Staying motivated can be a bit of a problem for me. There are weeks where I think, hey, its Tuesday, can’t we just rest already? There’s times when it feels like the kids never stop talking or jumping, I struggle through schoolwork I thought the kids had learned long ago, and I just want to curl up with a good book while the kids zombify in front of the youtube videos of other people playing the computer games they like.
So how do I stay motivated? How do I keep going? Here are my 5 tips for staying motivated:
1) Treasure the ways they teach themselves. My six year old wanted to write a recipe today. Great. He talked about the ingredients, asked the spelling for the words he didn’t know and wrote his own recipe. Good. I’ll skip the writing practice I was planning to do and enjoy what he’s doing.
2) Keep learning yourself. Frankly, I love new textbooks. I love curriculum, books, and literature (and I think this is pretty common within homeschooling circles). But as fast as my children learn, they’re still slower than me on some topics and I can’t meet my love of learning just by teaching them. Sometimes I’ve tried to drag them into whatever topic I’m reading about, and if it feels like dragging, then its just an extra burden on my life. Instead I’ve learned to value my own learning, my own continuing education, and keep feeding that too.
3) Take breaks. I have to pace myself through the day. I have to pace myself through the week, and I have to pace myself through the year. Trying to fight against the tides of energy takes way too much more. Instead I swim with them. There are times we will do less and times we will do more.
4) Be flexible in curriculum. If the material gets to hard, take a break, look for new ways of explaining the material or practice the steps leading up to it. If the material is too easy, skip ahead. Don’t waste time and energy on what isn’t working. If the curriculum is expensive, acknowledge the sunk costs but move on – you can’t recuperate the costs by making daily life harder.
5) Take detours. Take time to learn about random things. Visit the library and pull out books on new topics. Do an unplanned unit study on a random topic.
6) Periodically write long-term goals and get excited about the future. I don’t schedule the schoolwork out much in advance. Sunday night I’ll write out the goals for that week, but I rarely look beyond the week because its hard for me to predict exactly how much we’ll get done. Yet every so often I like looking ahead, figuring out the bigger themes and breaking down the goals into week-sized packages. If there’s curriculum we’ve been working through slowly, I’ll look at how long it will take to finish it, making sure my goals are realistic and altering how much we do or how long I expect the curriculum to last so that I can recognize we are getting where we need to in the time we need.