. But the unknown is her real nemesis. She needs to see the schedule on the fridge and the list on the counter of all her to do’s for that day. I give her the freedom to decide when she will do her school work as long as it is all done by Friday. She loves that freedom. Of course smaller kids might need more structure there but for my 11 year old it has been great.
6. Bonus Tip!
Pray. Listen for the Holy Spirit to help you with your homeschool because He will. He is faithful. I can’t do anything without His help… nothing! Every time I try to do it all on my own I have to start fresh with Him because I inevitably go in the wrong direction. He loves and knows our kids better than we do. He knows their future and what they need. Why not invest in time with Him for your children?
My Homeschool Conclusion
So, in conclusion, what will make your homeschool year better, is quitting, playing, taking notes, asking, praying and starting over. Life is not wasted when we start over, it is just turning a new direction, a better one. I am truly convinced that when things are not working we have to start fresh. We need to listen to that still small voice when it is yelling at us. It is there for a purpose. Let’s live free of school and learn to love to learn!
Now, I want to hear from you! What do you do when your homeschool becomes blah and boring or down right frustrating? What have you found to help keep things fun, fresh and exciting so they love to learn?