Two different people reached out to me this week and asked similar questions — How do we stay motivated? How do we go on, when we just don’t have the energy?
If you’re feeling discouraged or out of patience, if you are having a hard time… know that you are not alone!
It is quite common for homeschoolers – and teachers – to reach a tough patch in the middle of the semester. We’ve been going strong now for a couple of months and are looking at the busy holiday period looming ahead. The excitement of the beginning of the year has worn off, but there’s still so much of the school year left. There was an NPR program, Tell Me More, about this very phenomenon experienced by a public school teacher a number of years ago. She called it the October Blues, which peaked for her at Halloween.
What are some strategies to help when motivation is low? Here are some thoughts…
1. Remember why you started to homeschool in the first place. You didn’t make this decision lightly, you did it because you felt it was the right thing for your family. Homeschooling is flexible, it allows you to work with the kids at *their* own pace, it allows for creativity, your kids can ask questions, explore, and see the world… Whatever your reasons, you had some pretty compelling ones for sure!
2. On a more practical side, make sure dinner is planned. We use our crockpot more and more often this time of year. Even if the day is a bust, having a meal at the end of a tiring day is amazing. Maybe you are someone with wonderful monthly meal plan, but if you’re not… this is your (and my!!) reminder not to wait until 5:15 to open the fridge doors and stare into it mournfully!
3. Try changing the schedule around… instead of going through all the subjects each day, devote some bigger blocks of time to a subject (such as science or history). Spend a couple of hours on a subject and then switch the next day (or the next week).
Going into more depth can ease the stress of getting “everything” in. We might spend the extra time reading a book aloud together or watching a documentary…
4. Create Curiosity!! Try adding in a STEM Project or doing Math Circles. These *really* engage the kids and generally don’t take much prep, but they are often SO engaging and fun for the kids! It’s all part of getting the kids excited about learning, so deviating from the “normal curriculum” is okay!
Here are some quick, 20 minute STEM activities that might be fun for the kids. Here is our post about Math Circles and Critical Thinking Activities or a free math riddle page here. It’s fun just to change it up a bit.
Or, do one of your subjects in an unconventional way… For example, take math outside for a change! Last fall I had the kids do math with this giant chalk circle… ED practiced skip counting, DD practiced division, and LD did some preAlgebra and Order of Operations problem (here are some printable cards)!
- biography research paper (we have a free pack here)
- portfolio project (my kids did one on animal (free printable portfolio project) and one on WWII (portfolio project) a couple of years ago… but you could design one on a subject that interests your kids)
- lapbook project
- poster/research project – My girls especially have enjoyed doing posters that share some of the information they’ve researched. Here’s one that DD did about medieval medicine last year:
While my youngest studied insects around the world:
6. If you are feeling especially discouraged right now, it might just be time for a day or two off. That’s okay too! But be sure to spend a few minutes thinking about how far you’ve come so far! Think about where the kid were just two months ago… how many books you’ve read, how many subjects your family has explored, how many new memories you have made together!
Homeschooling is a journey! It has steep, challenging parts but when you look back it will be a unique, amazing experience! Those bad days will fade with time and you’ll remember the good times more than the bad.
So, I don’t know if any of that helped, but know that we’re all in this together!! You know your kids better than anyone and are doing a fabulous job!
Be sure to check our new page Avoid Homeschool Overwhelm Tab. Hopefully you find some tips to boost your spirits and encourage you along this homeschool journey!