Written by Kristen, Contributing Writer
Note from Rachel: I'd like you to meet Kristen, a homeschooling mama to 4 lovely children and a new monthly contributor here. I know you will be blessed by her writing, she has a subtle and encouraging voice!
If you are a homeschool family, you may find yourself facing the end of the year with children who are so ready to be done with this whole school gig.
In fact, if you're much like me, you're probably ready for a break yourself! It's hard to stay focused when the great outdoors, parks, gardening, yard work, and sprinklers are calling out for attention, but ending the school year with quality work can teach our children how to really finish something they've started. If you're in the same boat that I'm in, maybe you need a little inspiration to help everyone make the end of the school year count. Perhaps trying some of these ideas will help you finish strong!
Take It Outside
When the weather is nice, I love trying to do as much of our school work outside as possible. Some things require a table and chairs, so if you don't have lawn furniture (and we don't), those assignments might need to be done inside.
We do a lot of reading in our homeschool, and reading outside allows all of us to enjoy a change of scenery, get our work done, and soak in the sun and fresh air. Many other school assignments can easily be done outside: music listening, art projects, nature and science projects, journaling and free writing, and more!
Use A Timer
I've found that setting a kitchen timer can be a real motivator for one of our children. Rather than seeing it as a threat, it gives him a very clear indicator of his progress and how much work I expect him to get done. Older students might do better with keeping their own schedule or watching the clock to gauge their work for the day. The main goal is to keep them from dawdling the day away while wishing they weren't doing school work. That scenario clearly helps no one!
Take More Outings
The end of the school year is the perfect time to get the children out of the house and take advantage of the many community resources available that promote learning.
Many of these may be free or low-cost, too! State and local nature parks are one of my very favorites, as is the local library. Is there a nearby farm that your family could visit and learn about business economics and the local ecosystems? Could a nearby nursing home use some singers for the afternoon? Does a charity in your area need some volunteers to weed and plant flowers? Almost any family activity can have learning incorporated, so don't be afraid to think outside of the box.
Use An Alternative School Schedule
I'll be honest. By the beginning of May, not only are the children struggling to get their work done, I'm struggling to stay on top of it! As a gardener, I want to be outside by this time of the year. Last year I decided to try a more year-round schedule by ending our school year earlier, starting later, and doing some work in the summer when it's too hot to be outside. I really liked it!
One of the great things about homeschooling is that it allows us to be flexible. If your children seem to completely fizzle out at a certain time of the year, consider taking a longer break then and picking up some work when public school children are off.
Mix Up Your Routine
While a reliable schedule is a great benefit to most children, I've noticed that ours start to get a little bored with the same routine every week. Finding some new learning games and activities, or breaking out some old favorites, may be just what your children need. Perhaps giving your young scholars a new activity book, a new reading volume, or even a new set of pencils or crayons will mix things up enough to spark some excitement and motivation in them. What about assigning them an interest-directed research project that incorporates many subjects into one large activity?
Let Them Move
You might find that your studious children have turned into little wiggle worms at this stage of the game. Maybe they are always wiggle worms! Rather than fight it, see if there's a way you can work with it. Let them sit on a small exercise ball instead of a chair to do their work. Maybe doing math flash cards on a mini trampoline will do the trick. What about jumping jacks while answering a lesson's review questions?
When All Is Said And Done, Celebrate!
Many public and private school settings encourage recognition ceremonies at the end of the year to congratulate students on their year's work. I think doing that for our homeschool students can be a real motivator, as well!
Your local co-op or support group may do an end-of-the-year ceremony, but even if they don't, you can still do something special in your home. We also like to give our children a special gift that promotes learning like a DVD set on animals or a new book series that we know they'd like. If the budget it tight, simple words, a special meal, and a homemade certificate can make for a special ending, too.
Who has more ideas to add? I'd love to hear them!
Linked to: Kids in the Word, Works for Me, Weekly Wrap-up, Mama's Moments, Hearts for Home Pin It