If you’ve been homeschooling for longer than a week, I’m sure you realize that homeschooling is hard. Some days are just tough. Whether it is children who just aren’t learning what you are teaching or everyone not really focused on their work, some days are just more of a struggle than others. With so many people in close contact with each other, conflicts will arise and need to be resolved. Homeschooling seems to magnify all my own sin and my children’s sin.
At the end of the day, God has called our family to homeschool, and we believe it is the right thing for our family. Some of the best things in life are hard work, aren’t they? Everyone has days that are a challenge. I wanted to share some strategies for when you hit those hard moments and tough days.
(This post was originally published October 11, 2014, but I updated the photos and added some new ideas of things our family does when we hit those hard days.)
What do I do when there are hard days?
Remember why I started homeschooling in the first place. I shared why we choose homeschooling earlier this year. If you haven’t made a list for your family yet, this might be a great place to start. If I remember my goals for my family, then the challenges get put into perspective. Also, unless my reasons for homeschooling have changed, tough days shouldn’t cause me to quit.
Find a way to recharge my batteries. What others might find relaxing might not be the same, but here are some of my recharging ideas.
- a grocery trip without children
- getting a friend to babysit for a few hours
- a playdate where I can visit with a friend
- some extra quiet time with the Lord
- curling up with a book as a family
- planning a “couch date” with a movie from Redbox for after the kids go to bed
Play an educational game with the kids. This can be a memory work review game, a math game, or really any game would work. Having some laughs with the kids can really get my mind back on track. It also helps for the kids to remember that learning can be fun, too.
Take a little break. If we have been focused on a particularly tough subject and aren’t making headway or if we got a difficult task done in a diligent fashion, I like throw in a surprise popcorn snack or 15 minutes of running around in the yard. We all focus so much better when we get back to the weekly checklists.
Consider a change to the routine or curriculum. Is one curriculum choice taking half the day for a first grader? Does something need to be thrown out, the workload cut in half, or revamped to work for our family? Sometimes, the biggest challenge for me is deciding how much to do in a day. If our schooling is taking too long (because I had unreal expectations), then a change is in order.
Go outside. We might head to a park and read a book together. Even taking time to play in a creek and look for some of God’s amazing creation can really revitalize us. There are so many educational adventures that can get us some fresh air and sunshine. Just recently, we needed to gather a few rocks from a local creek for a home repair project. I brought along our current read-aloud, and we sat in the warm sunshine to read the last 7 chapters of the book.
Institute a quiet reading time. I have everyone grab some books and head off to their own quiet spot for 30 minutes or an hour. When we are in close proximity to each other almost 24-7, a break can be just the thing. My kids always have a reading time during the day, but when needed, everyone heads off by themselves.
Serve others as a family. Some ideas are filling backpacks for needy kids at a city mission, babysitting for a friend who needs help, collecting or buying food for a local food bank, baking cookies for a neighbor, or packing shoe boxes for operation Christmas child. There are lots of other ideas for serving together, but there are a few to get you started.
Drop everything and clean. I remember hearing Teri Maxwell speak at CHAP one year. She shared that housework seemed to be one of biggest reasons people gave up homeschooling. Having a clean house isn’t on my list of reasons we chose to homeschool, but I can see where it can make people feel like giving up. I have always remembered what she said and worked to have the kids help out around the house. A 15-minute cleaning session with 5 cleaners can really make a huge impact on our home. (By the way, our children were not that effective the first time they started to clean. We had to teach them.)
Homeschool in a different location. Sometimes, we’ll take our school work with us to a playground, park, or local library. Just switching the location can make the learning go more smoothly (and I’m less distracted so we focus better).
Work on character training. We use We Choose Virtues in our home. Some days, if the kids (and I) are having bad attitudes, maybe we need to work on our virtues a little extra. This might mean that we work on a character trait more than we get our Essentials lesson done.
Read a book together (as quickly as we can). I love it when the kids and I attack a read-aloud and read it as fast as we can. Dropping almost everything else to read a book over the course of a day or two can really do a lot for all of us. It’s time spent curled up together while we are enjoying an adventure. This can do so much for the closeness in our homeschool.
Grab a stack of scrap paper and have a drawing contest. In the midst of drawing, I can usually sneak in some learning (like draw a mammal, bird, fish, reptile, and amphibian) while we get some creativity out.
Read Todd Wilson’s homeschool cartoons. Somehow, he captures all the craziness of being a homeschool family in a way that just makes me laugh. As a homeschooler, it really helps to not feel like you are alone. Knowing others have similar experiences can just make the tough days easier.
If all else fails, I play Thrive loudly and sing at the top of my lungs. Yep, that definitely helps.
What do you do when homeschooling gets tough?
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