You might be in a homeschool slump if….you feel a little relieved that one of your kids is sick and you’re off the hook for school today.
You might be in a homeschool slump if…you have to force your face to smile and say “It’s time for school kids!” but on the inside you feel like a cast member of the Walking Dead – just putting one foot in front of the other.
You might be in a homeschool slump if… you just flipped through your teacher’s manual to count how many weeks of school are left…and its the same number as when you counted 2 days ago.
Sound a little familiar? Am I seeing some cracked smiles and head nodding going on other there?
In the beginning of the year it was so different. I used to bounce out of bed in the morning excited to start the new lessons! I love reading the books, teaching the new concepts, doing the activities, and everything else that comes with teaching the new shiny curriculum.
As the year goes on, the honeymoon period starts to fade. The routine is good…but it gets repetitive. The curriculum suddenly seems boring. And even with your faked enthusiasm, the kids groan as they trudge to their seat for another day of school. And you probably groan on the inside too as you say “Hey kids! We’re gonna have fun today!”
I write here about when there might be a problem with the curriculum, but I have found that it is usually the homeschool slump creeping in. The most common months are between January and March.
It happens slowly, and you may only notice in one or two subjects, but it has a tendency to grow and suck the joy out of your homeschool.
A lot of advice out there would say that these could be signs of burnout and you should schedule a break. If that fits in your schedule – awesome! But what if you already took breaks for family issues, holidays, family visits, etc.? What if you are saving the time off for an upcoming event like a baby being born, a move, vacation, etc.? What if you did take a break and you still feel this way??
You don’t want to get behind, or maybe you are already behind! Are there any options?
I, like most other homeschool moms, have been slugging through my own slump lately and I decided to take it head on.
I remembered that a similar slump started last year around this time. I chose to just put my head down and finish the year. I fell across the finish line, but there wasn’t a lot of glory in it.
This year is going to be different. I chose to take intentional steps to breath life back into my homeschool. I intend to dance across the finish line this year! Let me show you my plan!
The first thing I did was ask my daughter, in a very casual way while driving to the grocery store, what subject she dreaded the most every day. I had a really good idea of what she was going to say – anything that has to do with writing.
She shocked me by timidly saying Bible class. I thought she loved Bible class! We have great discussions about all kinds of things – it is the pride of my homeschool that she can ask good questions and carry on mature conversations about spiritual matters. Apparently, I was having fun and she was being compliant.
She said the lessons had started to be boring and the “stories” were too long.
I am so glad that I asked! I could have spent my time and energy reworking a subject that she didn’t mind doing that much.
What do you think your kids would say? You might be wrong! Ask them their honest opinion, so that you know you are working in the right direction and your efforts will have the most impact.
Now that you know what subjects are causing the most groaning, start thinking about little ways you can make them seem fresh and fun again. I would recommend your first stop being Pinterest, since it is the birth place of all unique, fun ideas and creativity.
For Bible class, I decided to take a break on our current study through the names of Jesus, and start a morning video Bible study for kids – “Philipians – Where Does Joy Come From?” This is free for me through RightNowMedia.com. I thought it would be fitting in our current circumstance to talk about joy!
My three girls got so excited when I opened the laptop and turned on the video while they were eating their breakfast! There are even review questions at the end that are great for discussion.
Later in the day, I told my oldest daughter that is was time for her spelling lesson. She went to get her workbook, but I told her instead to go to the breakfast table (which has tile flooring under it).
It took my 60 seconds on Pinterest to find an awesome tip to make spelling more fun! All I did was take a cookie sheet and pour some flour in it. She still completed the worksheet, but every answer was spelled out in flour with her finger or the eraser end of a pencil.
She loved it! Yes it ended up being a mess when my three year old got involved, but we were having fun! All smiles and no groans. You can also mix it up and use cheap shaving cream if the flour gets old!
Isn’t it the worst! I personally dread assigning copy work because it can cause so much frustration.
Our language arts curriculum has a beautiful goal of me reading quality writing to my daughter, her copying quality writing, and eventually the hope is that she will produce quality writing.
Problem is…quality writing can sometimes be boring to a 7 year old. Or a 34 year old. To spice it up, I snagged a book at the library that is an award winning funny rhyming story of a race horse who runs backwards – “Murray the Race Horse” by Gavin Puckett. It is so fun!
It is currently doubling as the book that Oldest reads to me every day and it is also the book she can choose sections from for copy work. A nice, fresh change from the other poetry that had grown stale for us.
All I have done so far is pull up an online video, waste a little flour, and pick up a library book. Not expensive, not time consuming, but it freshened up our lessons!
Pick 1-3 subjects (after talking to your kids) that you think you can switch up. Get on Pinterest for an ocean of fun ideas! It doesn’t have to be fancy – it just has to be something different.
I have written here before about how I value the importance of a classroom space for homeschooling, but…when you’re in a slump, you gotta switch things up.
My daughter mentioned to me one morning that she would like to do school in my bed all day. I thought, “That’s a fresh idea!” I surprised her a few days later and told her we are taking all of her books to my bedroom. It was a freezing morning outside and she wrapped herself up in my comforter to do her entire school day!
She was not jumping for joy, but did get her work done in record time and her attitude was improved!
I would absolutely consider doing this as a regular Wednesday activity – something to look forward to and shake things up!
What area of your house could you move school to that might surprise and excite your kids? Your bed? The kids beds? The couch? The floor? It doesn’t have to be super exciting – just something different to wake you kids up a little bit!
I am going to give you a harsh truth here. Part of the reason homeschool stopped being fun, is because you stopped being fun. Burn, I know. I’m right there with you, though.
When the curriculum calls for fun activities, do you tend to think – “Ugh, I don’t want to do that. We don’t have time to do that. Looks messy. I didn’t pick up the supplies. I don’t feel like digging out construction paper today. I hate glue. This isn’t necessary.”
As the slump sets in, we try to find the best way to streamline the day and just get it done. All the things being checked off makes us happy! That’s not entirely bad, but those fun extras are what puts light in our kids’ eyes. They are what gets our kids excited!
I am not saying you have to do every little thing, but I would say try to do more of them as your schedule allows.
One of the extras that my curriculum has is weekly nature walks and sketching when you get home. Um, I am going to be honest and say we have not gone on one single nature walk all year. I assumed the kids would think it was boring.
Well, in my zeal to mix it up, I announced to my three girls that we are now going on nature walks in the afternoon. Each of them has to pick something along the way, I will take a picture, and then they can draw it in their notebook when they get home. I braced for a chorus of moans and “Moooooom, this is boring! I’m tired of walking!”
I cannot believe what a hit it was!! All three kids love doing it! It is such a fun way to mix art, science, and a little P.E. together.
What extras have you been skipping? What things can you add in that might give your homeschool a little more flavor?
I know you’re going to tell me that you can’t go outside. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. It’s too windy. It’s too wet. It’s not convenient. There are always many reasons to not take your kids outside.
I would know because I have spent many days inside using all those reasons.
Recently, as part of my plan to fight the homeschool slump, I decided we were going outside despite the weather. We had missed a few nature walks because of the cold and I was suddenly sick of telling my kids over and over again why they can’t go outside.
The truth is that I didn’t want to go outside. I didn’t want to be cold. I didn’t want to dig out all the cold weather stuff. I wanted to stay home wrapped in a blanket reading a good book.
Well, I somehow managed to get over myself and get everyone in their winter coats, hats, mittens, and boots. My exercise was complete for the day just by dressing them!
All three girls rode their scooters to a nearby park and loved it! We threw a frisbee around and had a great time! The girls want to go all the time now and it has become a pretty regular thing.
Yes it’s cold and miserable for me, but my kids and I are getting exercise and fresh air! That helps so much with attitudes and having a joyful house!
If the weather is bad in your area, that may be a huge contributing factor to your slump. Commit to taking the kids out for just 15-30 minutes depending on the weather. Plan to do something fun with them – don’t just stare at them while you shiver and wait for the timer on your phone to go off (been there too!). Running around will keep you warmer!
Take note of how their attitudes change, and even how your attitude changes after getting that fresh air.
As a side note, you may be concerned that your kids will get sick by being in the cold. As a former Emergency Room nurse, I would tell you that staying inside and not getting fresh air and exercise is a much better recipe for illness.
There is your game plan to fight the homeschool slump: Ask your kids what they hate doing, find a way to freshen things up a bit (Pinterest baby!), switch up locations when and if you can, start adding in those fun activities in the curriculum you usually skip, and get your kids outside!
These are completely attainable, manageable items that you can do starting today. I would not recommend doing all of them today, but try to phase them in over a week or so. You may find that somethings work and others don’t, and that’s okay. Keep trying new things! Make intentional efforts to keep your homeschool fresh and fun!
Want to hold on to this list so you don’t forget everything? Got you covered! Pin it to your favorite Pinterest Board and share with your friends and followers!