None of us set out to intentionally steal our homeschooler’s joy.
It can creep up on us, especially if we have a child who is a pleaser or a child who is especially hard on themselves.
If you are a parent who prides herself on checking off boxes, being “diligent” in your children’s education, and maintaining a predictable schedule, it could easily happen to you.
One day your homeschool is buzzing along - of course you have the occasional bad day (just like everyone else), your children are completing their work - they are even being compliant and diligent.
And then it HITS you. (Or, maybe it doesn’t hit you - which is why I’m writing this post… consider yourself hit.)
Your children - and you, for that matter - have lost their joy. Everyone is functioning and getting the task of homeschooling completed, but the shine, sparkle, and JOY of learning are gone.
It’s happened to me (on multiple occasions), and I want to give us all reminder, pep talk, and encouragement that we need.
Put Yourself In Your Children’s Shoes
Yesterday it was SO HOT here in Georgia. 93 degrees in the middle of September isn’t right.
I had to get out of the house, so I dropped something off to a friend and then stopped for a cold drink at a cute coffee shop on the way home.
As I was sitting there enjoying this break in the day I thought about my 14-year-old at home. He was at his desk working through his list of assignments for the day. Math, Latin, Debate, Logic, Piano Practice, Reading, Science.
I COULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT.
I had already maxed out after a few hours at home in the morning. I needed a change of scenery, something cool to drink, and a little bit of human interaction (with people not related to me!).
He’s a good worker and puts pressure on himself to finish his assignments each day so he can have free time in the evening. He likes to leave for basketball at 3:30 knowing his schoolwork is complete. I’ve started to feel like he’s almost robotic going through the motions of checking off the boxes.
I immediately was convicted that we need to work on more JOY and flexibility in our homeschool. If I truly put myself in Grant’s shoes I would have been feeling bored and not incredibly inspired to dig much deeper into my subjects than beyond what was simply assigned.
Here’s the Instagram post I made (click if you want to read all of my thoughts and the insightful comments, too!)
Then I also thought back to when my kids were younger.
How many times did I put off the “fun” until all of our work was accomplished? Our best days were those where we put the fun first - and turned our learning into a field trip, hands-on activity, or a game. Because guess what? My college girl now remembers the JOY over the academics.
I know I can’t always scrap a day of school in favor of a day of joy with a teenager who has a challenging curriculum. And, it is important to teach diligence, perseverance, and fortitude - but I also know there are simple ways to make life and learning more joyful - that are applicable to all ages.
5 Ways to Put the Joy Back in Your Homeschool
Shock Your Children! Don’t be afraid to hop in the car and go get ice cream. Or, if it’s an excruciatingly hot day, head to the local creek (with swimsuits) and take your current read aloud. Try it - this week do one spontaneous thing that will shock your kids! Depending on the type of parent you are, these activities will vary, right?
Change Your School Location How about going to the local coffee shop to set up for school? Or, if it’s a nice day, how about heading to your favorite outdoor spot to do school? How about you let the kids decide the location (within reason).
Go to the Library. Really. It’s so simple, isn’t it? A trip to the library can change everything for the day.
Go to the Movies. I did this a few years ago with my kids. I remember it vividly - it was a Thursday and we woke up with everyone in a bad mood. At lunch time we headed to the movie theater to eat popcorn for lunch and see Chimpanzee. The best thing was that there wasn’t another SOUL in the theater. We had the place to ourselves. We learned a lot about chimpanzees and made a memory.
Declare a Theme Day You’ve probably heard me talk about our famous Angry Birds Day. I woke the kids up and declared the entire day Angry Birds. We played the game on the iPad. We did a Chalk Pastel art project. We had a physical Angry Birds game. We did all things Angry Birds and it was a blast.
These are just a few ideas to get you started, but you get the point, right?
GRACE - and Be Vigilant!
Moms, I know we are famous for being our own worst critics. If you feel like you have been guilty of stealing your homeschooler’s JOY, remember that GRACE abounds.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You care enough to homeschool your kids. I always contend that my kids worst day in our homeschool was better than any day in public school.
Just remember to be vigilant - on the lookout for kids that seem to have lost their spark and love of learning.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes every now and then and see how YOU are feeling about learning.