During certain times of the year, I can be a "Debbie Downer" when it comes to homeschooling. Everything looks and feels difficult. Or wrong. Or annoying. I start perusing all the homeschooling curricula online and wonder if a certain math game or another craft box will fix all the things.
Lately, we've been in a challenging season of life. It's not one particular thing, but just lots of little ones that can make days feel really long and make me feel as if my doggie-paddling isn't cutting it at all. But when I stop the flapping and kicking and questioning, I realize that we are making progress and that we are doing the best we can.
Changing my perspective and focusing on the positives and the positively awesome helps me feel anchored. When I sat down to make this list, I smiled and patted myself on the back. So, if you're feeling overwhelmed or like you're treading water, maybe try floating. Yes, floating.
Think of how you feel when you're floating, your body stretched out, face towards the sun and sky, body weightless in the water, and you can breathe in and out.
Simple, right? Flip your perspective. Find a few things that are working in your homeschool right now. I'll share mine below.
8 Simple Things that Are Working in Our Homeschool Right Now
To give you perspective, I have three children. One teen and twins that are a few months shy of 13. It's an interesting time. It's an emotional time. It's so many hormones and so many snacks and meals and trips to the grocery store. That said, here's what's working for us during this season of intentional busyness.
Outside classes: I cannot stress the importance of our co-op classes and online classes. My older son thrives when he can work with other teens. He needs it. He's an extrovert (x100). He's also fiercely independent. Outsourcing nearly all his classes have been huge for us this year.
While I still monitor his work (when needed), he's learning to manage his teachers' expectations, complete his assignments on time, handle friendship challenges, and more. I'm enjoying this stage and turning over the teaching to other adults while also helping my son when he needs it.
Independent learning: Once I let go that "family-learning" time is the be-all end-all for homeschooling a gaggle of kids, I gave myself permission to set my kids up to work independently on all their lessons.Would it be easier if they did several subjects together? Maybe. Could I force them too? I could, but I'd rather accept the fact that my children don't thrive this way and that we home educate so that we can be flexible and meet the needs of different ages and stages.
I make myself available to each kid, answer questions, strew interesting items and books, listen to podcasts together, watch shows together and more. Letting go of preconceived notions of what homeschooling should be is healthy for everyone in our family.
Ping Pong: We recently purchased a portable ping pong table. It's foldable and can be moved from the garage to the driveway to the deck. I have to admit, I love it. It's been a great way for the kids to bond and move their bodies at any time of the day.
Frustrated with math? Go play ping pong. Bored at 4:12 pm on a Thursday? Ping pong! I've been challenging my kids to tournaments. I play to win, friends. I'm hardcore. Playing ping pong has been a great way to reset and connect.
Podcasts: If you know me, you know I'm obsessed with podcasts. I sometimes worry that my earbuds might become permanently lodged in my ears. If I'm working at my desk, I'm usually listening to a podcast.
I catch up on my favorite parenting or homeschooling episodes or ones on health and wellness or spirituality. I admit that I'm a true crime addict and I love discussing them with a good friend via the Voxer app. My teen enjoys listening to podcasts at night and my younger son and I are working our way through a few history-based podcasts as well, especially because we're always in the car.
Streamlining curriculum: I've read the book Minimalist Homeschooling by Zara Fagen, Ph.D. twice and I go back to it often because of the love affair I have with decluttering in all areas of life.
I've done two huge curricula and general clutter purgers in the past six weeks. I've paired down what stays on the shelves, what my kids are using on a daily basis, and what I surround myself with within my own work and life. It removes the decision fatigue and visual clutter.
Saying no: At the beginning of the year, I took time to reflect and set intentions. Saying "NO" was something I needed to do. Saying "no" is difficult. Saying "no" feels like I'm not showing up as THE homeschool moms amongst homeschool moms.
That said, I knew I had to give up some things that were not the best use of my or my family's time or resources. And do you know what happened? Nothing! Nobody got upset. I didn't lose my Homeschool Parent card and other people stepped up to help because I simply asked them. Which leads me to...
- Saying yes: Because I said "NO" to several things, I was able to say "YES!" to classes and projects and personal goals that are important to our family:
- Yes to a 365-day yoga challenge for me
- Yes to a year-long Emergency Medical Training (EMT) cadet program for my teen
- Yes to focusing on health and wellness for the family
- Yes to working with homeschool consultants for two of my kids
- Yes to spending time on my own personal projects
Embracing mini-van self-care: I spend copious amounts of time in my beloved minivan. I'm sure lots of you can relate. Instead of fighting all the driving that I have to do in this season of homeschooling, I've learned to embrace it.
I've created small but mighty "minivan self-care" practices that nourish me. I always keep a shawl or large scarf, a book (or three) and pens in the car. I try to carry my planner/journal on me in case I have time to sit in the car and plan, schedule or just write.
If I'm alone in the car, I indulge in all my favorite podcasts or music. I call my friends and have an actual conversation. These are life-giving and needed! Hearing a good friend's voice, having a laugh or a cry, is medicine for my soul.
Lastly, I try to bring a yummy snack with me or I will grab my favorite snack combination at the store: green juice and dark chocolate. Don't judge! It's all about balance.
I hope you'll take some time to grab a cup of tea or coffee, a journal and a favorite pen and take stock of all the wonderful things that are working in your homeschool right now.
Is your 8-year-old creating epic Lego creations? Write it down.
Is your toddler embracing the joy of stacking books at your feet while you read? Write it down.
Is your middle schooler making their own breakfast and remembering to brush their teeth most mornings. Write it down.
Is your teen writing a novel, balancing a job and school work or making dinner once a week? Write it down.
I promise you, friend, there are many small but mighty things happening in your homeschool right now. You just need to stop and look for them.