Spring is springing, and if you’re like so many others, your head is spinning! This is the time of year when you’re assessing student progress, scheduling end of the year testing, prepping those portfolios for review, and checking it all twice, right? It’s also the season for longer, warmer days and the desire to bask in the sun so you can thaw out your frozen winter bones and inhale fresh air! No matter the age, kids and adults are staring out the window instead of finishing tasks, and it feels like you’d all rather be doing….something else. Enter: Spring fever!
I always find it so easy to get excited about the upcoming year and all things new, but somehow closing the deal on the current year is always harder than anticipated. So, here are my eight best tips to break the fever and help you to finish strong! These tips are a great way to help build flexibility, increase focus and attention, decrease anxiety, tap into multisensory learning, and still be able to shake those shivers!
- Implement a new reward system to help you get through chores! Our two favorites are Chore Monster (choremonster.com) and the Irewardchart app, aka Earning Stars (www.irewardchart.com). Here you can build specific chore lists, behavior modifications, and set your own reward value systems. One of the best features is that they go with you to make it easier to be consistent. Be sure to set rewards higher for the things that are more of a struggle for each child to increase incentive. We particularly loved this as a way to keep track of earning TV/device time. This reward system has my kiddos setting their alarms to do chores!
- Cut out the fat! Stick to the subjects that are a MUST and head outside! Somehow in our year, we manage to pick up a few extra supplements or we add some fluff. When the going gets tough, or in this case, sunny…learn to scale back on the books and feed the senses and mind outdoors!
- Let the kids set the schedule for the day, and they’ll feel like they are getting one over on you! Take turns making index cards for each of the things that need to be done for the day. Don’t forget that things they see as essential are important too! For my kids, our new trampoline is essential, and JUMP TIME is an absolute must! This is particularly great for kids who struggle with being flexible, sticking to or breaking routine, or needing to have control. (Okay, and maybe some parents too.)
- School with friends! (GASP!) It’s not taboo to gather a group of fun friends and meet at your home (or theirs) to do work together! It’s fun to see how encouraging a group of friends can be even at the youngest of ages, and it’s refreshing to see how proudly they showcase their accomplishments! Be sure to do a few activities or a round of “show and tell” together.
- Move “school” to a new location; try the library, a coffee shop, or the park! We love to school at our local Books-A-Million and check out the new gadgets and books on breaks between subjects. (Often these trips are a reward tied to the previously mentioned reward chart.)
- Trade your usual bookwork for a field trip or experiential learning. Check local historical places, social media, homeschool support groups, or set up your own! One of our favorite things to do is buy or make what we call a “live animal study.” We pick a company such as insectlure.com or www.nature-gifts.com and we order caterpillars, tadpoles, or ladybugs and their habitats to watch them grow at home. If you haven’t tried this, it’s enjoyable for all ages. We implement unit studies and feed our own curiosity about these creatures. It doesn’t even feel like work.
- Take a break and have a game day! Check out this blog by HSLDA blogger Sara Jones, Education in the Classics. You can use games to achieve many of your educational goals, and they won’t even notice!
- Renew your energy and focus at a local homeschool conference or curriculum fair! If you are new to homeschooling or even if you’re a veteran, there’s always encouragement and something new for everyone! Check for one in your area at http://www.hslda.org/about/calendar/.
As you’re wrapping up your year-end summary of accomplishments and trying to stay on task, remember to make sure that your light is still shining. You are the illuminating beam of momentum and spirit in your homeschool. It’s easy to become sidetracked, lose focus, or become discouraged, so I leave you with this verse to keep the wind in your sails:
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” –Romans 12:12