Welcome to the New Year! For some, this marks a time of renewal and refocus and brings a shiny
bright energy to their efforts. However, for some, January is merely the WEDNESDAY of your year. You've long lost the excitement contained in a fresh box of crayons in August, but you aren't quite to the END the school year exhaustion of scribbled down crayon nubs prepping for beachy Summer-days either. Or to phrase it differently, you've definitely passed the point of no return, but you may have forgotten exactly where (or why) you were travelling to begin with.
YEP. HAPPY NEW YEAR Homeschooling Mama's. Welcome to January , the HUMP DAY of your year.
If you find yourself in a post holiday slump, fear not. You are certainly not alone. Many of us veteran home school moms can attest that the mid-year slump sometimes feels more like the mid-year DRAG. We all have struggled to keep the interest going both in the kids AND (if we're being really honest) in ourselves, as well. But what can you do? Well I'm glad you asked! Below are some easy tips and tricks to help you gather your flash of brilliance and amp up your efforts to your final push towards that year-end finish line.
So many make an extra effort to clean-up and spruce-up their home school space before starting a new school-year. But frankly we often never touch it again until the following year. NEW YEARS is a great time to take a quick scan of the space you do your work. Could it use a cleaning, or perhaps a moment to reorganize the books and supplies? Is there items you have finished with and can bless forward to another or have you accumulated a stack of papers that need organizing?
Take a beat to check your space and find areas to clean, tidy, de-clutter. It'll help you reconnect to the space and remove items that might be causing distraction in the kids. BUT DON'T STOP THERE! Got a few leftover (or still left up) holiday decorations, RE-PURPOSE THEM! Yesterday's tinsel and streamers is TODAY'S "welcome back to school" party. Let the first day for your kiddos ALSO serve to reinvigorate them as well. Banners around chalk boards and tinsel off the desk edges is a quick easy way to add a little sparkle to your schoolroom. You can even go as far as REARRANGING THE DESKS. It's small and simple, but can be powerful to LITERALLY give your children a new vantage point on their day. All of these are little ways that you can shine a bright new light on the location of learning in your home.
A trap many of us fall into (myself included) is the mindset that we must trudge through an ENTIRE year with the exact same plan, from start to finish. While it's not necessarily a bad thing, it CAN also be limiting and frankly, it can invite boredom. Take some personal stock of the pace of your days. Do your kids seem to be struggling with mid-day lag? Could you shift your schedule to allow more morning classes or a bigger afternoon play-break? Maybe simple steps like shifting the order of subjects around could help breathe some life into a tired routine but even bigger, maybe some subjects just need a break. If you spent the entirety of fall literally PUSHING through your
math, then maybe January is MUSEUM time. If your November was a painful slog through your history books, then maybe January is the month you SHELVE those books and invest in some cool videos on topics that are engaging or better yet, FIELD TRIPS to locations with history they can see and touch. Not to say you won't return to the curriculum again in a few weeks, but don't let yourself START the new year with burn-out. Better to focus on the long term goal which is to cultivate a LOVE of learning. If they finish math 1 month behind because you took a break to enjoy a horticulture unit study, then guess what? THEY'LL STILL FINISH THEIR MATH! So embrace the freedom to flex the pace of your schedule a little bit and WATCH as the excitement and energy returns!
Now truth be told when I say "focus on THE PEOPLE in your home school", who do you think about?
Your kids - check. Their friends and social connections - check. But if you are 100% honest with yourself, how many of you thought about YOURSELF!
How often do we, as home school moms, pour into our children for weeks/months/years and suddenly wake-up EXHAUSTED and burned-out ourselves. The desire to give our kids their best education, and educational outlook, is such a strong and noble calling so as Mom's we often push ourselves well beyond the breaking point. But a the end of the day, we serve no one if we are literally running ourselves to death. And NOTHING demonstrates the trending culture of our society to push push push, than for our kids to see us mom's RUN OURSELVES INTO THE GROUND, Plato is quoted as once saying, "Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to discover the child's natural bent.” Sounds like a fair assessment to me. But frankly I bet Plato's WIFE would agree with me when I tweak that quote as follows:
TEACHING which is done under the exhausted veil of duress has NO hold on the mind of the young. Therefore do not TEACH from a place of compulsion. Rather, let the act of TEACHING be a sort of amusement; YOU will THEN be better able to discover the TEACHER'S natural bent.
Feed the momma, and the whole house thrives. Schedule some mental health days. Just SEEING those ahead in your planner will keep you motivated! Revisit QUIET TIMES of your days and protect a spot in the house that's JUST for you! Read a book there, journal, or pray. Let your kids SEE you investing even just 10 minutes a day into yourself. DEMONSTRATE this most basic level of self-care for them and in so doing you'll be giving them full witness to the act of living a life better in balance. And REMEMBER....Enthusiasm is CONTAGIOUS! If you can find some things to look forward to in YOUR teaching efforts, your kids will fall in line right behind you with a renewed focus as well.
Happy New Year. BE JOYFUL as you push forward.
STAY TUNED for future blog installments. Check out some of my previous posts in the archives and DON'T FORGET to check out my latest book available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.