It's midway through the first semester of the 2013-2014 school year and maybe you're feeling a bit of the inevitable drag that follows the initial excitement of a fresh start. Those smartly sharpened #2 pencils no longer have any erasers. The brilliantly organized bookshelves and supply drawers are a muddled mess. One student is struggling with math and has fallen behind. Another student read all the great stories in his literature program and now has the daunting task of completing the neglected comprehension assignments. The science experiments keep failing. And there aren't enough hours in the day to accommodate the growing to-do lists.
At BFB we know how you feel! And so we just want to take a moment to encourage you. When things start stacking up and it feels like you're going to doom your children to a lifetime of underachievement (don't worry, you're not!), sometimes the best thing you can do is take as step backwards. This may mean taking a day off from school and doing something with your children just for the fun of it. It may mean taking a break from Pinterest and the impossible standards it can set. It could be that you need a date with your spouse or a long chat with an encouraging friend. Whatever form it takes, it's worth taking a pause mid-semester. From experience we know that parents, teachers, and students can all start to feel overwhelmed at this point in the year. Pushing through without stopping to contemplate the good work that has been done, the obstacles overcome, the growth witnessed, can lead to drudgery and discouragement. So, take some time to look through your students's notebooks. Re-read some of their papers. Check out the progress in that math book. More than likely you'll be encouraged by the progress shown. And take time to affirm your children and students for their good work. Then go out for ice-cream or plan a scavenger hunt or spend a day doing nothing but enjoying one another's company. Homeschooling is an enormous task and it can often be messy and disorganized and chaotic. But, in the wise words of Jane Austen, "Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked." A shift in perspective can make all the difference for you and your children as you both expand your knowledge of the world and all the wonder it holds. Try to not lose sight of the fact that every lesson you are teaching is opening your childen's minds to the amazing and beautiful world we inhabit. Your work and investment in these young minds is a beautiful thing.
For those of you who love reading with your children, sometimes you just need to spend an afternoon cuddled up reading a great story. May we suggest the following:
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Johnny Tremain by Ester Forbes
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
The House of Sixty Fathers by Miendert DeJong
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Or any of the Caldecott Classics we outline in this article.