Some days of homeschooling are just plain hard. The teacher is feeling drained and ready to quit. The students are acting up, not focusing or staying motivated to learn. As the day unfolds, tears and tempers let loose.
What can be done to turn around a rough homeschooling day? Here are a few ideas:
1) Change the environment
This can be as simple as taking everyone outside into the backyard for half an hour to decompress and get some energy out. If you have the scheduling flexibility, maybe take a short trip to a local park or the local library. Even take a quick walk/run around the block!
Getting out of the stressful environment can help reset everybody’s mindsets and attitudes and help turn around a rough homeschooling day.
2) Come back to the challenging problem/issue
As a homeschool alumna, I recall a particularly challenging day during the high school years where I was struggling with a certain mathematical problem. I had tried to solve this particular problem multiple times with no success and it was just becoming frustrating.
My mom and I talked and decided to put it aside for now and come back to it a few hours later. I began a new subject and welcomed the change. When I finally got back to it, much more refreshed, I solved it on the first try!
Sometimes just taking a break lets your brain rest, and when it comes back to the problem, the answer is much easier to find.
3) Take a 5-10 minute breathing space – parent and children!
This one might be on a similar vein, but depending on how frazzled everyone is, it might be the quickest and easiest one to try first.
Simply take a short break and dance, use the bathroom, read a funny story or joke, have an impromptu tickle or pillow fight…sometimes we just need to step away for a moment to breathe and re-compose ourselves.
Breaking into the stressful situation with a different activity can help turn around a rough homeschooling day and give everyone the proverbial deep breath they need to calm down.
4) Remember you and your children are human.
Children get tired and lose focus a lot quicker than we often realize. In the preschool and elementary years, most students can only focus for about 20 mins on the young end to 2 hours on the high end.
Other life events like a new baby in the home, family illness, and more can affect children just as much as adults. In these seasons of life, it’s important to give yourself a lot of grace too.
As a parent getting little sleep or bearing a lot of stress right now, losing your patience and feeling like a failure is totally understandable. You are human and we all have these tough days, but you will get through this season and into better ones.
5) Step back and remember that rough days are temporary.
This can be difficult in the moment, but recalling that this too will pass can help put things in perspective.
The child who is refusing to do the assignment, the other child who is melting down amidst a sibling fight…these tough days may seem infuriating as you are living through them, but in the grand scheme of things, it is but a blink of an eye in terms of the years you have with your children. And even if today was a rough day in homeschooling history, tomorrow is new and everyone can try again.
If you talk to veteran homeschool parents, they will all have stories or memories of bad days. No parent is perfect and no children are perfect. However, the majority of them will probably also share that the good days and memories far outshine the bad ones.
Homeschooling is a journey of love and sacrifice, which means embracing the valleys as well as the mountain tops. And once children are graduated and grown, those difficult days of homeschool will be but a distant memory.