Today’s Unspoken Homeschool Secret
The secret: After X years, we all homeschool a little worse than we used to.
The number varies. For some, 4-5 years is the threshold. For others, it takes getting the first one through high school and then the doldrums follow.
The older kids get the benefit of your eager energy and boundless curiosity.
You hope the younger kids get the benefit of your experience, but sometimes they get the tedium of your boredom.
Where you once drew maps of the Native American hunting grounds to help your older children learn about early American history, your younger kids are left to read a book by themselves.
Where seeing the oldest child read was akin to the first time she held her head up by herself, by the last child of six, you worry that it will never happen. You are weary of sounding out. It feels so slow.
You’re not alone. All educators go through dry spells. The creative well runs dry after years of drawing from it. You can’t get to “new” or “imaginative” through repeating what you’ve always done.
You’re not alone. All educators go through dry spells.
It matters that you reset the dial and that comes through a few deliberate choices:
Take real time off.
It’s easy to “sorta school” all summer. You feel badly that you didn’t finish some book or topic during the year so you tell yourself you will “sorta” work on it off and on all summer (math, reading, writing). Then you kind of try to do a little of it once in a while, feeling guilty for not hitting it harder. Perhaps you never get to it and so instead of a rest, you simply slather yourself with guilt like suntan oil. No matter what, you don’t successfully purge the guilt by your half-hearted efforts. What you are feeling (and need) is a genuine break!
Take one. Don’t push any specific subject. Be with your kids in free, new ways. Play games, go to the pool, take walks, do all the arts and crafts you never did during the year, have friends over, go to museums or the zoo. Put the books away.
Get away on your own.
Difficult to do if you have babies, but you can take the baby with you. Go away for a whole day, if you can. Make it a day that revives you: art museum without kids, library, beach, delightful cafe for a yummy salad, nature preserve, indoor rock climbing center, one-session of yoga, a painting class, a wine-tasting, the symphony, a professional baseball game…
You do need this. Time alone should not be optional. If you find a way to put a few hours together every week for yourself, even better.
Notice that it’s warm outside.
Drink lemonade, wear sandals, and paint your toenails. Winter is so cruel. Now is the time to feel the sun on your skin and to notice it. I’ve been trying to sit on my deck for at least 10-15 minutes per day. I put a hibiscus plant out there (pink blossoms, new every day!). Makes me so happy. It’s the little things, right?
Pick two. Make them happen.
Badminton, corn hole, ladder ball, croquet, volleyball, bonfires, s’mores, twinkle lights over the deck/patio.
Happy life results.
Simply acknowledge: I’m exhausted! Then have a little guilt-free fun.
I like this perspective…I was JUST feeling “guilty” about this very thing the other day…how much more I did when I “only” had 3 children, and how different school is for the 3 younger ones.
However, I thought I would add, that I realized I trained the older ones well to love learning, so I am often amazing (and frankly, blown away) by the fact that sometimes the older ones step in and do far more with the younger ones (without even being asked!) and better than I did. They come up with more creative and fun projects than I ever did. We need to celebrate and look for these kind of things, too, instead of thinking that we, as the mom, have to do it all. This is a huge break in itself.
The younger ones also benefit from me being more confident and not worrying that every little thing I do (or forget to do) will ruin them!
And thank you for the “permission” to take time off instead of having to finish up everything. Sometimes I need to hear that it’s okay!
Lovely comment! I am about to write about how to manage multiples and you have a brilliant depiction of what happens in large families right here!