The middle of the homeschool year is often when families experience what is best described as the Mid-Year Blues. It is a time when interest and motivation for homeschooling wane. When the blues hit, the best thing to do is shake things up.
Over the years, the staff at Calvert School has collected a number of suggestions for how best to overcome the times when homeschoolers are experiencing a loss of focus. It is often during the long stretch between the holidays and summer, and it is a common occurrence among most students, at every age and in all academic settings. Even teachers, homeschool or otherwise, go through the blues.
Recognizing when it hits enables the Learning Guide to respond. Calvert School’s staff suggests one or more of the strategies below to kick-start their homeschooling year and to chase the mid-year blues away.
The easiest solutions to combating the mid-year blues are often the most overlooked.
- Have a “Backwards Day.” Eat meals backwards, starting with dessert first. Wear hats and clothing backwards. Enter the room backwards. Hold an indoor picnic on the dining room floor. Have your child teach part of the lesson and you answer their questions.
- Play the “Name Game.” Make name tags for everyone with different names and exchange them at various times of the day. Whatever name is on the tag, that’s the name someone should be called until the next switch.
- A “Silly Hat Day” also works well.
- Have a “Color Day,” where everything possible has to be in that color, including food and clothing.
- Play the “Word of the Day” game, where anyone using the specific word in a meaningful context during the day gets a small reward.
Mid-year blues might indicate the need for some tweaking of the homeschooling day. Determine if the daily schedule is working. Ask the children to discuss any concerns they might have about the daily schedule. Are adequate breaks planned? Do the children get enough physical exercise during the day? The answers to these questions and the resulting changes might just quickly send those blues away.
It might be time to join forces to make a few changes to the home. A family project not only will change the look, but also the feel of schooling at home. Create or organize the home library in a manner that suits its users better, or create the perfect homeschool area in the home. Or take on another home improvement or beautification project. Work together to plan, organize, buy materials, budget time and money, assign tasks, etc. Throughout this process, a variety of math skills will be tested. And when it is finished, everyone who took part can share in the satisfaction.
It might be time to get out of the house. Plan a field trip, or better yet, have the children plan it. Let them visit the library or perform an Internet search to find ideas for possible trips. Discuss with them a trip that will be interesting, educational, affordable, and close to home. Working as a team, two or more children can evaluate their proposals and pick a winner. They can even present the reasons for their selection.
The field trip can be used to reward the children for reaching some educational milestone. Track their progress and allocate time toward planning and preparing for the trip to keep interest high.
People tend to forget about all the cultural opportunities within their communities. Go to a matinee of a play or symphony. Take in a college concert or performance (most colleges and universities with fine arts programs require their students to hold one or more recitals and almost always these programs are free and entertaining). Keep an eye for high school or area church theatrical productions, which offer an affordable way to expose children to the theater.
Investigate what is on display at a local art gallery or museum. When contacted in advance, the curator or a docent often can work with the Learning Guide to offer a special tour or discussion that can tie into the children’s studies. Use the flexibility that homeschooling offers to visit during a slow time.
After participating in one of these activities, conduct a follow-up session with the children. Discuss the experience as a family, focusing on likes and dislikes, making sure to ask the children to explain why. Talk about areas where more study might be of interest. Consider inviting another homeschooling family to the next trip in the hopes that both the event and the after-event discussion might be livelier.
Take the time to learn a new skill. Have the family decide as a group to take up knitting, painting, needlepoint, pottery, yoga, martial arts, or something else that sounds like fun to learn.
Use the blues as an opportunity to better the community. Volunteer for a walk or community fund-raiser, or organize a community event (a play, talent show, soup kitchen, neighborhood clean-up, children’s art exhibit). Enlist local volunteer talent, charge admission, make and sell refreshments, and donate proceeds to a favorite local charity.
Visit a nursing home or hospital, where residents will welcome the attention and smiles. Have the children share what they are learning, or have them prepare a skit or play, a poem or composition, or a piece of art to share with their new friends.
At that heart of all of these efforts is an attempt to renew the fun and interest in homeschooling. As Virgil Hillyer, Calvert School’s first head master, said, “Get the child in a good humor and you can teach him anything.”
The holidays may be over, but there’s still plenty to celebrate.
January can be a bit of a let-down, kind of blah, weather turning ugly and cold. Take a minute to look through this list of things to celebrate in January, and it may spark some ideas for projects that will engage your child. Several authors have birthdays this month, including A. A.Milne (Winnie the Pooh), Jakob Grimm (Grimms’ Fairy Tales), and J. R. R. Tolkein (The Lord of the Rings). Here is a great opportunity to introduce your child to some classic and fun reading.
Month long observances:
- Blood Donor Month
- Braille Literacy Month
- Eye Care Month
- Hobby Month
- Hot Tea Month
- Oatmeal Month
- Mentoring Month
- Polka Month
- Soup Month
- Thank You Month
Events by day:
- J. R. R. Tolkein’s Birthday January 3
- Jakob Grimm’s Birthday January 4
- Earth’s Rotation Day January 8
- Static Electricity Day
- Amelia Earhart Day January 11
- Rubber Duckie Day January 13
- Kid Inventors’ January 17
- Thesaurus Day January 18
- A. A. Milne’s Birthday January 18
- National Penguin Day January 20
- Inauguration Day January 20 Swearing In January 21
- Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday (observed) January 21
- Handwriting Day January 23 (Remember Calvert Script)
- Kazoo Day January 25
- Puzzle Day January 29
- Backward Day January 31