Well it’s happened. That dreaded first bad homeschool day. We have been homeschooling preschool, both informally and formally, for eight months. As a new homeschooling mama I may have let my naivety allow me to believe that it wouldn’t happen. But today it did. And after everyone was put to bed I did a little reflecting (and possibly some soul searching). Instead of beating myself up or diving back into the day’s frustration, I came to the realization that a bad homeschool day can actually be a positive one. It’s just in disguise.
“We can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people.”
– Diane Flynn Keith
It all started when my youngest, Benny, woke the world at 3 a.m. A lack of sleep is never good for anyone, especially a 4.5 year old. It quickly went downhill from there. We had an “off day” according to Bean. She was not interested, frustrated, and I was questioning my ability to teach her at all.
What I realized though is that for each issue we were having, our bad homeschool day was actually really positive in a number of ways.
When They Are Not Interested
Positive: Lack of interest can show you that your child may have a different learning style then what your activity was geared towards. Maybe they are more of a visual learner. Maybe they love building things with their hands or perhaps they love art.
My preschooler draws and colors every day. In fact, she opted to not participate in a project and instead went to draw. Her lack of interest in one way we were doing things gave me a revelation. I’m going to start adding journaling with drawing on what we’ve learned as part of our school day. One failed approach opened the door to another that my light her up far more.
When They Get Frustrated
Frustration can easily snowball and when it’s in the air it’s like a bad cold that everyone catches. When I’m frustrated my preschooler can feel it and when she’s frustrated it is like the end of the world. We’re working on that.
Sometimes a picture isn’t drawn quite the way they want or something seems too hard. Frustration can derail a whole day. When that happens it doesn’t mean the whole day has been unproductive.
Positive: Frustration is an opportunity to identify what areas your preschooler may be struggling with. It opens up the doors for discussing feelings and how to deal with frustration in a constructive way. It can provide opportunities for expanding their vocabulary so they can better express why they’re frustrated. Frustration can also be their way of saying, “Hey, I need a break.” If that’s the case then maybe just open ended play for the day is what is needed.
Something Doesn’t Turn Out How You Plan
As a homeschool parent to a preschooler, we take a lot of time coming up with projects and fun activities. Maybe you’ve picked up supplemental materials and probably pinned your heart out. You probably spent some time envisioning how you wanted the week to go. I do all of these things but especially when it comes to young children, things just don’t always work out the way we plan. It is not a reflection of you or your ability to homeschool.
A bad homeschool day doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re not doing enough. It doesn’t even mean you’re doing too much. Since I’m new to homeschooling, my mind instantly went to all of those limiting thoughts. Instead, I think it’s important to remind ourselves that not every day is going to be perfect. Children have their own thoughts and feelings about the way their day is going. Sometimes they are cranky, over tired, under or overstimulated. Try to separate how the day goes from your personal feelings about your ability to teach them.
Positive: Not only does it give you an opportunity to identify those limiting thoughts you’re having and hopefully squash them, it tells you that you’re doing a great job because you care. You care that you’re doing your best and helping your child learn as best as you can. You’re awesome!
I tried to brainstorm some ways that we can turn a bad homeschool day around at our house. Hopefully some of these might work for you if you’ve had that moment.
Tips to Turn Around A Bad Homeschool Day
Don’t throw in the towel or give up on your day. Instead you can try to
Take a break
Talk about how your feeling
Practice something they love
Have a de structured day
Life skills – help with laundry, sweeping, or mopping with no worries of how well it gets done
Get some fresh air
Take the dog for a walk
Play a board game
Get some rest
Watch a movie together
Read a favorite book
Do you have any ideas for turning a bad homeschool day into a positive one? I’d love to hear your thoughts.