By Jennifer Waddle, Crosswalk.com
As the weather warms up and the kids get restless, it can be tempting for homeschool moms to fizzle out and end the semester early. However, there are ways to finish the school year strong by making a few small but impactful changes. Hang in there, homeschool moms. You got this!
Here are six tips to consider:
1. Shake Things Up
Have you thought about shaking things up by rearranging your homeschool schedule? Instead of hitting the textbooks at 8 a.m., why not start with a hands-on lesson such as cooking, crafting, or building?
Consider setting up stations in your house, yard, or garage where the kids can work on something new. Include a journaling exercise or worksheet to accompany it, and you've got a well-rounded lesson that's both engaging and informative.
Another idea is to incorporate subjects you don't usually include, such as P.E. (shooting a hundred free throws), cooking (following a new quick-bread recipe), or accounting (setting up office supplies at the kitchen table, including mock invoices, calculators, and ledgers). The options are endless for ways to shake things up in your homeschool routine.
Here are more creative ideas:
During my 13+ years of homeschooling, there were days when all of us felt cooped up and restless. During these times, we would take our studies to the library, the park, or even Mcdonald's! Though I didn't do this often, these outings helped us get out of our rut and complete the week's lessons.
Consider changing your homeschool environment one or two days out of the week. Even your backyard can be a nice change of scenery. Ask Grandma if she would be willing to open her house for the day or take a scenic drive while the kids read aloud. Get creative! Any place other than the kitchen table can feel exciting and help your family get out of a rut.
2. Team Up with Others
While it's tempting to do everything on your own, teaming up with others can help you finish the school year strong. It doesn't have to be a large co-op or fancy program. It can be as simple as teaming up with another homeschool family. You'll likely come away with new tips and ideas by teaming up with others. You can swap subjects that aren't your strong suit, and there will be a certain level of accountability to help you finish strong.
If you're really burned out, consider swapping school days with another homeschool mom. On Tuesdays, your kids can go to her house for school, and on Thursdays, her kids can come to your house. There are many ways to team up with others, so your homeschool year doesn't feel quite so isolating. Especially during the last few weeks, you might need the help, support, and camaraderie this option offers.
3. Include More Field Trips
If I'm honest, I didn't enjoy field trips with my kids. They felt like a big deal to me, and it took a lot of planning and mental preparation to follow through. But once I found a few local places that weren't too far away or expensive, my kids and I actually looked forward to implementing field trips into our routine.
Here are a few unique places to consider:
4. Local Markets and Festivals
Finishing the school year strong will be easier if your family has something to look forward to. Again, these field trips don't have to be all-day events but can be local sites that are low-cost or even free. Check your city's event schedule and plan your next outing!
5. Encourage Independent Learning
I love independent learning, probably because I've always been an independent learner myself. Though not all of your kids can work well on their own, you can encourage certain times of the day when everyone works on projects independently. The key is to remain close by to ensure the kids stay on task.
Here's a list of independent learning ideas:
-Arts/Crafts - Put your child's science, technology, engineering, and math skills to the test by allowing them to build, construct, and create projects that go along with their lessons. A box full of supplies and an afternoon to create will boost their independence!
-Videos/Online Lessons - Find videos compatible with your curriculum and allow your kids to watch independently. One of our favorite series was Liberty Kids, an animated series covering American History. Teachers Pay Teachers even has accompanying worksheets for this series.
-Reading/Journaling - Encourage your kids to read and journal independently. This is, in my opinion, foundational to successful homeschooling. You can incorporate even more reading/writing time as the school year winds down, and hopefully, it will carry over into summer break.
-Gifts/Strengths - Do you know what your child's natural gifts and strengths are? Foster a sense of independence in these areas by allowing plenty of time to cultivate them. Whether it be a love for animals (studying the life of a veterinarian) or a natural ability in mechanics (tinkering in the garage), incorporate independent activities to encourage their God-given talents.
6. Enlist a Prayer Team
Of all the tips for finishing the school year strong, this one should be at the top of the list.
Enlisting a small prayer team of people when you're having a tough week (or month) can make all the difference! While I know how vulnerable it feels to let people know you're struggling, this is one tip that can truly help!
Here's a suggested message to send to 3-4 trusted friends:
Hey friend, as you know, I'm a homeschooling mom, and some days are harder than others. I sure could use your prayers this week. Please pray for my patience, diligence, and energy as we wrap up the school year and meet our goals. Thank you so much!
To close this post, here is a specific prayer for you, homeschool mom. I hope it helps you finish your school year strong and motivates you for the days ahead.
Heavenly Father, please bless my sister in Christ with Your strength and peace. I pray that one of these tips has helped spark her imagination and given her permission to change her homeschool routine. I ask that You send the support she needs and surround her with like-minded people who are willing to pray. Please bless each of her children as they meet their year-end goals and thrive in their homeschool environment. Help them all to stay the course and finish the school year strong. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.
Jennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.