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What about the rest of the year?

Are you starting to feel the weight of some New Year’s resolution you’ve made about your homeschool life? Or do you feel liberated by it?

Here are some common issues that typically come up this time of the year and some tips for solving these:

  • I don’t really want to start again after the holidays!

This is a very common comment, because we all got used to the slower pace and neither us nor the kids want to start again.

Some suggestions:

  • One permanent cure: Never stop and take breaks, just do year-round school, possibly taking off an extra day each week. You can maybe lighten the load a bit over the holidays or if you travel you can take those days off, but other than that you just keep going all year. Then you’re never “starting school”, because you’re always doing it and it’s just part of life.
  • If you’re not ready for that, you could start up slowly and add a little bit of time each day or week. Try to break your learning up into short bite-size pieces – 20 minutes or less per subject/activity works great.
  • Make sure your expectations are very clear a while before you are planning to really get going again, so the kids know what to expect and aren’t just waking up to a not so fun surprise one morning.
  • Another great tool to use is to let your children start up again by picking a unit study of what they are interested in learning and then build your first few days/weeks around that topic of high interest.
  • Lack of motivation

This time of the year a lack of motivation might creep in and you might feel like it’s not all worth it anymore.

What to do?

  • First of all, remember that you are not alone, this is once again a very common issue that comes up a lot at this time of our school year.
  • Consider your reasons for lack of motivation. There could be many reasons, but finding the root of the problem is the first step to a cure. It won’t help to just keep feeling overwhelmed, take action.
  • Many times lack of motivation is caused by being overwhelmed and overcommitted. It helps to make a schedule of your whole week, write or type it all out and see why it all seems too much, then start figuring out what could be cut to make it more manageable. Better time management could save your sanity.
  • Remember your goal, we all homeschool for different reasons, take a few hours to clarify what your current reasons are, what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, because that influences priorities & what activities you pick. Consider what the reasons were for starting to homeschool. Take into account whether you are still true to those reasons and whether they changed at all through the time you’ve been doing it. Whether it is the same or has changed, be sure to be clear on your goals and vision.
  • Am I doing enough? Am I still on track?

The question of who determines “enough” depends a lot on a family’s homeschool philosophy.

If you’re unschooling, you’re always on track, because life is learning.

If you have another philosophy, you might be falling behind in workbooks and starting to panic about that. Just remember that there is no rule book that says you have to finish every single page in a workbook, so skip concepts already covered and understood and move on to new challenges.

  • Some of us don’t use a specific curriculum, so it’s harder to determine if you’re “on schedule”, but if you’re wondering you could take a practice test for STAR testing even if you’re not in a charter school and see what the kids still need to learn or look up some curriculum online and see if they have their table of contents, and then you cover those topics. You can also use some resources on the Department of Education’s website. Their website contains all the content standards for each grade and subject area and you can also do some released test questions from there.
  • What about STAR testing coming up in just a few months?
  • Suggestions:
  • Quite a few companies, e.g. Spectrum create STAR test prep books that can be bought at any teacher supply store or online. This will give your students some good practice and they’ll be used to the whole procedure of filling in bubbles.
  • As mentioned above, the Department of Education’s website also includes some great resources like the practice Star test questions.
  • I am just so tired!

Once again figuring out the reason(s) is the first step to the cure.

  • Do you have too many things going on? Scale back on activities outside the home, but for this to be possible your priorities have to be really clear.
  • Are you trying to teach multiple kids, multiple age groups and trying to make sure each child’s individual learning needs are met? That is very hard to pull off all alone and is compounded by each additional child. I have found a great resource in homeschool co-ops which I am currently doing a workshop on and the recordings will be available soon for purchase on http://joyfuljourneycoaching.com
  • Another option would be to sign them up for some outside classes in the subject areas that you don’t get to and/or you are not particularly good at.
  • Create weekly assignment sheets/check lists for kids w there they can check off each day what they’ve done and then see what they still need to finish. That will let them be more independent as soon as they can read!

I hope that you have found some useful information above and that you can start the year off on a good note!