So. September 2020. Here we are. Should we laugh or cry? I’d prefer to laugh but with the year we’ve had, I don’t blame you a bit if you choose the crying option. However, life is moving on. The 2020-2021 school year is getting underway, no matter how it differs from what we may have envisioned. We are all being called on to show up and do our best under difficult circumstances.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you the one surefire way to have a great school year. Now I want to share three practical ways to survive homeschool stress and make progress toward your academic goals. Prioritization, flexibility, and a simple reminder will help you show this year who’s boss.
Homeschool Stress Tip #1: Prioritizing. Decide what you don’t get an “out” on.
There are so very many things we think we should be doing. So many things that would be great for one kid or another, or for our family, or for the community. Truth be told, there are too many great things and opportunities for any one person to implement in a school or home situation.
That means we HAVE to prioritize what’s most important. There have to be one or two things that get done every day or every week that cannot be touched. These become non-negotiable and are the focus of our routines or schedules.
Instead of, “We try to get math done every day,” it’s “We complete a math lesson every day (or work on math for an hour, or whatever your math bar is). No exceptions.”
Instead of “We do a family read aloud as often as we can,” it’s “We read aloud for 15 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. No exceptions.”
Instead of, “We get outside and do a nature walk a couple of times a month,” it’s “On Sunday I look at the weather and plan our weekly nature walk. No exceptions.”
This may sound harsh and inflexible, and in a way that’s the point. If it’s not flexible, it has to get done. Look, we’re human. We’ll take the exceptions anytime they’re available. That’s why we need to make a hard rule on the things that matter the most to us.
But that’s also why, in a house with kids and in an unpredictable time, you really should only have one, MAYBE two of these non-negotiables! Too many, and you set yourself up for failure. No one needs that ever, but especially not this year! But one or two priorities that must happen every day or week mean that everything else–the things you can negotiate on– will fall into place around those essential activities.
Homeschool Stress Tip #2. Flexibility. Make Your Schedule Work For (Not Against!) You
I know, I know. I just said to be inflexible. But with this idea, I’m thinking more about how we schedule things so we can work around the inevitable car repairs or appointments or illnesses or fits or gorgeous weather days that will come up.
There are so many ways you can embrace flexibility to keep your sanity. Blocks of time work really well for some teachers and students. Block, say, 90 minutes for History and English, or Spanish and Handwriting, or some other combination of subjects. You may find that some days one subject takes more of that block and other days, vice versa. The blocks help you work within those inevitable differences without feeling like you’ve lost control of your time.
You may also find peace in defining how much work is “enough.” Is it every Latin lesson being checked off? Or is it knowing your student has put in a solid hour of work on Latin vocabulary and grammar, even if all the exercises aren’t done? You’re the teacher, so you get to decide, but defining “enough” will help you find flexibility as you go through your days.
Homeschool Stress Tip #3: Remind Yourself that This Will Pass.
Look, even the best tricks and tips won’t change the hard realities of our current circumstances. Things are different, unpredictable, and downright strange right now. So with everything, and as often as you need to, take a deep breath and remind yourself: This will pass. THIS will pass. This WILL pass. This will PASS. Because it will. Things won’t always seem this hard. We won’t all be at our maximum emotional bandwidth forever. This will pass.
I’m excited to be a part of your teaching this school year. And I’d love to hear how you are handling school and stress during this season. What are the things you’ve added or let go of to maintain your sanity? Share them and maybe we’ll compile a list so we can all work together to make this year do-able. In the meantime, I believe in you and I appreciate you!
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