You’ve had that day; we all have. Your kids aren’t feeling the homeschool thing today, and to be honest, you aren’t, either. The to-do list looks long, attitudes are poor, and you’re pretty sure that if you look over at your ten year-old again and he’s still drawing Minecraft castles in his spelling book, you’re going to lose your mind.
What’s a homeschool mom to do? Before you declare a Mental Health Day (which really may be completely warranted), try one of these tried and true tricks to salvage the day and get back on track...fast.
1. Take a Prayer Break
First things first: turn to the source of your strength and joy when you’re in critical need of strength and joy! While stepping away and praying privately might lift your mood and set your day back on track, being vulnerable and inviting your children into your time with the Lord will model the practice for them. Let them add their own needs to the prayer list, too.
More than once, I’ve called for prayer to help fight off the threat of a funk and had a child ask Jesus to help them deal with a frustration I didn’t even know was a problem.
2. Reach for Your Read-Aloud
Yes, it’s math time, but instead of beating your head against the wall of long division, maybe some couch time with Henry Huggins would be more productive. Diffusing the time bomb of a day headed for a slump is often as easy injecting a little levity. Not only will your children benefit from the step back, you will, too. Bonus: you’ll still be checking a box in your Instructor’s Guide, and maybe even getting ahead!
3. Give Your Day a Soundtrack
I have a specific Spotify playlist for when the storm clouds of a really foul day seem to be brewing. A mix of soothing hymns, peppy worship music, and rhythmic classics set the tone for smiles, better attitudes, and positive momentum. Choose a volume just loud enough to be heard or crank it up if need to be. Music really does soothe the savage beast— whether the beast is you or your 8 year-old.
4. Take a Virtual Field Trip
When you just can’t snag a child’s attention, or your audience is somehow less than appreciative, sometimes the key can be spicing things up with a virtual field trip.
- Reading about World History with HBL G? Grab a tablet, pull up Google Earth, and point it towards Athens, the Nile, or Martin Luther’s home in Wittenburg.
- Discovering early American History with HBL D? Google Arts & Culture has the equivalent of an entire museum waiting for you in their American Democracy section.
A little rabbit trail might be all it takes to draw your family back into the swing of a productive, educational day.
5. Serve a Snack
My younger crew like this, but the truth is, it’s my teenagers who appreciate it the most. When pre-calculus feels too heavy or you’re not sure you’re ever going to remember that chemistry formula, a plate of cookies is exactly the kind of magic that helps you smile rather than snarl. Little learners definitely get a kick out of snacks, too. Edible math manipulatives are a personal favorite of my elementary set. Try it for yourself and see.
6. Invite Stuffed Friends to the Table
When faced with a grouchy kid who has zero desire to learn about Marie Curie or radium, I’m not above motivation by stuffed animal.
- Let the furry friend sits on my lap to see the pictures first.
- Let children read aloud to an animal.
- Let the stuffed animal be the teacher for a half hour or so.
This silly shift is guaranteed to make younger kids find their happy place in homeschooling again.
7. Change the Scenery
Math always happens at the dining room table? Set up shop in the living room. You have a dedicated homeschool room that suddenly feels like a prison? Move to the back porch. The beauty of Sonlight is its ease of use in just about any setting you can imagine. Put that flexibility to work for you.
What if you’ve already exhausted every pick-me-up available? Perhaps a Mental Health Day really is in order. Step back and extend grace to your kids, and yourself. His mercies really are new every morning. Maybe that’s the real lesson to be learned from your bad day!