Pressing On

It’s January.  At this time of year I find my energy seems to wane.  But I don’t want our homeschool to suffer from the winter blahs!  Here are some tips which help to keep me going during the winter months:

  •  I start every week with a “must do” list.  I write out a sheet which tells me exactly what we need to read for the week, which activities we’ll do, and what I want to accomplish for the week.  I do my planning in advance, so this is just a “short list” to remind me of what we have lined up for the week.  I check each item off, one by one, as they are completed.  This helps me to stay on track for the week, and gives me a motivational boost as assignments are checked off the to-do list. I also jot down doctor appointments or other “interruptions” on this list, so I can be aware of anything we’ll need to compensate for.
  •   I have a to-do list for each day, as well.  My younger kids use charts which tell them exactly what they need to do each day.  Their motivation to complete their chart is contagious, and the accountability of having it all laid out for everyone to see means that nothing gets skipped.
  •  I have a chart, too, which tells me exactly who I need to be with and what each of my younger children should be doing at any given time of day.  I have “office hours” each day for my oldest, when I have time set aside to work one-on-one with him.  He is free to schedule the rest of his day in whatever order he wants, as long as he gets all his work done.  But for the younger children, I need a fairly rigid schedule to ensure that I get an equal amount of time with each one, and that no one is wasting time while I’m working with a sibling.
  • I reward my children for a good attitude and a job well done.  I’ll write more about our system soon, but for now, suffice it to say that there’s a pat on the back for getting ready on time, being cheerful about getting school work done, and for saying, “What’s next?”.
  •  I start early.  This winter we’ve been doing some of our reading at the breakfast table.  It feels great to have one thing done before we’ve even cleared the breakfast dishes!
  • We start on the right foot with devotions, immediately after breakfast. If we don’t, this most important part of the day will easily be squeezed out.  For us it works best to do fairly brief devotions twice a day (morning and evening).  Bottom line: we are more faithful to our morning devotions when they are scheduled to last about 20 minutes than if they last an hour.  A little, done faithfully, has produced more fruit than a lot, done unfaithfully.
  •  I divide the day.  We get all our “hard work” done in the morning….phonics/reading lessons, spelling, dictation, and math.  This is the meat of our day.  After a brief recess and lunch, we get to the “cake”:  history, science, and enrichment subjects.  These are the most enjoyable subjects for us, and it works well for us to save them as a reward for a productive morning.
  •  I add in a mid-morning “snack break”.  I’ve put an electric kettle in our schoolroom this winter and it has really raised everyone’s morale!  About 10 a.m. I make a cup of decaf coffee for myself and a cup of tea (or occasionally, hot chocolate!) for the boys.  Our basement schoolroom is a bit chilly at times, and we enjoy this pick-me-up.  I keep it very brief (no more than 10 minutes) so it doesn’t derail the whole morning!  If we’re eating a late lunch I’ll add fruit, crackers or a granola bar to the hot beverage.
  • I look ahead.  I add up how many days we need to complete to finish our school year, and set a target date for completion.  Unforeseen events (hospitalizations, out of town guests, and can’t-miss-opportunities) have to be factored in, as they may occur, but this gives me something to aim for.  I always take stock, every month, to make sure we are on track to finish our coursework by the end of the school year.
  • I incorporate some basic daily chores into the day.  Nothing saps my motivation faster than a messy house.  The childrens’ schedules include a few minutes after meals to unload the dishwasher, sweep, take out trash, and straighten up the public areas. I keep the laundry going in between subjects.
  • I limit time on the computer during school hours!  This is key for me.  I used to just “check mail” constantly and found that frequently, an email would need an “immediate response”.   My home-based business cannot be allowed to encroach on school, so I’ve had to set a schedule for my computer time.  I check email in the morning before school, during recess, and in the afternoon once school is finished.  I’m not perfect about this, and find it very tempting to check any time I am near the computer!!  Sometimes I yield to this temptation, but I find that I am far more productive–and motivated–when I focus on the task at hand and forget about checking email!

How do you stay motivated during the blah days of winter?  I’d love to read your comments! We can all use a little inspiration this month!

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing these great tips. I’ll be using several of them. I needed some inspiration for making it through this winter! 🙂

  2. busyboys says:

    This is really helpful! I too am a mom of 4, but they are younger. (I only homeschool the oldest right now.) I’m also a TOG user and always appreciate your posts. Thanks for the encouragement to press on!

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