It's a New Year! It's a new semester (for some), and for us, it's a new day! We are two days into our new homeschool semester and the tempers are flaring! I kid you not, yesterday, the boys carried on like I had taken away every fun thing they have ever known or experienced when I said, "it's time for lessons". The displeasure of their assignments dwelled well into the evening, and the only one who seemed remotely happy was the dog!
Little Bit was eager to get to the telly while the boys were slugging through their work, aimlessly and without intent to learn.
And here I was thinking we were going to start the new year in a pleasant way! What was I thinking? Where did I go wrong?
The answer might surprise you!
One asked, "Do we have a lot to do today?"
The other stated, "I don't want to do school today!"
I sat in my chair with my mouth dragging the floor thinking to myself, "What? Why? Who?"
And they were angry. Heavy sighs. Pencil lead breaking. These kids were different.
These were not my children and certainly not my lovely boys who are always so eager to learn - so quick to get their PC's booted and their books opened. No. Something was wrong. Something was very, terribly wrong!
I took a deep breath, hiding my crushed feelings, and asked them what was the matter. I was bruised by their replies.
"School is boring", "I haven't finished my break", "I want to do something else today", "I can't do school work today." and on, and on.
For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what happened. I closed my lesson book, sat down my coffee, and had an epiphany, right at that precise moment. They are kids.
Kids who enjoy fun stuff. "Come on mom! Step up your game!" I thought to myself. How would I make homeschool MORE fun? Yes, we would still have to do the work, but could I make it more fun? Realizing that my overzealous nature for hitting the books had been more than they could bear, I calmly dove into my mental filing cabinet. "Quick! Think! You're going to lose them!" Recalling all of the supplemental material that I had made, found, or created, I came up with a list of things that got us through our first day back.
And this is what we did!
1. I pulled out some folder games. Who says you can ever learn too much about the human body. I was saving this game for the end of the unit, but I figured with their mood, I'd better get to work on improving all of ours. Body Bingo was the game, and learning anatomy was the game. After four rounds, surely they were in a good mood, right? Wrong.
2. Popcorn reading. "Why do we have to read all the time?" my 4th grader asked as we sat down to read The Railway Children. I explained that we can do more than read - we can travel throughout the world and go back in time. We can meet people we never knew existed, and we can learn about the world through the character's lives - all by opening a book. Popcorn reading helped transition us back into the goal of reading for information and to help encourage reading for fun.
3. Brain Breaks. I've blogged about these before, but I cannot say enough about how great they are. We took a brain break about half-way through our day yesterday and imagined we were meeting our favorite music group/singer. We wrote a letter to them, described fun things in our area that they could do if they were to visit, and then, we turned the music UP and jammed for about 10 minutes. The kids were in shock that mom can dance, but mom was in shock that the remainder of the day went relatively smoothly. Brain Breaks are powerful stuff!
4. We snacked. Yes! We snacked. Who says you can't have your cake and eat it, too? Well, it wasn't cake, but tuna fish salad on crackers with a little sweet tea can really motivate you! And fish is brain food - so why not? (I'm aware of the mercury issue - don't judge me).
5. Wish granted. Near the end of our day, when we had completed all of our assignments and had the classroom tidied up, my son started a conversation with me. He asked if I could have any wish in the world, what would it be. When I told him it would be for my kids to have a love of learning that would last their entire lives, he practically barked in laughter. Then I asked him the same thing. What do you do when your kids want to play a game on the computer for thirty minutes after working so very hard? You let them play on the computer for thirty minutes because they worked so hard!
Any homeschool mom will tell you the homeschool life is never perfect. I will tell you that the perfect homeschool is nonexistent, but that doesn't mean you can't love perfectly, the homeschool you have built! I'll say it again, what works for one, might not work for all, but these are five simple things I have committed to memory for the next time we have an extended break and the kids aren't quite ready to hit the books!
Until next time,
PS - We are on day two, and so far, they are working without complaint!