How do you keep it fresh?

Let’s be real, worksheets get old really fast. You want to do your child justice. You want to make your time together fun– but you just feel like you’re in a rut. Well mama, you’re not alone. Many of us start off our homeschooling journey feeling a little overwhelmed and lost. We aren’t sure what is considered school and not school. There is just a feeling of uncertainty looming above our heads all day and all night.

Take a deep breath. First off, you’re doing an amazing job with whatever you are currently doing. I’m serious! Everyone has to start somewhere, and where you are is great! But sprinkling in a few things along the way can help spice up your days and make homeschooling much more personal and enjoyable.

Whether you withdrew your child from formal school or you’ve been homeschooling since the get-go, have you taken time to just be? Kerry McDonald in her book Unschooled, mentions needing time deschooling. This means that you spend time doing you. No need to mimic what formal schooling or other homeschools are doing. Heck, you made the choice to be different didn’t you? Spend some down time together. Grab a book and read together. Go on hikes or find a playground to explore. Being together is the first step. This will allow you to learn about your child even more than you thought you ever could. Take note of what they show interest in, what they seem to dislike and how they prefer to spend their time. These observations can come in handy later when planning out your days! Homeschooling is a wonderful blessing, but just like other blessings, it is sometimes disguised for a little while. Clear your minds, erase any expectations, and just be together.

Are you a person of habit? What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Stretch? Make coffee? Exercise? Each one of us has a rhythm to our day, and so should your homeschool. Will you wake up early to watch the sunrise together or does everyone sleep late? Do your kiddos work better in the mornings or in the afternoons? In our family, our rhythm is very basic, but it is the lifeblood of our day. We always have breakfast together and do our daily work at the table. We call this ‘Table Time’. Every day at Table Time, we start with Bible study. Then we move into math, and finally reading/phonics. Finally, we add in another topic that is rotated daily. Here is what we are currently doing weekly:

{Remnants of Table Time}
  • Mondays- Bible study introduction for the week
  • Tuesdays- Social Studies (we are currently reading through the Tuttle Twins books and discussing them together. We love these books and highly recommend them!
  • Wednesdays- We have Bible study outside the home early, so we usually have to skip Table Time.
  • Thursdays- Science (Our homeschool group meets every other week, so we use this day to learn the prerequisites for our group time.)
  • Fridays- Foreign language (We do a fun activity to practice our Spanish)

Rotating topics throughout the week was developed after two years of doing the same thing every.single.day. Everyone got bored with it and we found that we weren’t spending quality time at breakfast anymore just so we could avoid the monotony (whoops! One of the many mistakes I’ll make!)

After Table Time, we have to walk our pup. By now, he is ready to stretch his legs and so are my girls. This has worked great for our family because burning some of our energy helps us to be able to get through the rest of our day. Sometimes we might even stop Table Time half way through, go for a walk, and then come back to our work. My motto is ‘go outside if things are getting tense.’

Lunch is another time we come back together. We make and eat lunch together then do our chores. My children are currently in charge of emptying the dishwasher and putting away laundry. Then my oldest practices her piano while my youngest does a quiet activity. She is currently observing some herbs we planted together and recording her observations in her notebook. We have spent this time reading together, playing Lego together, watering the garden, and drawing. It’s a great chance for me to spend some 1:1 time with her.

How are your children’s moods at this point in the day? Could lunchtime be a time to ramp up your lessons? Could they do some self-guided learning, tinker with small pieces, or is it better to spend time relaxing together or even having some rest time? Maybe your kiddos do well with playtime after lunch. This is where your deschooling observations come in handy. You know your child best so you can cater to their needs when creating your daily rhythm.

After lunch and chores, we either lay down for naps (some of us just can’t make it through the day without one– am I right?) or we will read our read-aloud book together. It’s our time to decompress and it also happens to be the time of day when it is the hottest where we live. Win-win!

Whatever you choose to do with your day, do it with intention. Try a rhythm out for at least a couple of weeks and then make changes if necessary. Pay attention to your kiddos and how they are responding to the rhythm. It will be a challenge at first as some people don’t adjust well to change, but once you make it a habit, it will change your homeschool. You will feel you have a purpose and you’re not just drowning in monotony.

My final bit of advice to keep things fresh in your homeschool is to follow the interests of your children. This could be a new topic every day to a new obsession each year! There is power in allowing your child to learn about and explore topics that are interesting to them. Consider your child as the driver and you’re their pit crew. Stand along side them as they research, investigate, ask questions, make endless lists of supplies, plan, and get super excited. Go all in!

A few weeks ago, my daughter expressed an interest in getting a puppet. We encouraged her to make one prior to investing in one, so that’s exactly what she did. She spent time at the library finding books about puppet making. She found videos of professional and amateur puppet makers, and finally had a plan. We got the supplies and then spent two full days making puppets. It was so fun to watch her nerd out about puppet making and then be so proud of her finished product. And to prove that it was a valid learning activity, here are a few of the skills she practiced during those two days:

{Bug and her DIY Stitch puppet}
  • Choosing the right keywords for research
  • Checking multiple sources
  • Budgeting
  • Following directions
  • Persistence
  • Attention to detail
  • How to rip seams
  • How to stitch by hand
  • Measuring
  • Problem solving
  • Being flexible
  • Developing a character
  • Voice acting

Your kids aren’t doing all of that through the canned curriculum and workbooks you bought, are they?! And this was much more fun!

Don’t be dismayed. You’ve got this mama! You have everything it takes to learn alongside your child. There are no expectations of what your homeschool looks like. You don’t have to follow a bell schedule and your kiddo(s) is the only thing that matters! Take time to deschool so you can clear any expectations of what learning looks like. Create a rhythm for your day that you and your kids can enjoy. And finally, let your child lead for a bit. Follow their interests and do some deep-dive learning alongside them. Have fun. What you are doing is powerful work, but haven’t you heard? Moms are superheroes.