It’s the middle of the school year. Are you and your kids feeling uninspired and unmotivated? Check out these ways to beat the mid-year blahs.
What Is the Mid-Year Slump?
The middle of the school year (typically January, February, and even a little of March) is a tough time for everyone. Gone is the excitement of the start of school and freshly-sharpened pencils. Gone is the variety of the holidays and the promise of winter break. Now you are firmly set in the middle of the school year, and you and your kids feel like every day of homeschooling is a trudge through mud that sucks off your shoes. It’s exhausting.
You’re not alone.
Before you throw in the proverbial homeschooling towel, know that this mid-year slump is common to all homeschooling families. It is a phase, not a downward trend toward total misery. With some simple strategies, you can beat the mid-year slump and finish the year happy and thriving.
Beating the Mid-Year Slump in Your Homeschool
We all experience the mid-year slump to some extent. Sometimes it affects the kids. Sometimes it affects the teaching parent. Most of the time, it affects everyone (hey, you all live together–it’s natural). Try these solutions to the mid-year slump.
Change Up Your Curriculum
Yes, I know you spent hours researching the perfect math program or the writing program that would suit your child’s learning style. But if your child is hating a subject (crying or bitterly complaining), it’s time to do something new. You don’t have to toss your current curriculum in the trash; consider taking a hiatus. Spend a week on a unit study. Swap at-home science lessons for outdoor nature study. Take a break from book reports and buy journals that everyone loves (and buy one for yourself!). Start reading aloud together as a family. Add some variety to your curriculum.
Reset Your Routine
Chances are, you have come off the holidays overtired, overstimulated, and oversugared. That’s a brutal trifecta that will leave anyone in a slump. Reset to a proper sleep schedule. Gradually move to a healthy bedtime and waketime in 15-minute increments. Start the day with a healthy smoothie and ditch the Pop-Tarts (I know, I love them too). Take a midmorning walk together. Add stretching or yoga to your school routine. Cut back on electronics.
Let’s not sugarcoat this: it will be hard. No one likes change (especially when they are coming off the holiday trifecta), but it’s vital that you help your bodies recharge so you all can be at your best physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Find Ways to Refocus
I have been in the mid-year slump. I remember this thought turning in my head: “My kids are unhappy. I am unhappy. Why are we doing this?” I felt like the whole year was a failure because February was so miserable. You need to change that self-talk. Find ways to refocus. Have everyone in the family start a gratitude journal. Begin your days with circle time or devotions. End your day with family sharing. I have a friend whose family always shares “a rose and a thorn” at the end of each day. Each family member shares something good that happened (the rose) and something that was unpleasant for them (the thorn). By just mentioning one from each category, you recall to mind the good things from the day, and you help one another cope with the difficulties.
Consider also starting your day with intention before the kids join you. This morning quiet time can help frame the day and allow you to walk through it with more patience and mindfulness.
Add the Unexpected
I distinctly remember the worst slump of my homeschooling journey. It was, of course, February, and I was desperately googling school options so I could bail on homeschooling. I didn’t think I was in a mid-year slump. I thought I was a failure. My husband said to me, “I think we need to buy a blender.” I thought he was patronizing me, but he was in earnest. He knew a friend who had bought a fancy blender and the whole family loved it.
I told him our problems were bigger than a blender, but he insisted. Finally, I agreed to get the blender, if only to prove to him that this was a ridiculous idea that could in no way solve the problem.
He was right.
The blender was a lifesaver. Everyone in the family got so into it. We made up our own smoothie recipes, we blended soups, and we made sorbet. My kids wrote a recipe booklet of our favorites (completely unprompted), and a wave of excitement filled our home. It was just the shot in the arm we needed to get us to the end of the school year. It brought joy back to our day.
I promise you this is not an advertisement for a blender. You can add anything novel to your day. Just find something that you all are excited about: institute mid-afternoon tea and cookies, light different scented candles each day during writing assignments, watch nature documentaries, create the ultimate reading nook, or start your day with jokes. Add the unexpected to your homeschool day.
You can’t homeschool alone. You need support. You need friends who will tell you that they, too, have eaten chocolate in their closet on difficult days. This is especially important if you are in the mid-year slump. Consider homeschooling a subject with a friend’s family (or join them for a unit study or an art class), join a homeschooling support group, or sign up for more field trips where you can meet other people. Invite other families to lunch or to a playdate. Reach out and connect. It makes a huge difference.
How to Beat the Homeschooling Mid-Year Slump
The mid-year slump does not last forever (although it can feel like it). Soon enough, the end of the school year will come bursting with the promise of summer. It’s important to remember three things in the middle of the year: 1) This, too, will pass, 2) It’s completely normal to feel this way, and 3) You can make small changes that will have a huge effect on the outlook of everyone in your home.
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