Maybe it has been an extraordinarily long and busy weekend, or week, or month. Everyone sits around completely zoned out, except for one zooming around the house like a kitten at midnight and one grumping about the zoomer. Does this mean that homeschool should be canceled? Are you failing at educating and your little people failing at learning? Logically, we know that this isn’t the case, but it can be tough to challenge those feelings that want us “back in control.” The key to overcoming these emotion-driven moments is to know they’re coming and to plan for them ahead of time. So what kind of solutions can you put in your toolbox today that will keep you motivated and positive when you hit the rough spots where life and home education collide?
Think of new ways to learn something. Gather up the Zoomer, the Grump, and the Daydreamers and ask them to share the most interesting thing they know, even if it’s about Minecraft! This is a valuable time for encouraging great relationships and respect between your children as well! Maybe try gathering everyone at a computer and start with one idea and look it up on Wikipedia (not always academic but pretty safe for blind searching with littles watching) or Google Earth and see where their conversation and question takes you. We have whiled away entire afternoons skipping between touring the world and looking up what we find. Finally, take some time to put together a couple of YouTube playlists on various topics and throw them out for everyone to watch together when you need a break from the books.
One of the best measures of how well we have assimilated knowledge is how well we can pass it on to someone else. Use this as both an assessment of knowledge and as a break from the monotony. Ask your youngest to teach their favorite subject to your bigs – encourage them to be supportive. (Relationship building again!) Ask your bigs to teach their most complicated subject in a way that the littles can understand. Encourage your littles to ask questions appropriately. This approach gives everyone a break and lets you decide who needs a chance to chill out for a bit and who needs to exercise their teaching brain.
We learn better by experiencing something than merely hearing about it, so get out and experience something! Experiences involving multiple senses tend to stick better than those which are one-dimensional. And we remember what we have learned if we are immediately required to respond to or communicate about what we have just experienced. It only requires an attentive adult chatting about what’s happening to cover the “interaction” and only a decision to “get up and do” to cover the experience side of it. Museums, parks, craft or activity kits, and more are easy and obvious choices to insert an experience into your educational repertoire. However, these will usually require some level of planning. Many require no additional planning, such as gardening, digging a hole for no reason, stacking rocks, cooking or baking, a table full of craft supplies, water, sand, nature, weather, etc. There are more ways to experience learning than you could ever exhaust, so don’t let that be a stressor. Just keep a mental (or literal) list of experiential ideas to take advantage of when it fits your family’s educational and relational needs.
Don’t be afraid to read your family’s cues and take the kind of time you need to get recharged and back on track. Sometimes it may only take a few minutes to get a good reset going. Sometimes you’ll spend the day at a festival. Sometimes you’ll just take an hour to tour the world via the internet. It’s all education, but more significantly, it’s your one and only real life!