April 12, 2011
I don't know how it is for you, but in our house "homeschool burn-out" often hits pretty hard once spring arrives. The kids seem to have a harder time sitting still, none of us seem as able to focus anymore, I get a little more ornery because I feel like I'm constantly trying to get everyone to be doing what they should be, and we keep coming up with excuses for making it a "short school" day. You know, the days you only do the bare essentials and skip the rest because you have something unusually important going on that day, like a dentist's appointment. Only, in the spring time, those "really important" things become just about anything that will give me an excuse to get out of the house by lunch time. The problem is, we still have 2 more months of school scheduled until our summer break. How will we ever survive until then?
One solution is to add a little more fun into our regular routine. Winter is naturally a more quiet and relaxed time of year; perfect for reading and studying. Spring time calls for more fun and energy. Why not spice things up a bit. Here are a few ideas I've come up with to add a little fun and laughter to our school days, and let us release some of that energy that starts to build up this time of year, but still accomplish our learning objectives:
•Head to the trampoline for math. Have the kids do math drills while passing a ball back and forth to you while bouncing on the tramp. If they're working on their times tables, throw the ball to them while calling out a problem like 6x7. They have to answer in one bounce or they're out.
•Surprise the kids with a mini-olympics day. Take brakes from studying throughout the day to do different events in your mini-olympics. (Or just take the day off from your normal studies and make up for it later. . .) Think up fun events all of your kids can participate in, like wheelbarrow races, water balloon toss, obstacle course, relay races, etc. If you really want to enjoy a laugh with your kids, join in the events with them. You could even spread out the fun over a week and do one or two events each day. Have a closing ceremony on Friday with a slide-show of all the amusing things you did.
•Take the books outside and read on a blanket on the grass. This is an obvious one, but the kids love it whenever we do it.
•Start the day with a joke. Assign one child a day, or a week, that they are in charge of finding a new joke to share with the family at the beginning of school. (Needless to say, use discretion on helping them to find clean sources for jokes.) Maybe they could even write their own.
•Play more games. They don't have to be "educational" games either. Call an unexpected break in the normal routine and pull out a game. The more physical, or creative it is, the better. We like some of the Cranium games and the new Lego games a lot. You could even volunteer to play a Wii game (if you have one), like sports resort, or one of the more active ones.
•Take a five minute break and dance. When things are getting tense, or no one is able to focus, gather everyone together, turn on some fun music and dance. One of my favorite memories from when I was a kid was when I was 12 and my dad did this with us. He was usually so serious, but one afternoon he just turned on some music and we all danced. It was so much fun, and I still think of it from time to time.
There are many more things that we can do, and they don't have to be big things. The important thing is finding ways to have fun with our kids. It helps to unite us more, and helps the kids to remember that moms can be fun too. It takes some energy initially, but I always find that when I do things like this, I am rejuvenated by them. It's easy to get bogged down by all the lists and schedules and expectations we usually make as homeschoolers, but it's important to remember to laugh while we're at it. Laughter helps to put everything into perspective.
Andrea is the grateful mother of 5 wonderful children. She loves reading, playing the piano, riding her bike, working in the garden, and dreaming of one day living on a farm. She hasn't written anything on her personal blog in months so you can read more about her life, dreams, and educational pursuits on the archives of her Harvest Academy blog until she can find the time and motivation to post something new. . .