Written by Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home
I keep counting on my fingers, so I must be right: we are beginning our 13th year of homeschooling. Thirteen years! And I have to be honest—I’m not always exuberant about starting back.
It isn’t that I want to send my kids to school or anything like that; I just like having lazy summer days. I am reluctant for all our activities to resume, and I really just want to go to the pool, hang out by the river, or travel across the country.
I recently co-facilitated a session for brand new homeschoolers. They were so eager! They shared ideas, suggested websites, exchanged email addresses, arranged play dates, asked about clubs, brainstormed field trips, and, of course, talked curriculum.
My kids are in middle, high school, and college now. I miss those days of anticipation, of bright construction paper and M&M math. I miss sticky crafts, our giant box of inventing supplies (e.g., toilet paper tubes, shoeboxes, and popsicle sticks), and reading by the sandbox while the kids played.
Some years I have missed being excited about starting our new year. With that comes the mommy guilt of lacking enthusiasm.
After all, shouldn’t we be eagerly anticipating another year of instilling a love of learning in and molding the minds of our children?
When you reach year four or five, you might have one of those years when you just aren’t thrilled about teaching. I am here to tell you that lots of us—probably most of us— understand, and also to suggest a few ways to get a little excited.
Your kids’ excitement for learning is directly influenced by your excitement for teaching them.
It’s not rocket science, I know. But I think sometimes we forget how much our attitude affects our kids. We wonder why they are reluctant to start the day or why they grumble about doing math.
Photo by Laura Dye
I wish I could offer a magic potion that would instantly turn us all into Super Homeschooler; not only would I be rich, but I’d be really popular! Instead I will offer a few tips for an attitude adjustment, whether you are starting a new year or somewhere in the middle.
- Clean your house. Decluttering and cleaning does wonders for everyone in the household. Throw out old papers, clean the windows (yes, really!), and dust every surface. Think spring-cleaning clean. You will be amazed at what this does for your sanity!
- Buy yourself something new. We all get the kids new markers and crayons, right? But what do you get for yourself? Buy yourself a new pair of shoes, a sharper pair of scissors, or an amazing pencil sharpener. Little things can make a big difference!
- Fix up your school space. Whether you have a whole room or a corner in the dining room, do something to transition to the new year or season. Add a small nature table with leaves and a bird’s nest, buy a globe, hang a new map on the wall. You don’t have to go Pinterest crazy; just make a few changes that add a little sparkle to your space.
- Get dressed. If you are a pajama or sweat pants schooler, try getting dressed now and then. Put on some shoes (maybe even those new ones) and a cute outfit. You might be amazed at how differently you feel about yourself when you aren’t in your jammies at 3 p.m.!
- Get outside. Take a 15-minute walk or pull a few weeds in your flowerbed. Better yet, take a whole day off to go hiking or explore a new park. Vitamin D does wonders for the psyche!
- Make a schedule. If you are a come-what-may homeschooler, try switching things up by making an actual schedule. Ironically, sometimes a lack of structure can be stressful. On the other hand…
- Ditch the schedule. If you feel confined by a schedule, rip it up. Give yourself permission to spend a day or a month or longer without having every minute scheduled. Breathe in, breathe out, and stop crossing things off the list.
- Refuse to play the comparison game. Just don’t do it—don’t compare yourself to other parents, your family to other families, your kids to other kids. You are exactly who they need.
- Surprise your kids. Take them out for ice cream or to a movie. Declare a day a “game day” or go for a day trip. Stepping outside your normal routine is exciting!
- Remind yourself of why you are doing this. Why are you homeschooling? My guess is that, among 50 other reasons, you want the best for your kids and you believe that you can offer that. Repeat that to yourself—and believe it.
I am excited actually about starting this new year; and I mention this because it is important to understand—and to be reassured— that homeschooling for the long haul is a roller coaster ride.
Some years you are way, way up; some years you are at the bottom; and some years you are just moving ahead at a steady pace. Whatever season you find yourself in this year, remember: attitude adjustments aren’t just for kids.
Do you ever find yourself lacking excitement about homeschooling? What are your pick-me-up techniques?