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Hang in There!

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May has snuck up on me and the academic year is quickly coming to an end. I am feeling a bit rushed and overwhelmed as I try to wrap up everything for school. I have a feeling I am not the only that is feeling like this. I wanted to encourage you today to hang in there. Finish strong and keep on the course you have made. You will feel good knowing you accomplished the goals you set.  Here are a few ideas to help.

Take one day at a time. You still time to finish school so don’t panic if you feel that you aren’t where you want to be.  what is it that you can do today? What things do you want your children to learn t-o-d-a-y?

Set manageable goals. What 3 things do you want your children to do in terms of learning? Think of it like this… Today we are going to 1) review the 3’s multiplication tables; 2) read a story and concentrate upon accuracy;  3) observe the clouds and write a poem about them.

Stick with it. I don’t know about you, but Spring Fever is a real thing in my life. I am antsy to get outside and do anything but school. I am sure your kids are right there with me! lol So, I try to think of the day and break it up into smaller segments.  Write lesson plans and then take a 10-minute outdoor break. Grade papers for an hour and then take a 5-minute break to get some fresh air, etc. I find that if I set smaller tasks in front of me with some reward of being outside for a bit of fresh air on these beautiful days I have a better outlook on things.

Take advantage of the weather. No matter where you live, we have great days to be outdoors. Why not do a nature study on plants and animals? Grab your phone, take pictures of cool things you find. You can show the pictures when you return and have your children write a story about what you saw and did.  Let the kids draw animals or plants they see and do some research on them for another day of school.

Soon it will be summer, so hang in there! Have a great week! ~Lisa~

 

 

Schooling During Busy Times

Screen Shot 2018-12-23 at 6.52.36 AMSometimes our schedules get so busy that school can feel rushed, leaving us feeling harried. So, how do we teach with joy and peace in the midst of the busyness?

Praying is what I have found to be the best way for me to get things in perspective. I can be anxious and fretting about things, but after I pray I realize that God cares about me and what I am going through. He has the answers and that quiets my mind and helps me to think more clearly.

Making a list of what needs to be done gives me a broad view of my day/ week and helps me prioritize. For instance, I may want to accomplish these activities in one day: do the laundry, teach school, go to the library, post office, and the grocery store, call my friend, tutor, make dinner, clean the kitchen, and get gas for the car.  The four things on my list that I must do and cannot put off for another day are teaching, tutoring, making dinner and cleaning up the kitchen. I can call my friend after lunch or when I am prepping dinner. I can do the laundry, get gas, and run errands tomorrow. I like lists because I can see what tasks are there and it gives me a sense of accomplishment when they are completed.

Writing out a schedule helps me to see if all of the things that I want to do can actually be accomplished. Don’t you find that your list of To Do’s is nearly always longer than how many hours are in the day? I am not saying you have to keep a schedule of time down to the minute but having a general idea of things helps. In my experience, I have come to realize that it takes longer to accomplish things than what I had alotted and so I try to add a margin of time if possible. It’s a bonus if I get things done and still have some “free” time. I feel like I won some kind of prize!

Getting help when you are feeling overwhelmed is beneficial to you and your family. Homeschooling can be draining and at times overwhelming. I have been there! January and February were the hardest months in our school year. Our anniversary is in late December and I can remember one year crying in the parking lot of Outback Steakhouse (on one of our few date nights). I was asking, nearly pleading with Dale if we could consider putting our sons in school. It was that kind of year, my friends! What a way to celebrate our anniversary, huh? We talked about what was making me feel that way and I came to the conclusion that I could use some extra help. I called a friend and she offered to keep the boys for an afternoon. This was such a generous and much-needed act of kindness that really helped me when I was at a low point. I would encourage you that if you are feeling this way, reach out and ask for some help. Is there a friend that you could trade one afternoon where she keeps the kids and the next week you do that for her? You might even feel ambitious and do a mini-lesson with the kids. Certain projects are better done with a group than just with our children. There may be a high schooler who would love to sit with your beginning reader or do an art project with them. You could pay them or make them a batch of cookies. That is money well spent!

Making time for yourself helps you and ultimately, your homeschooling. When I feel pulled in so many different directions I get grumpy. A couple of weeks ago I was stretched to the limit on time and commitments and, oh, was I was frazzled! My husband and I were pulling out of the driveway on our way to church and the garage door opener refused to close. I jumped out of the car, manually entered the code for the door, trudged back to the truck and plopped angrily into the seat.  “What’s wrong?” my husband inquired. “I am tired!” I retorted. “Do you want to stay home today?” he asked. “Yes!” I responded without hesitation. So, Dale opened up the garage door, parked the car in its spot and I went and took a two-hour nap! Boy, did I need that and everyone was much happier that I took that nap. 🙂 Find something that will recharge you, whether that is taking a nap; drinking a cup of coffee; calling a friend; taking a walk, or listening to some music, do it! That activity will help you and give you the energy needed to accomplish the other things you need to do.

Have a great and relaxing week! ~Lisa~

 

Half Full or Half Empty?

I have been called an eternal optimist. I gladly accept the label and hope to always see things in that light. So, how do you see things in a positive light when school is creeping along, attitudes of apathy are threatening to take over your homeschool, and the housework is piling up? How about a small break to refocus and rejuvenate? I have found it to do wonders for me.

Have a little “Me” time. During school each day, have a quiet time where everyone must have some time to themselves. Have quiet activities such as books to read, coloring pages, jigsaw puzzles, making cards, or a deck of playing cards for solitaire are just a few ideas. For little ones, you could have them play with manipulatives such as wooden blocks; threading items onto pipe cleaners, play with foam shapes and letters, or a water painting book. Establishing a quiet time helps children to be independent and occupy themselves, while also stimulating their imagination.

Learn to say “No”. I know I mention this from time to time, but having less to do will create less stress. It seems like I take on all kinds of commitments and then wonder why I am feeling overwhelmed. I have always been a “Yes” woman, thinking I can do it all. Well, I have realized that less is better because I can devote my time and energy to doing a couple of things with excellence instead of more things that are “almost excellent”.

Focus on the positive. There are so many wonderful things happening, so many things we can be thankful for each day. Look back at the beginning of the year and see the progress that your daughter/son has made in school. Has your son learned his colors? Your daughter learned to write in cursive? That is awesome!

Rejoice in the little things. Don’t be looking so far ahead with schoolwork to what you haven’t accomplished, but rather see the small steps you are taking each day to get there. I encourage you not to look at the end of the textbook and wonder how you are ever going to get there, but rather see the pages you are reading and studying today for school. It will get done, you will get there; I promise!

Do something fun! How about playing with your children? You could make or purchase playdough, build an obstacle course, have a sock fight, play Indoor Hide and Seek, build with Legos or Duplos, or bake something. Enjoying a leisurely activity together not only helps ease stress but also helps you to bond with your child(ren).

Have a great week! ~Lisa~

Overcoming Procrastination

I have a stack of tri-fold boards to grade and I am just stuck on getting them graded. It isn’t that I don’t want to do them, I am frozen in knowing that there are over 30 to grade this weekend and it is going to take hours.

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So, I just avoid the stack and think of a million more things I can do instead of grading them. Things like answering emails or writing a blog post… 🙂 Have you ever been stuck like I am right now? Here is what I am going to do to stop pushing off this task.

  1. Write down what I have to do. Grade boards, enter grades on the grade book website.
  2. Take the first step. Gather up supplies needed. (timer, grading rubrics, a pencil, a marking pen, computer)
  3. Set the timer for 60 minutes and begin grading the first board. This is the only way for me to stay focused on a task like this one that I know is going to take a long time. Other projects require different ways of tacking things. For instance, house cleaning. I clean all of the bathrooms and then I dust and vacuum, and then I sweep and wash the kitchen floor.
  4. Do the next thing. I will grade the next board and the next… Think of your task broken into smaller pieces. I am estimating that I can grade ____ number of boards in an hour. I have no idea how many that will be as some are easier to grade than others, but I do like to make sure I am aware of time so I don’t dawdle over one particular board since I have previously looked at them.

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This is my helper, Oreo, checking to see if I graded correctly.

5. After the timer goes off I will get up and move! Shake the legs, get a drink of water, put in a load of laundry, etc.

6. Get back to the task at hand! Set the timer for another hour and grade more boards. Enter the grades into the grade book. If you cannot devote hours at a time to a task, then break it into 10-15 minute segments of time. You will feel sooo much better once you have started on your task rather than avoiding it.

Things to consider:

  • Putting on some music to help you focus. ( I sometimes listen to instrumental music if a lot of brain power is not required.)
  • Rewarding yourself once the task is completed.
  • Sit back and look at what you have accomplished. If it was a monumental task, take a picture of what you did. No one needs to see the picture but yourself. 🙂 I sometimes do that as a reminder that I DID accomplish more than what I thought I could do to help me conquer the next task.

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After just an hour I only have 12 more boards to grade! Huzzah!

Guess what? I have more than 30 more boards from my other class to grade this week too! Looks like I will be applying this strategy all over again. 🙂

Have a great week of teaching! ~Lisa ~

 

Thankfulness

As I was talking to a friend this morning we were sharing about different people whose life circumstances are difficult. We concluded that we are truly blessed and what we think is a “Big Deal” really isn’t. I am choosing to be thankful. When I concentrate on all of the blessings and good things I have, how can I complain?

Write It Down I thought I should take some steps to see this happen as I am really not a journal writer, but I am a list person. I took 5 minutes to jot down major categories (God, family, friends, homeschooling, etc.) and then broke each of those into subcategories.

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Review the List I am going to date this and review it once a day (hopefully more often than that!) this week, dwelling on the good things that I have in my life. When I am tempted to grouse about something or am tempted not to be thankful, I will get my list out and read it again.

Share It I really think to share one thing you are thankful with someone encourages. It not only encourages you to continue to think about the good things that are happening, but it also encourages the other person with whom you are sharing. Good news is appreciated since we seem to hear so much of the bad news.

 

Thankful for you!  ~ Lisa ~