I’ve written in a few blog posts (and blabbed in a few Persicope videos) that we’ve had a hard year. Like… a really hard year. I’ve recently done a LOT of thinking and figuring and planning, and I’ve come up with some practical solutions to salvaging a homeschool year that’s gone off the rails. When you’re in a position like this – facing down the last half of a school year and thinking “Holy cannoli, I gotta get this back under control” – it’s REALLY hard to figure out what do to first. Once you’re in this position, and you’re feeling overwhelmed and sad and (if you’re like me) probably a lot of mom-guilt also – it’s hard to see what your first steps should be. And it’s REALLY easy to think “oh well, this year’s a wash, let’s just drop everything and we’ll try again after summer”. Mamas, you do NOT have to do that. There are some simple, effective ways that you can rein in the year and end it on a positive note.
I recently received a great set of planning resources from Simply Charlotte Mason (which I discussed in my previous post), and was SO excited that I almost washed my hands of this year – until I sat down and looked at my calendar and saw how much year was actually left! We school year-round but we take a bit of a break in July, so that marks a pretty good stopping point between our school years for us. We’re usually ready to roll again by early August which is when we pick up our plans for the next year.
So looking at OUR natural stopping point, I saw that we have a good 12-15 weeks of school-able time left. That is a big chunk of time! It’s really not fair to my kids for me to just throw the year away. I may be tired and overwhelmed and feeling HORRIBLE guilt for any number of things that have happened this year – but this is their education, and they deserve for me to pick myself up and get this year under control. Once I made this commitment in my mind and in my heart, I sat down with my calendar and my notebook and came up with some really easy, manageable steps to get things moving in the right direction. I’m going to list MY steps and a brief explanation but if you check out this video from my Katch account (CLICK HERE), there will be a bit more explanation of each point.
SALVAGING A LESS THAN IDEAL HOMESCHOOL YEAR:
- Block out your time. So for this I looked at doing 12 weeks of lessons – I thought about how I wanted to pace the 12 weeks and decided on 3 weeks on, 1 week off. The whole idea here is to make sure I keep this MANAGEABLE and do-able, and smaller chunks of time mean less chance of me getting lost in the details and deciding to give up.
- Decide what you’ll do in your ‘off week’. Since I’m not always the best at making time in the day for art projects and crafting, I decided that in our off-week instead of us all just scattering to our own things for a whole week, I will still shape and guide the week and use it as a chance to work on the messy art projects and maybe some handicrafts.
- Next, I ranked my subjects in order of priority. What do you feel you want your kids to do each day? What can be done on a weekly basis? I decided that our Morning Basket routine was the most important, as well as Math and Copywork. At a minimum, these were what we NEED to do each day. All the other subjects, we can do on a weekly loop schedule.
- My next step was to literally just take a piece of paper and start writing out the resources and books we wanted to finish this school year with. Books, documentaries, read alouds, field trips, and even music! Just a big brainstorming messy piece of paper with all our resources on it. You can do what I did, and just sit in front of your homeschool bookshelves listing the things you want to use.
- Be realistic! Don’t overwhelm yourself OR your children. This plan is for those of us who are essentially in Crisis Management Mode. This is not the time to make grandiose plans or change the whole kit and caboodle. Look at your list of priorities, think about what the situation is that caused you going off the rails – and keep that in mind as you’re listing out what you want to complete this year.
- Take a look at your master list of resources, try to group them by subject. Here is when you will decide how much can you all do together as one group – doing your lessons as one group takes a LOT of the burden off of you as the teacher. For us, we use a Morning Basket which is a GREAT way for me to get both of my children in one place, we’re all together and we just read. It takes us anywhere from 30 mins to 2 hours depending on our level of engagement and how the day is going. This is also a PRIME opportunity to add those books and subjects that maybe you don’t get to all the time. Create a Loop Schedule for your Group Work/Morning Basket/whatever-you-choose-to-call it. NO crazy plans or schedules or elaborate Excel files. Just a list of the books, and you just loop through it. When you’re done, you stop – and then the next day you pick right up where you left off.
- Make a Daily List, and a Weekly List. You can create your Group/Morning Basket Loop list also at this point. Keep it SIMPLE. I can’t stress this enough – this is NOT a time to get too specific or rigid with your plans. Mine is LITERALLY written in my notebook, nothing fancy. Print these or write them neatly on a piece of lined paper – then put them where you can refer to them each day. You can just go to that daily list and say “hey we have x, y, and z to do today” and then get it done. Then you move to your weekly rotation and choose something. The next day you pick the next item in your weekly rotation. You don’t even NEED a weekly rotation – in times of crisis or trying to get back on the rails, you may just opt to keep it to the daily must-do’s and the rest can fall in as your child’s interests drive them.
Here is basically what we will follow for the next three weeks – I may type and print this and put it in a sheet protector or laminate it so we can just cross it off each day then wipe away and use it the next day. But In the interest of keeping it simple, we may just use this list right from my notebook:
So, that is essentially how I’ve done this. I’m feeling really good about the rest of this year, and I think ending this current year on a more positive note will allow us to start next year in a good space. I think I may have mentioned this point in each of my points above but – – – KEEP IT SIMPLE. Do not add stress to an already difficult year. Do the things that bring you joy in your days, be engaged with your children and just take a lot of deep breaths and take a step forward. You can do this. I believe in you, mama.
Let me know how YOU are doing – comment here, reach out to me on social media, and let’s take these steps together.