When to Ditch the Curriculum

No matter how long you’ve been homeschooling, picking curriculum can be tricky. The problem with having so many options for curriculum now, is that there are so many options! How do you pick one, and how do you know when to ditch one? You can do your best to read reviews, get advice, and preview curriculum online, but even doing all of that doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with something that fits.

If a curriculum, no matter how popular, takes a child who previously loved a subject and makes them hate it, then it’s time to seriously consider switching. I started out teaching my oldest to read with a popular phonics curriculum, and it brought both of us to tears on many occasions. It was when my daughter finally declared, “I HATE reading!” that I woke up enough to set the stupid curriculum aside and just go back to reading aloud to her for a few months before trying something different. I now joke that I’m the only homeschool mom who doesn’t like X curriculum! I could add a few others to the list too though. There’s a popular science curriculum that I just can’t make myself like. Two years of it has taken my Munchkin from a girl who wanted to be a chemist, to a girl who doesn’t like science very much. That’s how I knew for certain that I needed to shop for something different to use this fall.

Sometimes, you’ll carefully research, order a curriculum, and then once you have it in hand… there’s a sinking feeling that you’ve made a mistake. That happened to me with the history curriculum I picked out for Munchkin’s Freshman year of High School. I had such a hard time choosing one, but I finally settled on one and ordered it. When it arrived, I was underwhelmed. I set my doubts aside and started planning for the fall. The more I planned and read, the less I liked the textbook. I pushed through and made copies of the worksheets and tests. The more I saw of this curriculum, the more I didn’t like it. At. All. Too many times the text seemed more concerned with pushing their opinion on the reader, rather than actually talking about history. The daily reading assignments were far too short for a high school level course, and there were no projects or writing assignments at any point in the year. The tests… well, there were a lot of reasons why I didn’t like the tests. The thing is, I spent the money and bought the curriculum. I didn’t want to waste the money, so I kept pushing forward. After talking to my husband and trying to envision using the curriculum for a year, I decided to find something better. Yep, it still irks me that I spent that money on a curriculum that I’ll likely never use, but my daughter is going to end up with a much more robust year of history because I chose to pick something different. I can’t bring myself to regret that! I’d rather “waste” a few dollars and have Munchkin keep loving history, than stick with something that’s going to make her start hating the subject altogether. Know when to listen to your gut feeling about a curriculum! You know your kid and you know yourself, and it’s better to pick something else before the start of school than to get part way through the year and have to make a switch.

I could have made the history curriculum that I ordered work. I could have added in supplemental reading, created writing assignments throughout the year, and written new tests to go with the text. It would have been a significant time investment and I still would have had a course that I wasn’t fully happy with. I honestly considered that option and even started making a list of documentaries, books, and other resources that I could add into the course. I looked at a few of the chapters and tests and tried mentally writing up a new test. If we had already started the year, then I may have done just that. Discovering the issues with the curriculum this summer, before we started school, gave me the option to find something better though. (This is one reason why pre-reading the curriculum that you ordered is a good idea!)

There are times when a mid-year switch is unavoidable. When Munchkin was in 6th grade, the math curriculum that I’d used since she was in 1st grade just wasn’t working anymore. Six weeks into the year, my husband and I agreed that it was time to switch. That’s the only time so far that we pulled a mid-year swap in curriculum, but I don’t regret it for a moment. There was a lot of discussion put into that decision, and we told our daughter that she’d have to put in a fair amount of effort to make sure she finished the new math curriculum in the time left. I can’t tell you the relief it was to her and to me, when we made the decision to switch. In that case, it’s not that the curriculum we had used was “bad”, it just required a lot more hands-on teaching time that I could devote at that point. That coupled with the lack of adequate review in that level just made it something that no longer fit our needs. Jumping to a new curriculum mid-year is definitely not my first choice, but in some cases, it’s the best one.

While there are circumstances that warrant a mid-year change, it should be the exception and not the rule. First, take a look at the reasons why something isn’t working well, and see if there’s a way for you to modify part of it and make it work for the rest of the year. If you’re not making a habit of curriculum hopscotch and you honestly can’t make a curriculum fit with your family’s needs, then make the switch and don’t feel guilty. If you discover serious problems with a curriculum before your academic year starts, then so much the better!

Teens and Work

To work, or not to work? That’s a question that everyone has an opinion on! When it comes to whether or not teens should get a job, the options are as diverse as the opinions. Just as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to homeschooling, neither is there an answer to this question that’s a perfect fit for every family and teen.

 

When navigating the question or working during the teen years, the best place to start is by having a conversation with your teen. Discuss their goals, dreams, and their plans for the years after high school graduation. All of this will help you both zero in on which options will best support those plans.

 

Also important is helping your teen understand their strengths, weaknesses, skills, and how those relate to the best kind of work for them to pursue. Someone who is outgoing and good with people may shine in sales, while a more reserved, quiet person would bloom in a more behind-the-scenes job. Ambitious teens whose “stubborn streak” gives them the perseverance to keep working hard through difficult circumstances just might be the next successful entrepreneur. One with a real talent for music and a desire to make a career out of their passion could be best served by signing up for extra music classes instead of that part-time job. Share your own observations with your teen, and help them look at themselves and their abilities objectively.

 

With so many options to explore, your teen is bound to find one that works for them.

 

Traditional Job

There’s something to be said for a job that allows you to “punch a time card” and collect a steady paycheck. Learning to be on time for your shift, accepting direction, and receiving feedback about your work gracefully are all benefits of working in a traditional job situation. If your teen works best when following instructions and receiving guidance from someone else, then a traditional job with a manager directing them and setting their work schedule is a good option.

 

Advantages:

  • A job provides steady hours, usually with a schedule set ahead of time.
  • A consistent paycheck allows teens to save up for a car, college, travel, etc.
  • Opportunities for advancement are available based on performance and hard work.
  • A teen is able to explore a particular industry further before committing to further training or education.
  • Companies may offer full or partial reimbursement for college courses taken by employees.

 

Disadvantages

  • Schedule may not be flexible, thus limiting the ability to participate in other activities.
  • Minimum hours required by their employer may not leave enough time for their studies.
  • Transportation to or from work may be problematic if your teen does not have their own car, or access to public transportation.

 

Odd Jobs

How many of us gained our first work experience by babysitting or mowing lawns? There’s always someone who’s willing to pay for services such as this, and picking up odd jobs allows a young person to work as many or as few hours as will fit into their schedule. If your teen works best independently and has developed strong time-management and scheduling skills, then odd jobs may be the perfect fit.

Advantages

  • Odd jobs provide flexibility in scheduling, allowing a teen to work more or less based on their needs.
  • This type of work allows a teen to translate skills they already have into a profitable work opportunity.
  • Teens can gain experience in scheduling and negotiating rates with clients.

 

Disadvantages

  • Unpredictable income makes it more difficult to budget spending and saving.
  • Availability of work is dependent upon word of mouth referrals or advertising.
  • One unsatisfied client can negatively impact a teen’s ability to pick up more odd jobs.

 

Family Business

A family business offers a rare opportunity to gain experience in multiple aspects of an industry. In a given week, a teen might be working in accounting, management, customer service, and more! If your teen has an interest in areas of your business, and they work well with family, this could be a good option.

 

Advantages

  • This option provides more flexibility in scheduling than a traditional job, while maintaining the accountability of working scheduled hours.
  • Teens have opportunities to learn and explore various aspects of business without switching jobs.
  • This option provides good preparation for a teen whose career goal is to take over the family business one day.

 

Disadvantages

  • Pay may not be as high as an outside job.
  • Working with the people who you already see all day, every day may cause extra friction in family relationships.

 

Starting a Business

This option has a lot in common with picking up odd jobs, but would include sales, manufacturing, and other options that don’t quite fit in the odd jobs category. For teens with an eye on entrepreneurship, this is an excellent way to test the waters before they have to rely on their income to pay the rent! If your teen is disciplined, organized, and has the perseverance to not give up when the going gets tough, they may be an excellent business owner. It’s not a good fit for teens who need a lot of direction and tend to procrastinate.

Advantages

  • Anything from jewelry-making to raising chickens can be turned into a business venture.
  • A teen gains valuable, real-world business experience.
  • Local business associations may offer mentoring programs or scholarships for young

business owners.

 

Disadvantages

  • Typically, capital must first be invested to get a business up and running.
  • There’s risk involved, and a business may not make a profit, or even recoup the initial investment.
  • The time required to run a successful business may not leave adequate time for required studies.

 

Temporary Job

Holidays and summer months frequently provide temporary job openings. If your teen wants to earn some extra money and gain job experience, but can’t commit to a regular part-time job schedule, then a seasonal job might be just right for them.

Advantages

  • A temp job allows for trying out various types of jobs over the course of the teen years because each employment period is short-term.
  • Temporary openings may lead to a long-term job in the future if an employer is impressed by a teen’s work.
  • A fairly predictable income amount allows for saving towards a particular expense.

 

Disadvantages

  • Scheduling for seasonal employees tends to be the least flexible. If employment is over the holidays, this may mean a teen won’t be able to participate in family plans for the holiday.
  • As it is short-term, a temporary job may not be sufficient to cover expenses if your teen’s goal is something along the lines of purchasing and maintaining a car.

 

Volunteer Work

This is one of the options that won’t earn your teen a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean there are no benefits! If your teen is passionate about a particular cause or industry that they can’t find part-time employment in, then a volunteer position might be their best option.

Advantages

  • Volunteer work looks good on college applications, scholarship applications, and even a resume!
  • Teens can gain experience and make contacts in the field they desire to have a career in.
  • Some organizations may place priority on applicants who are volunteers when hiring paid positions.

 

Disadvantages

  • There’s no paycheck attached to volunteer work. This is problematic if your teen needs an income or wants to save for college.
  • Some volunteer positions require a sizable time commitment that may interfere with studies. It may be tempting to justify letting education suffer because the volunteer work is helping others.

 

Academic Focus

There are valid reasons to eschew working or volunteering in favor of keeping a focus on academics during the teen years. If your teen struggles with health issues or learning disabilities, then concentrating on their education without the distraction of a job may be best for their health and their future. If a teen’s plans for college are dependent on receiving large scholarships, then it may make more sense for them to focus solely on academics.

Advantages

  • A focus on academics can result in less stress due to overscheduling.
  • Teens have the ability to focus on music classes, sports, or other interests.
  • Dual enrollment courses require a significant time commitment that does not always fit well with a side job.
  • Better grades and test scores increases opportunities for scholarships.
  • More time may be spent applying for scholarships and studying to improve SAT or ACT scores.

 

Disadvantages

  • An academics-only focus doesn’t allow for saving towards a car or college tuition.
  • It may be more difficult to find a job in college or after college due to lack of previous work experience.

 

Your Decision

Look at all of the options, and help your teen brainstorm how each one might benefit them. Keep in mind that what works for one teen may not work for their sibling. A combination of more than one of the options listed here could be ideal for your teen, or maybe even something that’s not on the list. Don’t be afraid to let them explore various ideas, and maybe even fail at something! There’s nothing that says you can’t change course mid-way through the teen years if it turns out one option isn’t working, or if your family’s circumstances change.

The teen years are full of change. You get to see your child take their first steps towards launching into their own career and becoming more independent. Whichever path your teen chooses, your guidance and encouragement are still needed in these decisions – even if that looks a little different than it did when they were younger. Enjoy the journey!

 

Start TODAY!

We start the school year off with shiny, new curriculum, perfectly organized planners, and the determination that this is the year when everything will go smoothly and according to plan! By the time January rolls around, life has happened. The new grammar workbook doesn’t work for your 4th grader, algebra is giving your freshman and run for their money, the toddler has caught every stomach bug and cold known to man, and you haven’t even looked at the planner in the last few weeks…

This is where it’s tempting to just chuck the planner and call whatever happens to get done good enough. Truthfully, most of us do better with at least some kind of structure to work with. How do you achieve that though when you are so far off track?

I’m going to give you four strategies that have been invaluable to me over the years.

1. Figure out where to start today.

Don’t worry about “catching up”. Figure out what point you’re starting out at right now. Decide what’s a reasonable amount to get accomplished today, write it in your planner, and then do that. Keep your goals manageable. Now is not the time to try and jam eight spelling tests into one day. Do the same thing tomorrow. Progress does add up, as long as we’re consistent about making progress! Keep your planner or to-do list on your desk, table, countertop – anywhere that you’ll see it often and be reminded to work on the next thing on the list.

2. Decide where to go tomorrow.

You’ve checked off your tasks for today, now you need to figure out where you’re going tomorrow and beyond. Sit down and determine what truly needs to be finished by the end of the year. Again, don’t try to cram in a bunch of assignments right now so that you can be “caught up,” but figure out how much you need to do each week, then break that up into daily assignments. Write out your lesson plans accordingly. Don’t forget to look at your family calendar and plan around any events, appointments, and the like. Add in a few buffer days, too, so that when something unexpected comes up, you aren’t completely thrown off schedule. Two tools that help me adapt and adjust are using the online My Well Planned Day planner and using erasable pens when I work in my paper planner. My Well Planned Day makes it easy to adjust our lesson plan schedule as needed, and writing plans in my paper planner using erasable pens means that I can adjust there too without my planner looking messy.

3. Take a quick look at yesterday.

I know that I’ve been telling you to focus on today and plan forward from there. We do need to take a tiny peek backwards, though, to get our record keeping up to date. Basic academic records are important whether or not you’re required to report attendance and grade transcripts to an umbrella school, organization, etc. These records will give you a picture of how your child is progressing and areas where they may need some more help. If your curriculum includes tests, writing assignments, or any sort of graded project, you’ll want to record all of the grades for those. If your curriculum doesn’t include those, then just make some notes about what your student has learned and how they are doing. Don’t overcomplicate it! Just get the grades and notes written down.

4. Make regular planning appointments with yourself.

Schedule a weekly record keeping appointment and a monthly evaluation and planning session. Keeping your records up to date every week is far more manageable than trying to do it only once or twice a year, and it helps you keep a better handle on your child’s progress.

Monthly check-ins have become a wonderful tool for my own planning, and I actually look forward to them. Sit down with your planner and a notebook. Make sure that you have all of the appointments for the upcoming month listed in your planner. Then, look at the progress that’s been made over the past month and jot down what you have gotten done. Take a close look at what worked and what didn’t so that you can adjust your plans for the upcoming month accordingly.

No matter where you’re starting out today, you can make progress and move forward. Stop worrying about what you haven’t gotten done and decide what you’re going to do today. Write it down and then go do it!

Well… That Didn’t Go as Planned…

I’m big on plans. I have more planners and checklists than I probably need. In the immortal words of Hannibal from The A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together!” Plans I can do, adapting when everything goes sideways? Not as much…

I felt so optimistic about the start of this school year. I had stuff figured out, and this was going to be a great year. The new books were stacked neatly on the table, cupcakes baked and frosted, and everyone excited to get started. It was all going according to the plan. Until one of the kids turned an alarming shade of pale in the middle of our lessons and said, “Mom, I feel like I’m going to be sick…” A bit later, a second kid did the exact same thing. That was most certainly not in the lesson plan. I soldiered on with the other two, hoping that a bit of rest on the couch and saltines would do the trick with the two on the edge of illness.

I discovered that I have a child who is wonderful with numbers, but would rather have his teeth pulled then work on learning to read. Intellectually, I understand that not every 6-year-old is quite ready to be reading proficiently yet. The avid reader in my finds this frustrating though.

By afternoon, the two kids on the couch had more color and were feeling well enough to finish their lessons. And that’s when I discovered that copywork was going to take one of my kids a really long time. Not because he struggles with his handwriting. He has some of the nicest penmanship of any of us, myself included! Rather, he seems to have inherited my easily-distracted personality. The more simple and un-challenging the task, the more distractible I am. Sorry kiddo, didn’t mean to pass that particular thing on to any of you.

We did manage to get everything done that day that we needed to. Let’s not discuss what time it was when we finished. Today, we’ve managed to be done by about 2:30. (The kid are anyway. I still have to check math assignments for today. No, I’m definitely not procrastinating by blogging…)

We’re off to a rocky start, but it is a start. I keep looking at the verse I wrote on a post-it note and stuck to my monitor. The first line of 2 Corinthians 4:16 is going to be my motto: “Therefore we do not give up.”

Has our first week gone according to plan? Not even close. Have we accomplished the things we needed to? It may have taken a while, but yes. Have the kids learned things this week? Definitely.

OK then, we’re not giving up. As I tell my kids, probably more often than they’d like to hear, the best and most rewarding things I’ve done in life have been the hardest and required the most work. We’ll put in the work, say a prayer for strength (and sanity), and we’ll just keep going.

How has the beginning of the academic year gone for you? Let me know in the comments!

We did get to do a pretty cool experiment on day 1 that involved a 9v battery, copper wires, and a water/baking soda solution. It was interesting to watch and gave me an excuse to raid my IT staff’s tool box to borrow something to strip the shielding off the wire ends! (Note: If the science book tells you to use scissors to strip the shielding off wires, it’s WELL worth it to find someone you can borrow an actual wire stripping tool from.)

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Summer, Printables, and Checklists

Technically, we do year-round school. However, we take the month of August off, and the other two summer months typically boast shorter school days because at this point we’ve completed the curriculum for some of the subjects. You know what that means, right? Kids get bored. Someone in a local homeschool group shared a link to a “Summer Rules” checklist that kids have to complete before using electronics. I thought it was a cool idea and a good way to keep the kids busy doing productive things once they’ve completed their schoolwork. Here’s a link to the blog where you can find the printables at Thirty Handmade Days.

I’ve filled mine in by hand, but there’s also an option for a list that’s already filled out and ready to go. I liked the pre-filled list, but decided to print out the blank one so that I could tweak it just a bit. (Of course!) I definitely want them to keep up with reading every day, and doing something that’s creative/educational. The kids are all doing their own laundry now, but since it’s new for some of them, I thought sticking the reminder to check on it would keep them from suddenly having no clothes to wear. The item about bringing Mom coffee was added just to make everyone laugh! (I don’t think I would actually trust anyone to make me coffee!)

I also noticed some of the other printables offered on Thirty Handmade Days and really liked the Summer Reading Challenge Bookmarks too. I laminated one for me and each of the three older kids. I told them that anyone who gets all of the circles on their bookmark punched by the end of the summer will get a special prize! Naturally, they wanted to know what the prize was, and I told them that it was a special surprise, so they couldn’t know yet. Actually, I’m not sure what the prize is yet! I have a couple of ideas, but if anyone has a great suggestion, then please leave a comment!

For chore ideas I just check my Clean Mama calendar or seasonal checklist. Clean Mama has a great list of printables too, and I just loved both of her books! (Can you tell how much I like checklists yet?)

So, do you love printables and checklists as much as I do? In any case, let me know what your summer plans are in the comments!

Questioning the Legality of Common Core

I honestly don’t care what the standards laid out in Common Core are. Some sort of federal educational standards have been around for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, Common Core, or whatever catchy name they come up with next, it’s basically the same ideas with a new brand. The reason why I oppose all of them has nothing to do with the standards themselves. You see, the federal government has absolutely no jurisdiction or authority when it comes to educational standards. The federal Department of Education cannot legally exist if we look to the Constitution.

First, let’s clear up a common misconception: The United States Constitution does not grant you any rights. Rather, it’s an employee manual written to the federal government. It details the responsibilities and authority entrusted to the federal government. The Bill of Rights details a number of inherent rights that they are prohibited from interfering with or infringing upon. The Tenth Amendment also clearly states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution details the specific powers that are in the hands of Congress. Nowhere in that list is education even hinted at. One might argue that the Department of Education falls under the Executive Branch, but as the Executive Branch is only to implement law as passed by Congress, and not write their own law, that’s not a valid argument. The Executive Branch cannot act outside of law passed by Congress, and as Congress has no jurisdiction over matters of education, neither one can enact any sort of binding educational standards.

My problem with federal educational standards has nothing to do with the content of said standards. It has everything to do with the question of the Constitutional legality of the very existence of any federal educational standards.

It’s no secret that a fair number of public schools fail to meet the minimums of any one of the DOE educational standards over the past few decades. What no one can seem to agree on, is what needs to be done in response to that. A change in the amount of federal funding the school in question receives is one idea, but that brings us to another sticky legal issue…

This will of course vary from state to state, but according to Article 8, Section 1 of the Maine State Constitution – “…the Legislature are authorized, and it shall be their duty to require, the several towns to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the support and maintenance of public schools…” (Emphasis mine.) According to the law in Maine, public schools must be solely funded by the towns, and may not accept funding from the state or federal government. In short, if the town is paying the tuition, then the town should decide which standards the school must meet. Admittedly, the public schools in Maine do accept state and federal funds for their operation, and are thus in violation of the Maine Constitution. We can’t pick and choose which parts of the Constitution we’ll follow though. We must either amend it or follow it, and laws or regulations that do not align with it need to be repealed immediately.

Ultimately, the responsibility for a child’s education lies on the shoulders of the parent, and to an increasing degree as they grow older, on the student themselves. Whether a student is enrolled in public schools, private schools, or is homeschooled, parental involvement in education is key. No amount of government grants or educational standards can change that… and neither should they try.

The Messy Side of Creativity

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

My kids are creative. I love that about them! I can’t say that I’m overly fond of the chaos that tends to go hand in hand with creativity though…

In a fit of frustration I asked, “How do you encourage creativity without the house getting trashed?” I do realize that I’ll have to put up with some amount of chaos. My husband and I homeschool four kids, have a very large dog, and both work from home. Life (and our home) are bound to get a bit crazy.

I’ve found a few strategies that help reduce the crazy factor though!

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Art boxes for everyone!

Each kid has their own plastic art box. This is where they can keep their art projects that they are still working on, and finished ones that they would like to keep. We store their art boxes in a cabinet in the dining room so that they are easy to get to, but out of sight when put away. Art projects still have a tendency to pile up here and there, but now I can tell the kids that they need to put them in their art boxes. What happens when the boxes are full? That’s when the kids go through the contents and decide what they want to keep, and what they don’t.

What do I do with all of these LEGOs?

I found the cutest LEGO organizer. It held six plastic boxes that would snap closed, keeping the LEGO sets separate and organized. Turns out my kids are much less OCD than I am. They prefer the LEGO kits to be mixed together into a giant mish-mash of creative possibilities! What’s worked the best for us is a set of inexpensive plastic drawers and a couple of plastic bins with lids. Yes, I still have to remind the kids that picking up the LEGOs means that all of them are in the drawers or boxes, but keeping them stored in closed containers seems to cut down on the number of LEGOs that find my bare feet!

Markers, and crayons, and glue sticks! Oh my!

Art supplies will take over my dining room without a plan for corralling them. Magazine holders and plastic shoeboxes are the key for doing that. The magazine holders are perfect for containing all kinds of paper from construction paper to graph paper. They fit on my bookshelves neatly and keep the paper from getting wrinkled. The plastic shoeboxes from the dollar store stack well, and again, they fit on my bookshelves! Markers go in one box, crayons in another, and so on. (This is also a great organizing solution for your hands-on manipulatives.) I get the clear boxes so that the kids can easily see which box has the items that they’re looking for. The lidded boxes work so much better than open bins because they are stackable and things tend to stay better contained when there’s a lid involved.

That is not coming in my house…

Creativity doesn’t stop when the kids go outside! My kids would happily bring every interesting rock, leaf, stick, feather, piece of bark, and frog that they find in our backyard. I have to have limits on what is allowed in the house, and what isn’t. They each have a small tin that they are allowed to keep rocks and shells in. Like their art boxes, when their tin is full, it’s time to pare down their collection. When it comes to living creatures, the only one allowed to come inside is our German Shepherd. A mom has to draw the line somewhere, right?

Creativity will never be mess-free, but having a place for everything is a great starting point. Yes, I still have to remind the kids more often than I’d like that they have to pick up their projects when they are done working on them, but at least they know where to put things! That makes picking up so much easier and faster for everyone.

Burnout Tips from the Trenches

February has jokingly been called Homeschool Mom Burnout Month. After a few years of homeschooling, I could see why! Is every February destined to be the month that pushes your sanity to the limit? This year, maybe it’s possible for us to avoid the worst of the burnout with a few of these tips from some of my fellow home educators.

The power of a good night’s sleep.

Make sure everyone is getting enough rest, and that includes Mom and Dad! If you’re constantly tired out and feeling exhausted, then everything is harder to handle. Adequate sleep reduces stress and makes it so much easier to focus. (Not to mention helping your body fight off all of the germs that go around during winter months.)

Schedule regular breaks.

Certainly, homeschoolers are used to making the most of any learning opportunity that comes out way. While that’s one of the great advantages of homeschooling, taking a break from regular lessons is important too. Our minds need time to rest just as much as our bodies do!

Stay connected.

Bears may hibernate during the winter, but homeschooling parents should not. Never getting out and taking a break can stretch frayed nerves to the breaking point. Go meet friends for coffee. Join a book club or Bible study. Invite a friend over for muffins some morning. Time spent with friends gives you a break and a chance to recharge your batteries.

It’s not all academic.

Much as it seems like it at times, you’re not only a homeschooler. There will always be more planning to do and one more assignment to grade. Sometimes, you just need to step back and do something that is not related to school. Take an hour to work on your favorite hobby. Read a book about something other than homeschooling. Don’t ignore your own interests and projects!

Switching it up.

Now is when you want to grab a unit study, add in a few educational videos, pick up a new read-aloud, or anything else that will break up the routine a bit. Maybe there’s a great field trip opportunity that you’ve been wanting to try, and this is the perfect time to do that! I’ll bet the kids got a science experiment kit or educational game for Christmas. Things like that are great to pull out this time of year.

Eat well and exercise.

I know, this isn’t the most fun thing to do. Personally, I have a tendency to skip meals, eat too much sugar, and let exercising land at the bottom of the to-do list. On the other hand, when I do pay attention to my own eating habits and take time out to get some exercise, I feel so much better! It’s not new advice, but it turns out that it really is good advice!

When all else fails, take some time off.

Despite our efforts, sometimes burnout overwhelms us anyway. When that happens, the best advice is to just take some time off. There will be time to “catch up” later if necessary. It’s better to take a few days or weeks off and come back refreshed than to keep pushing and end up even more worn out. Everyone needs time off now and again, so don’t feel guilty when it’s your turn!

The one piece of advice that I have found to help the most of all is in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”