I recently shared a little bit about a “day in the life” of our homeschool — or at least the basic outline of what our days look like…on a good day. 🙂
But what about the “bad days”? Not all “bad days” are created equal. Sometimes I’m the one having a bad day. I often find that a quick prayer for extra grace, followed by a cup of coffee, puts me back on track. A fifteen minute catnap while the baby is sleeping and/or while all the kids watch an educational video or play a game on the iPad can also work wonders.
If one of the boys is having a bad day, it usually just means extra patience is needed for me, and for Miss M. I might have to delay working with Miss M while I deal with discipline issues or give one or more of the boys some extra TLC. Since Mr. E is only a Kindergartener, I can easily drop any academic expectations I have on a particular day if it seems more worthwhile to just snuggle up and read or let him play legos. We try not to let that be our pattern, and it is really the rare day I drop school all together for him.
The real sticky spot in our schedule comes on those not-so-good days for Miss M. Maybe she woke up on the wrong side of the bed, got distracted by what the younger siblings are doing, isn’t “in the mood” for school, is getting hungry (but forgets to stop for a snack) and/or is struggling with an assignment yet having a hard time communicating that fact in a polite way.
On a day like that, procrastination or s-l-o-w work is often an issue. In that case, perhaps only one or two things from her independent work list have been completed by the time the boys are ready for a break (or even finished with their work)! I’ve learned that with Miss M, exhortations to “hurry and finish up” generally make things worse, and as much as I think discipline and work ethic are important, trying to “make” her do her independent work is usually pretty counter productive relationally and otherwise.
Miss M strongly prefers to finish her whole list of independent work before we work together. But that has also led to days when I was essentially waiting for her while she dragged her feet on her list of assignments. After a particularly trying day recently that involved me doing a spelling lesson with Miss M in the very late afternoon (when we were really both too tired for it!), we came up with a compromise — by 11am I can ask her to start our work together if we haven’t started it already.
Most days, Miss M should be able to finish her independent work easily by this point or before. But if she chooses to dawdle or be distracted…we will work together at 11am anyway (give or take a few minutes…since strict time schedules rarely work that way!). Her independent work still must be finished later — even in the evening if needed. It’s amazing how fast that work can be completed when there is a motivation of potentially missing out on something fun!
Of course, procrastination is not the only character issue that rears its ugly head on the not-so-good days. We’ve had yelling, stomping and door slamming around here more frequently than I would like (and the student isn’t always the offending party!). I don’t feel like have all the answers to dealing with these issues. As much as I would like to just drop schoolwork some days and give Miss M the rest of the day off, that typically ends up making her more frustrated. She likes to finish what she starts, and she knows that if we don’t do some of the work now, that might mean more work later. As a third grader, work doesn’t just “disappear” — she is still going to need to learn those multiplication tables and be willing to humbly admit that she doesn’t know everything about perimeter and area yet, 😉
The best we’ve done so far is to stop and pray (sometimes it’s just me praying silently if Miss M isn’t ready to join me), and for me to give her some space to calm down and think things through. And to offer a snack. That often works wonders. 🙂
How do you deal with the “bad days” in your homeschool? I’d love to hear your insight and suggestions!