If you are anything like me, getting back into the groove of homeschooling after a long break, whether from the holidays, vacation, or illness, can present a new set of challenges for the homeschool mom.
All the groundwork of routine and learning progress we had laid prior to our break somehow seems to be replaced with chaos, bouts of memory loss and dragging feet (perhaps not always from the kids 😉). Do we just dive in and try to pick up where we left off? Or do we procrastinate finding one excuse after another as to why today is not a good day to crack the books? Or maybe we have a new determination to "get 'er done" but are stopped in our tracks with an overwhelming feeling of "where do we start"?
After 13 years of homeschooling, I picked up a few tips on how to make getting back into the swing of things just a little smoother.
· Clean and reorganize your homeschooling area– Remember that feeling you had way back at the beginning of the school year when you had some sort of organization going on? I know that when we took a break, we basically left everything where it was and when we returned to our classroom (we were lucky and had a dedicated room) it was like time stood still in there. Have the kids help put things away, clean off the work areas, toss that withering science experiment and freshen up the room. Make it fun by having a checklist with age-appropriate tasks the kids can tick off as completed, create a scavenger hunt to locate and return scattered objects, or have timed cleaning races. Change up wall décor with new posters that you can even have the kids create with positive and encouraging messages and images. If you are behind in grading papers (gasp! That never happens to us lol), take some time to catch those up before you add to the pile. Bringing order and new life to your learning zone gets you one step closer to wanting to get back at it.
· Try something different– Maybe you are not yet ready to dig into the same-old-same-old. How about doing a mini-study of something that interests your child? Or maybe read aloud a brand, new book? You might be surprised to know (or you may already know) that even tweens and teens love to listen to someone read them a book. Have your kids use this time to write thank-you notes or letters to loved ones or friends. Let your child help make the decisions and they may be more likely to be willing participants.
· Make it fun– It can be difficult to go from leisure to hard work for anyone and, let's face it, homeschooling is hard work for both the kids and us. Start the day off with a special breakfast. Play a game that incorporates learning or reviewing something. Some of my kids' favorites were Great States, Somebody, Are you Smarter than a 5thGraderand Trivial Pursuit. Watch a movie that focuses on a topic that you are or are going to be studying or even just something that your child is interested in. (Don't forget the popcorn!) Do a cool science experiment or try that new art project the kids have been wanting to do. Take a field trip to a museum or other interesting location. Go outside and take a nature walk to burn off extra energy the kids might have. Yeah, I know it might be cold where you are, but the fresh air and sunshine does wonders. As homeschoolers, learning doesn't have to be confined to our four walls or between the pages of a book.
· Take your time– Don't let the clock or calendar rule your homeschool roost. After any break, most of us are not quite ready to jump back into anything full speed ahead. Try easing back into things by working on only a few subjects or even just one for a while. Perhaps focus on a skill that needs some extra attention or start with a favorite subject. Ask the kids which subject they want to work on. Add in the other subjects over the course of a few days or even weeks. Maybe even only do school for half a day for a while. One of the benefits of homeschooling is we get to make the schedule that works for our family.
· Keep a Positive Attitude– When you do try to get back into the routine and things don't go as planned or you feel like you are losing ground instead of making headway, remember to look for the upside of it all. Silently look for the learning moment in everything even if it is not in the "textbook" and note it in your mind's book of success. (I say "silently look for the learning moment" because most kids don't like being told something is educational, especially if they feel like they are getting away with something.) If that overwhelming feeling of you "have to this" or "have to do that" rears its finger-pointing head, take a step back, simplify and prioritize what you are doing. Minimalize the extra work and remind yourself of the "why" you are homeschooling. Continue to try to install the love of learning into your child's life without force-feeding education into the day. Smile at the smallest achievement and take each moment as it comes. Equipping our children with the ability to be flexible when life throws us some loops and the character to do the things we need to do with a cheerful disposition is a valuable gift we can give them.
Don't worry. Before you know it, you will be back on track.