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Trouble Getting Going?

Back-to-school is here! Kind of hard to get in the mood, huh? If you are having a hard time jump-starting homeschool, maybe some of these ideas will help:

1) Wait for Pencil Weather

In my part of the country, it is 90 degrees during the daytime right now.  It is not exactly ideal study weather.  I have a friend who does not begin her homeschool until “Pencil Weather” arrives. You know—that crisp, crunchy leaves, bright blue sky, wear-a-sweater weather that makes you itch to get out a workbook and have at it.  Maybe it is a good idea to swim and bike and picnic and hike and canoe and garden and jump on the trampoline and dig in the dirt and build a playfort and lay on the grass and look at the clouds—while you have a chance.  There will be plenty of bad weather days to study, study, study!  Our bad weather days this past spring elongated into the early summer, in fact. So dont’ rush the good weather away or opt for staying inside while the sun shines so invitingly!

2) Don’t Go Cold Turkey

Cold turkey is difficult. How about easing into studying slowly?  Same way as you get into cold water.  Start with the oldest child and assign one chapter of a great adventure book, to be read by lunchtime each weekday. Discuss the chapter briefly at lunch, having your oldest tell the younger ones what happened in the story that day. Get on the internet and google search a chapter summary and thought questions so you can ask something intelligent.  Or better yet, read it yourself so you can discuss it with your student.  After a week of daily reading, it isn’t very hard to get the rest of the kids that can read to join in the daily chapter reading.  Or to add a page of math facts to their daily “to do’s”.  Take it little by little and  you’ll be up to speed with all the kids within a few weeks!

3) Mount an Advertising Campaign

If it didn’t work, big companies wouldn’t do it. Pick a wall or bulletin board area to post your ads on.  I use the inside of my front door because my children all end up looking at it several times a day.  The wall in the most-used bathroom works great too.

Start by posting a notice about something fun:  Zoo Field Trip coming up a week from Tuesday! After a day or two, take that down and stick up a few pictures of animals, and let the suspense build. (What’s Mom up to?) Now post a flyer with a list of animals asking each child to pick an animal to look up and learn about it.  Tell them their chance to report will be coming soon. Pile some library books or books you own about animals in a reading basket and put it in the middle of the living area.  Next ad: post a notice that everyone is supposed to draw a picture (or print off pictures) of their chosen animal.  Next day, it’s time to advertise the upcoming event:  “On Friday morning, we’ll be having our oral Animal Reports complete with pictures!”  If you have older children, ask them to write up their report also.  Once kids get in the mode of learning, they enjoy it and are much happier putting in the time.

4) Work on Relationships

Sometimes it is hard to get going on homeschooling because you have one child (or more)  that has a grudge and doesn’t cooperate.  The best way to dissolve those resistant feelings is to work on the relationship rather than the schoolwork.  Take that child with you alone to do an errand and buy him a treat.  Ask his opinion on how you should do something, or what would work to help the younger children.  Take the time to lay next to him at bedtime and just listen to him talk, focusing on learning about him rather than teaching him.  My favorite activity is to go swimming with that child.  Swimming provides lots of fun, confiding and talk without much effort. When the relationship is healthy and vibrant, children more eagerly cooperate with you and please you.

5) Get Yourself in Order

Another impediment is that we moms are scattered and unorganized in our own daily work.  Start with a simple Daily Do’s chart.  For myself, I limit it to about 5 basic things on it that I need to accomplish that day:  laundry, meal prep, breakfast dishes, etc.

Make it simple. Make it doable. And start making it happen.  Stick the chart up where your kids can see it and mark it every day.  You’ll fail some of the time.  But they see you trying everyday. Order is catching.

Once you’ve been at it for a week, and the kids see you are seriously working on it, it is time for them to make their Daily Do’s for School! Start with the most important subjects. Make it short, simple and doable. Make it possible for them to be finished by lunchtime. Resist the urge to put all subjects on it. You can always add a subject later when they are more accustomed to the “bridle”. Just take care not to overload, which can turn school from fun into drudgery.

For a 5 year old, their school chart might look like this:

Daily Do’s

  • Math
  • Phonics
  • Journal writing
  • Subject of the Day

I make a check-off chart  that is posted on the wall, that they can mark daily, and I can see at a glance. You can always do more in your homeschool, like present an art project, but having the basics on a chart makes sure that the minimum always gets done whether Mom is feeling creative or not.


Ready or not, most of the US is back in school.  Prayerfully decide your strategy for getting going, and I wish you a great school year!


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Mr. Popper’s Penquins

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