It's the time of year for senioritis when everybody wants to be free and outside in the sunshine and not sitting and doing schoolwork. Moms get it. Kids get it. Not just high school!
The great thing about homeschooling is that you don't have to sit inside all day and just do work if you don't want to. You can carve out chunks of time each day to get outside. Take along your school books and some snacks. Reduce your school week to four days and go on a field trip that fifth day. And if you can't do that every week, do it every other week. Perhaps, plan to do a little schoolwork in the evening, so that you can enjoy the best part of the day outside.
And especially if you’re planning to end your school year soon, similar to an academic year calendar, it can be hard to stick to the daily grind! A couple of things besides enjoying the spring weather can help.
Find the Finish Line
Setting goals with deadlines is good for a person’s mental health! So it’s helpful to everyone in the family to know where the homeschool finish line is. Whether you choose a date on the calendar or identify what needs completed, I highly suggest you make a plan for this.
This is the time of year that I go through all of our lesson plans and books for the year and decide what really needs to get done to consider our year complete. A lot of times that does not mean finishing the book. Sometimes it does.
My mostly independent workers, sixth or seventh grade and older, get a list of everything they need to accomplish between now and being done. Our target end date is mid-June, because that's one child’s birthday. But my big kids can finish earlier sooner if they are diligent in their work. Seeing all they have left really motivates them.
I sit down with them and look at their list and help them decide how to get it all done. If they want to complete the entire vocabulary book in two days and spend an entire week finishing math (as long as they can handle the work), I’m fine with that. There is a huge feeling of accomplishment when you can put a book away, so I encourage they wrap up some of the easier things first. Doing this helps them to see the finish line.
Practically, I’m also teaching them time management. They see that if they do 7 things a day from now until our end date goal, they will get it all done. They can choose some days to do 12 things, and then they will get to finish early. Sometimes I will find them doing extra work evenings and weekends so they can get ahead and be done. This is another way I teach independence and responsibility to my tweens and teens, too!
But the lists also help me! For younger kids that I'm still schooling one on one, they will also get a list like this and they have to choose a certain number of things each day to get done in addition to our time together each day. The items on their lists are usually the workbook type things like handwriting, geography, etc. When everyone’s lists are done, they can move into summer school mode.
Plan the Fun
I do believe in giving us a summer break, and even though we take a shorter summer than most schools, my older kids really enjoy this time to pursue their own interests, and my younger kids and I enjoy the slower pace. Studies show that planning a vacation can make people more productive with whatever work they are doing. So even if we’re not traveling anywhere (which we usually don’t), knowing some of our summer plans gives us something to look forward to and some fun summer goals make everything seem easier and attitudes usually improve.
We start to sign up for all the summer reading programs and make lists of things we want to do in the summer even before we finish our school year. We plan trips to the ice cream store. We go shopping for swimsuits and goggles, if needed. I encourage my older kids to set goals for their summers, and plan some light schoolwork for my younger kids.
The older kids’ goals usually include deep cleaning their rooms and learning some new skill (driving, cooking, etc.), but they also choose things like writing stories and building machines! They share with me which friends they want to see and how often, and we try to make a reasonable plan for that, too. Fortunately, their chosen sports continue through the summer, but they usually do add some cross-training for extra exercise.
My elementary kids need some imposed structure, or we will all go nuts, so we will take some days as a break, but some days we still work on math and maybe a unit study based on their interests. We start talking early about what types of things they might want to learn over the summer. I might also choose one subject area (science, cough!) that we were not as diligent about during the school year and get more done. This is a great time to work on teaching new handicrafts (and chores!) they can continue without guidance throughout the school year, too!
And I never forget to plan a few things for Mom’s rejuvenation! I host at least one mom’s retreat during the summer and try to schedule a fun girls’ weekend with a friend, too. I create book lists for leisure reading and set some goals for my ministry work. My husband and I generally plan more frequent date nights (in or out) and some family fun days where we all are required to stay home and spend time together, eating our favorite foods and playing games and such!
It doesn’t really matter what we plan for the summer break, as long as we make a plan and start brainstorming early. Chatting about our hopes and dreams is especially fun! And so making a summer plan makes the end of the school year just a little (or a lot?) easier to tolerate!
So, if you’re dragging already and not looking forward to another month or two of homeschooling, change things up! Make a list of the schoolwork you think needs to get done (then maybe cross out ⅓-½ of what’s on that list?), consider modifying the kids’ daily work to accelerate their productivity, and start to talk about summer plans. It will lift everyone’s spirits and propel you through the end of the year!