The Secret to Surviving Bad Homeschool Days
If we’re being entirely honest, a bad homeschool day is still better than a good public-school day. And yet, just knowing that really does nothing to help us through surviving the bad homeschool day while it’s going on. There are some ways we can deal with bad homeschool days that will make them totally survivable and much easier to shoulder.
Whatever you do, make sure that you intentionally plan on not giving up. Homeschool disclosure policy - bad days will happen. You can jot that down in your planner long before the school year starts! We are human, our children are little humans, and we live in a world where things happen that are out of control. That is truly the first step in making bad days easier to walk through. These great tips are great homeschool tips and will encourage you and help you through the homeschool days.
The Secret to Surviving Bad Homeschool Days
Take Time to Pray
I feel like prayer is often one of the most overlooked elements of a Christian homeschooler’s plan, yet is one of our greatest homeschool resources. We so often fall prey to feeling like God is somewhere beyond the ceiling of our lives and that our prayers, if we “have time” to pray them, just bounce off the ceiling. But we have some precious promises in the Word for days that seem especially tough. Just consider these:
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall review their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
These are just four Scriptures that most of us already know very well. There are so many more that we can find in our own personal devotion time that will strengthen and encourage us on a day-to-day basis. I would encourage you to take some time before you ever start your day and get alone with God. Even if it’s just for five or ten minutes to start. You’ll see the difference this makes for the rest of your day and soon, you’ll be excited for that time alone with God when you can share with him all your worries and concerns about your homeschool day. He certainly does care about them!
Connect with a Friend or Another Homeschooler
Sometimes, realigning your day can be as simple as reaching out to another homeschooling mom or connecting with someone from your local co-op or private homeschooling group. If you don’t have anyone locally, there are many good support groups online and on social media that are usually quick to jump to the aid of a homeschool mom that’s having a bad day. Hearing a few encouraging words can make the difference between a failed day and a salvaged day, so don’t sit around waiting for things to just magically “change”.
This is especially the case if the root of your bad homeschooling day lies in something other than “just a bad day”. It could be that you’re using the wrong homeschooling method for your child’s specific learning style. Or maybe you have a curriculum that simply doesn’t cater to your family’s needs in content, schedule, or some other characteristic. Again, there are so many different ways to assess the situation, even from this one angle. But if you pay attention, and heed sound advice, you’ll come out on top every time.
If in the midst of your bad homeschool day, you suddenly realize that it always gets like this at a specific time, then you might need to change something. For example, are Fridays always harder because it’s payday and you have to do more running around than usual? Or could it be that you’ve been using the same schedule for months or maybe years on end? We all fall prey to empty scheduling that really doesn’t profit anyone. Don’t get me wrong… habits are important! Especially when it comes to devotional time, eating meals together, or personal hygiene.
However, some homeschooling routines we find ourselves in just offer no real benefit. And, if that’s the case, maybe you could try doing a Unit Study for a week instead of cramming tons of textbook notes. Or watch an educational film. Throw a bookmark in a great book and read it over the course of a whole week. Take a nature walk. There are lots of things to do and a simple Google search can yield more than you’ll be able to keep up with. And, next week, you can get back to your routine but a break may be what you and your family needs.
Take an Impromptu Field Trip
There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t simply stop what you’re doing and leave the house for an impromptu field trip! In fact, this unexpected turn of events could immediately change your child’s perspective, replacing disdain with excitement at the adventure ahead. Remember to take along notebooks, writing and drawing instruments, cameras, audio recorders… anything that might make the field trip more memorable and easier to record.
It’s a good idea to create an extensive list of field trip possibilities at the start of the school year for quick reference at times like this. In fact, you could pull the children in to help create the list so you’re sure to include things they will enjoy the most.
It’s entirely possible that a child’s bad day can be the result of having too much energy and not enough outlet for it. Fresh air, sunshine, and a good chunk of playtime can often cure many ills when it comes to your child. They can’t always explain to you what’s going on, because they aren’t always able to understand it themselves. But it’s worth a try!
Just getting outside into the backyard or taking the dog for a walk can completely change the landscape of your day. Doing this right before lunch, instead of getting right back into the schoolwork, can also draw out the experience, giving you time to discuss your outing, relish the good feeling that comes from it, and then refocusing your energy towards the rest of the day’s work.
Activities Instead of Lessons
Textbooks and curriculum strategies work well most of the time, especially in theory. However, there are times when activities not only present the material in a way that’s easier to understand on a particularly tough day, it also helps to throw off the “routine” just enough to feel new and refreshing. Keep puzzles, educational games, books, and art supplies handy so that you can switch over quickly and easily. Children are often lost in play, which is how they really see many of these activities, and their “bad mood” can vanish as quickly as it set in. This is definitely a secret stash worth taking the time to create!
Just Take the Day Off!
If nothing else seems to be working or is feasible just call the day off, right where it stands. Public schools do this from time to time in the event of bad weather or some special event. And you certainly have the option, as the educator, of knowing that emotional “bad weather” can cause you to fare much worse while accomplishing absolutely nothing. There’s no reason to push through sometimes when you can already see the situation is lost. Of course, this isn’t a recipe for every day or for every little problem. But simply stepping away, knowing you can make up for the lost time when everyone is feeling better, is sometimes just what the doctor ordered!
As I said when we started, bad days are going to come. And sometimes, they’re more frequent than we would like them to be. They don’t always mean that things are necessarily “wrong”, but they can point to the need for a quick change in routine. Think about your own days and your own activities. Don’t you sometimes just have a bad day for no apparent reason?
During these times, it’s important to allow grace for yourself and for your child instead of throwing up your hands in despair. When you approach it this way, it’s more possible that you might actually learn something from the situation that you can pass along to another flailing homeschool mom at some point. And then, you’ll be happy to help.
Stacey is an author, blogger, and former homeschool mother who loves to encourage and uplift, especially on the subjects of faith and homeschooling. She lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, Jimmy, and their two children. For more information, visit her website, Words From The Wheel.