7 Tips to Take the Struggle Out of School
It’s no secret that homeschooling is challenging. There are good days and bad days. Some days you feel like a homeschool rock star. On those days, everything just falls into place and you feel like you could teach every child in the world. Sometimes, though, it can get really tough. You end up feeling like it would be easier to pick up your house all by yourself and move it down the street than it would be to get through your school day.
When you feel like you’re in a rut or every day is turning into a major struggle just to get through each lesson, here are some things that can help take the struggle out:
- Mix up your daily subject schedule. If you feel like the struggle is rooted in boredom with your daily routine, this could be just what you need to shake things up. Don’t do the same subjects in the same order every day. If you’re really tied to your schedule, try just starting with a different subject every day. You may find that a different order or even just randomizing the order keeps it interesting. Your routine’s rigidity might be working against you.
- Offer a snack in between or during subjects (when appropriate.) Sometimes we forget that kids are working hard to learn the concepts we are teaching. If the subject is particularly challenging or if it has been a while since your last meal, your child may just need a boost. Try a high-protein snack like apples and nut butter or a cheese stick and a slice of nitrate-free lunch meat. That may be just what their brains (and bodies) need to get them through the day. You can schedule in a snack time between subjects or if it is a subject that doesn’t require much hands-on interaction from them (if you’re reading to them, for instance), it may be good to snack while you’re teaching. This has the added benefit of giving them something to do instead of just sitting there.
- Give fidgeters something to fidget with. Ace is an energetic boy and he used to constantly fidget with the spiral binding on some of our curriculum books. This would drive me crazy because I was concerned he was going to damage them. As a result, I was constantly after him to stop messing with the binding until one day it dawned on me: he needed something to do with his hands while his mind was processing our lesson. So instead of constantly badgering him to leave the book alone, I gave him something he could fiddle with. At the time it was an eraser but it can be any household item that won’t cause injury such as a pipe cleaner, a click pen (if you can stand the clicking haha) or I’ve even seen devices for purchase online that are made for fidgeters. Here is a fantastic idea for a quick DIY stress ball that would work perfectly for this.
- Change venues. Have an impromptu school day at the park. Or take your lessons to the back porch. If it’s a rainy day, go to the library. You could even have a lesson or two over lunch at a restaurant or kid-appropriate beverage at a coffee shop.
- Get physical. Think recess. Although we often try to distance ourselves from the public school model, I think they get the concept of recess right. Sometimes your child just needs to get some energy out. This could be as simple as a run around the backyard or as complex as a trip to the park. You could also think of ways to incorporate physical activity into some of the more “boring” subjects like doing your math or spelling lessons on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.
- Experiment with the time of day you teach. Each one of us has a time of day that we are the sharpest. Some people are ready and raring to go at daybreak while others are the most productive during the middle of the night. Your child is no exception. If you are a morning person but your child is not, you may be scheduling school at a difficult time. You might be bright-eyed but your child could be struggling to get his or her brain to engage. This is the beauty of homeschooling. Maybe midday or afternoon lessons are best. Or perhaps after dinner is the best time to fit something in. It can be really hard to shake your routine up so dramatically but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. The results might be more rewarding than you realize.
- When all else fails, try a hard reset. Make your next school day a one-subject day. And for an even more positive impact, make sure that one subject is your child’s favorite. Then gradually add subjects back in (in order from most favorite to least favorite) until you’ve brought them all back. It’s okay if you end up extending this out over multiple days (or even a few weeks). Just be sensitive to what you think is going to be the most successful for you and your child. Note: I don’t usually recommend taking extended breaks without school when you’re in the middle of a struggle unless you feel that’s the best thing. I have often found that long periods of time with no school make it even harder to get back into a good routine and leave you more frustrated than before you took the time off.
No school day or week will ever be truly struggle-free. But I hope these tips help you identify and conquer the source of your struggles so that you can focus on what’s most important: teaching your kids to be the best they can be.
Download my handy cheat sheet here to remind yourself of these 7 tips. Print it out to post in your homeschool area or put in your planner. Feel free to take notes on it as well to customize it based on what works best for your homeschool environment.
What do you do to take the struggle out of your difficult days? Share your tips in the comments below!