Back to the grind…

The main thing on every homeschooling mom’s mind right now is, “How do I go back to it?” Whether it’s because of holidays, sick days, sad days, or the freshly fallen snow… it’s hard to transition from not doing anything really to any kind of focused progress.

Except for unschoolers. They’re cool like that. But I’m more the Charlotte Mason type.

I was struggling with some gnarly health issues that kept me laying down on the couch up until Christmas. Seeing this coming, I did something in December which I now consider brilliant:

I took my December calendar, and blocked off one day for every subject I do at home. We did language arts, science, history, and electives (Spanish, programming, art, ASL). Then I blocked off one day for every holiday activity the kids wanted to do: make crafts, homemade gifts, cookies, watching Christmas movies, and sledding.

And that was ALL WE DID. Every day that didn’t have an activity was a “free day” with some rules… When we did history we did history all day, between games and movies, and reading. When we did science we did that all day too. And then it got put away and pushed away.

For the record, we covered three weeks worth of science in one day, and learned from the French and Indian War to the Revolutionary War in History.

Our rule for “free days” was you needed to do 30 minutes of math practice and reading before you went to play. But I had gift-wrapped a book for each free day that we had scheduled. They were small readers that we got through in one day, taking turns reading aloud on the couch for about an hour. It was like opening a Christmas present of knowledge and imagination every day!

This helped prepare us for going back to school tremendously. Because the information was learned very effectively! And they made considerable progress that we can build on now.

For one thing, my 8 year old went from not really reading to reading books that have 14-20 chapters and loving it. And I can tell he’s reading because his writing and grammar have improved dramatically. It was a good break in the school year that wasn’t a waste of time; we rested AND moved forward.

You’re probably thinking, “That would’ve been a wonderful suggestion for DECEMBER, Maria. But now it’s January.” It would still work! Take January’s calendar and pick a day to review and prepare for each subject you teach. Block off a day to put away Christmas decorations (and make it fun! With hot drinks and music!). Block off a day to visit your local library or a play ground. Take one day to revisit the household chores and make adjustments if necessary.

Then make the rest of the days “free days”, that is, “interest-led” days. Let them have days to just craft, or read, or practice an instrument.

It’s a good idea in January to implement a few things daily regardless of what’s on the schedule; write a thank you note (or two) and work on five math problems. Simply because the skills necessary for writing and math have to be worked on regularly and consistently.

Then progressively work on replacing thank you cards with a full language arts lesson, and doing a full math lesson instead of just five problems… add the history and then the science. Build up on it so by the last week of January the family is back to full-speed ahead.

My kids are so comfortable with their language art and math lessons we are ready, by next week, to bring back history and science again. And all their regular activities (co-op, Choir) start up again too.

Pin this post for when life happens. Surgery, travel, family illness… Knowing there’s a way to ease off the workload and ease back into it without falling behind. It’s a perk of homeschooling, and it helps! I know what it’s like to feel pressure if days or weeks go by and “school hasn’t gotten done!” I only share this because it worked so well for my household, maybe I can inspire you to think outside the box… and come out victorious!

2 thoughts on “Back to the grind…

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