We wander down the path, the girls stopping to climb trees and me soaking up every ray of burnt amber light. This time of year, the day begins to wane while it’s still afternoon. And the sunshine? We didn’t get too much of it last month so we’re making the most of it when it comes.
Short days and long nights—the darkness sort of creeps down inside and makes it hard to remember to smile at times. Just last month, I spoke about joy in the journey and I meant every word. And I’m doing what I’ve always done during times like these—what has always worked. But these last couple of weeks? They’ve required a little more effort than usual.
We’re taking it slow this Christmas season—and the Lord only knows how much I need slow right now. There are some things that I’ve learned in the last few years of homeschooling.
It’s okay to put away the schedule sometimes.
Consistency is important but so is flexibility. And the truth is, the world won’t end because this week’s geography lesson consisted solely of reading a beautifully illustrated travel letter. Or because the child who is exactly a year ahead in math missed a lesson or two. Sometimes, you just need a little extra time to breathe.
It’s okay to read stories together.
One of the most beautiful things about living books is that, even on the not-so-easy days, they make it easy to get some learning in. Lately, we can’t get enough of Eva March Tappan’s In the Days of Queen Victoria. Our history lesson on Victorian England? Check.
And fairytales and picture books matter too. Reading for fun is just as important as reading to learn. It’s cozy, snuggling up on the couch and letting stories drift us away to other worlds. The kids learn firsthand what a wonderful tool language can be in the hands of a skilled wordsmith.
It’s okay to go outside.
Sometimes, you need to close the books, find some fresh air and breathe deep. Soak up those bits of sunshine.
Run, climb, play, laugh.
Explore this beautiful world. Call it nature study or call it phys ed class if you need to, but either way, just do it.
It’s okay to go on outings.
A field trip is more memorable than a lesson anyway. Any day. Go to a museum or a greenhouse or the library. But don’t take so many field trips that you burn out. There’s a balance.
Another thing. Heading to a coffee shop with a couple of workbooks or lessons? We’ve done that a few times, too, and it always helps rekindle interest.
And one more suggestion? Meeting up with friends is life-giving.
It’s okay to play games.
Board games reinforce so many valuable skills: social skills, math skills, reading skills…
…the art of losing gracefully…
There are games to reinforce just about any subject that you could teach. Even history and geography. The My Little Poppies Gameschool Community on Facebook is a great place to search for game recommendations.
It’s okay to ask for help.
Last month, we stayed at my parents’ house for a few days while my husband was away on a business trip. It was like going on vacation. We still did school work, but the exhausting little things—the cooking and the cleaning—were off my plate. And there were extra people to help with the children.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for or accepting help from others. Somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost the village mentality. But it truly does take a village to raise a child.
We need each other.
Winter can be hard and that’s the plain old truth of it. Incorporating good books, outings, games and outdoor time into your ongoing school routine is extremely valuable. But switching up your routine completely for a week or two can also be beneficial.
Are you struggling?
It’s okay to take a break. To take time to recharge.
To give yourself permission to breathe.