My youngest was newly three years old. She had been potty trained for about two months. My other children were almost 9, 8, and 5. We were starting school back from Christmas break. We had just moved into our house about three months prior and were still getting used to the idea of having a school room. I had dreamed of that room. It was the first room I set up when we moved into the house. It was beautiful… work space for the kids, shelves for books and supplies, computers set up in various areas, work stations, toys. It was a room where we could all be together, huddled and invested in whatever wonderful thing we were learning about or creating together.
I had our morning meeting board all ready. It was a tri-fold poster board. In the middle was the calendar with Velcro pieces. On the sides were laminated sheets to write the verse of the week, vocabulary words, weather, etc. I had a basket ready with a read aloud. The kids workboxes were filled with the work I had so thoughtfully planned out.
I called the children to come down and told them it was time to start school. The eager pitter patter of feet came down the hall and started making their way down the stairs. Suddenly, it all stopped and I heard a very loud, “Mommmmmmm!!! She’s peeing on the stairs!” I rounded the corner to be met with a waterfall coming down my stairs that started at the three year old. I was so mad. So. Mad. I grabbed up the three year old, stripped her down, and plopped her into the tub. I went into my bedroom, closed the door, climbed back in bed, and pulled the covers over my head.
My husband walked in and asked what happened. I told him that I was done. I tried and it didn’t work and I was done. He said, “Ok” and walked back out the door to clean up the waterfall and the three year old. I was done. I couldn’t bring myself to go back downstairs and try again. I had been derailed. The wind fell out of my sails. My balloon was deflated. I just needed a minute. Now… as I write this, I cannot remember why I got so angry and so defeated over the three year old’s accident and why I let it derail our school day… but I did and it did. And at that time, it was a very real and frustrating moment that warranted a reset.
Another moment, a couple of years before the waterfall incident, that warranted a reset happened when I was planning our homeschool year. We had just finished a year with a great co op of friends who worked together through My Father’s World, Exploring Countries and Cultures. The next package in the My Father’s World cycle was “Creation to the Greeks.” I’m sure it is lovely and amazing and full of wisdom and great learning opportunities. But at the time, I was looking through the box of curriculum I had JUST BOUGHT and all I could think was, “I can’t do this. My kids will hate this. I will hate this.” It wasn’t anything against the subject matter or the company. I still recommend My Father’s World as a wonderful curriculum. It was just something in the moment that hit me and demanded a reset from me.
Whether you have had moments of everyday life that have overwhelmed you or you have experienced buyer’s remorse over curriculum or have had children lose focus… you have likely experienced a moment in your homeschool where you just need to hit the reset button. You need to take a step back, get a change of scenery, take a week off, mix it up… something!
Here are five ways to help you hit the reset and get back on track with homeschooling.
1. Go Outside! Seriously. Leave the books and worksheets and computers behind and go outside. Take your kids into nature and breathe it in. We are incredibly blessed to live in the mountains of Western North Carolina where nature abounds. Nature is needed. Did you know that just a twenty minute nature experience is enough to significantly reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone… it works with parts of your body to control your mood, motivation, and fear. You want your cortisol levels to be healthy… get outside! Don’t feel quite free enough to leave behind the books? Take a book outside and read to your children while they jump on the trampoline or lounge in hammocks.
2. Do A Unit Study. Take a break from your normal routine. Ask your kids what they want to learn about and dive in. Unit studies are great because they cross the various subjects. You can learn about the life of C.S. Lewis and also learn about World War 2, writing an epic tale, life in England, etc. You could read about the American Girl, Kaya and learn all about Native Americans, horses, communal living, etc.
3. Go on a field trip... virtual or in person. Get a change of scenery and still do some learning. What do you have locally available to visit? Can you call a local bakery or pizza place and see if you can get a behind the scenes tour? Maybe invite some friends to come along? Visit an apple orchard or local nursery. See if they could teach a class on building a terrarium? Check out some of the many, many virtual field trips offered online to museums, aquariums, etc.
4. School somewhere else for the day. Do you have a local coffee shop that you enjoy? Treat the kids to a warm drink or a snack (a treat yourself). Set up your books and do some work there. You could do school at the park or your library?
5. Scale back on your subjects. Bring it back to the basics. What is important to you? I like to make sure at least reading and math are done every day. Some days… that’s all that gets done… and that’s ok. One reason you may need a reset is because you are doing too much and your child (and maybe you) is overwhelmed. It is ok to scale it back… even in the upper grades.
I promise you are not the only one feeling overwhelmed. We have all been there. And as far as curriculum burn out or buyer’s remorse… you’re not alone with that one either. I don’t recommend constantly changing your approach. That can get frustrating and produce a lack of commitment or seeing things through-ness. But there are legitimate times and reasons that a curriculum is just not working. Maybe you discover it doesn’t mesh with your teaching style or your child’s learning style the way you had hoped. It is totally ok to say something isn’t working and let it go. Eager homeschool moms are always looking on eBay and buy/sell/trade groups to buy used curriculum. Sell it and move on!
What about you? How do you hit the reset button in your homeschool when you feel you’ve gone off the rails? Comment below and let us know!