Starting a new homeschool year is so exciting! Just the thought of sharpened pencils that still have their erasers, fresh notebooks, and newly cracked books set my heart racing.
Yes, I’m totally that mom.
I’m also the mom who knows from experience that no matter how new my curriculum is or how sparkly my markers are, there is bound to be some struggle a few weeks into the school year.
The transition from summer to fall is tough even for those of us who homeschool year round. As the days get cooler and we spend more and more time inside together during the fall, a few hiccups and occasional train-wrecks are nigh unavoidable.
So how can you save the homeschool year when your first quarter has a rocky start?
Well, it’s not easy, friend, but it’s doable. Here are seven tips to help you stay on course when your homeschool year has a rocky start.
1. Make Peace with Imperfection
As much as we might like to have a group of cooperative, eager-to-learn kids every single morning, the reality is often different. Starting a new routine or grade level may exacerbate this reality.
Total truth? Some mornings, Mom isn’t all that shiny and happy to be at the morning table either. We can’t always control how we feel, but we can acknowledge it, accept it, and move forward anyway.
2. Encourage Positive Habits
When we are rested, fed, and safe, we are more apt to enjoy learning. We can help our kids adjust to a new schedule by ensuring every day has room for
- free play
- nourishing meals
We can also adjust our expectations for days that are plagued by sickness or that follow an emotionally intense or busy day.
3. Allow an Adjustment Period
Before throwing the new curriculum in the trash or putting your child back on the bus after an intense argument, give yourself and your kids a chance to adjust. Anything new—good or bad—takes practice and exposure before it’s comfortable.
True confession? We almost didn’t do Sonlight Science after a ping pong ball in the toilet incident. How can I trust kids with clay and citric acid if they are having trouble controlling themselves around a ping pong ball? Well, we start with the ping pong ball and other safe materials as we all adjust to the organized chaos that is experiments with four young kids.
Giving up after a couple of rough days would have been a mistake. I’m so grateful we didn’t miss out on Sonlight Science which is now one of our favorite subjects!
4. Be Open
If you’re having a rough time getting started and things aren’t clicking, it’s okay to admit that things aren’t going as well as you hoped. When your kids are struggling you might even say to them, “We just haven't found our groove yet.”
Yet is huge! It lets them know you aren’t giving up and that it will happen eventually.
5. Expect Bad Days
Bad days are as given as gravity. Remind yourself and your kids that bad days are going to happen—even when everything is planned ahead, the curriculum is the best on the market, and everyone is wearing new clothes. Especially when everyone is wearing new clothes. I joke, but you get the point.
No matter how much we prepare and perfectly arrange our homeschool, life has twists and turns we can't anticipate. You'll at times get behind on your homeschool schedule. Facing setbacks with perseverance, grit, and faith goes a long way to defining and strengthening us as a homeschool family.
6. Remain Humble
Homeschool is challenging. When things go right, mind your manners and send a prayer of thanks, because when they go wrong we are quickly reminded how much we need Him in our lives.
Even in the roughest patches there is always something for which to be grateful. Hold onto it, treasure it, and thank God for it! None of us have all of the answers all of the time. If you are in a rough season it’s okay to ask for help from family, friends, church, or other support groups.
7. Homeschooling Doesn't Define You
Remember that a rough spot at the start of your homeschool year does not need to define your entire year, nor does it define you or your kids. You are so much more than just a homeschool mom! You are an amazing person who has chosen to give so much of themselves for the betterment of your family.
Sure, homeschooling is part of your life, but it’s not your whole life. Be sure to keep this slice of time in perspective and not let it overwhelm.
- Take a breath.
- Read a book.
- Go for a walk.
- Engage in your hobby.
- Talk about something (anything) else with your husband.
- Send up prayers and gratitude.
- Hug your kids.
- Call a friend.
Make sure to count all those little successes that will add up over time and just keep homeschooling! You can do this!
Choosing the right curriculum makes all the difference for your school year. If your homeschool needs a makeover, consider Sonlight.