So, you’ve arrived at the halfway mark of another year only to find your homeschool low on motivation and joy, but full of frustration and attitude. Sounds like a homeschool reboot is in order.
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When I think of reboots, my trusty laptop instantly comes to mind. You see, the new wore off more than four years ago and we’ve been through a lot together. She — my Little E — gets the job done faithfully, but some days are easier than others.
There are days when Little E doesn’t want to work when I start her. There are days when she comes back with an Operating System Not Found message. Then there are times where she responds to my request with the blue screen of death. Little E has a mind of her own, that’s for sure.
Because of her uncooperative nature, she’s visited Geek Squad a couple of times. It turns out she’s not broken; there’s nothing wrong with her that a reboot can’t fix. While she may not start up and get to work immediately, that reboot is usually all I have to do in order to prod her along so that I can get to work.Your #homeschool isn't broken. It's in need of a mid-year reboot. #ihsnet
If you find it hard to get back in your homeschooling groove, don’t give up. Your homeschool isn’t broken. Like Little E, it’s probably in need of a reboot.
Pulling Off a Mid-Year
1. Embrace self-led learning
Get your kids involved in self-led learning while rebooting your homeschool.
There are lots of great options for this, but video art courses, coding programs, and animation software are the kinds of learning opportunities we turn to when we need to add self-led learning to our mix.
You could also let your kids choose an online unit study and work through it during the reboot time. Or, visit your library and challenge your kids to choose books about topics that interest them.
Regardless of what you choose, remember to not overdo it during this time. The goal here is to get your children excited about learning. If they’re excited about these new options, it will make your reboot process more productive and make it easier to determine your next steps.
2. Identify the issue
The Geek Squad employees told me there was no rhyme or reason to my laptop not booting correctly. In this case, understanding the problem isn’t required to reboot the system.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way for a mid-year homeschool reboot. It’s crucial to identify what’s not working before rebooting.
Does the problem stem from overscheduling? Are your kids overwhelmed by the coursework or not understanding specific concepts? Maybe the curriculum just isn’t working.
It’s possible that the root of your homeschool struggles are coming from you. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies, right? It could be that you don’t know how to proceed in your lesson planning or execute your plans. It might even be that you feel overwhelmed by homeschooling.
Whether these issues sound familiar or not, it’s important to pinpoint the trouble spots in your homeschool. Unlike my computer, there are multiple ways to reboot your homeschool. The trouble is that you won’t know how to address your problem if you never identify its root.
3. Talk to your kids
Once you identify your homeschool hangup, talk to your kids about it. Give them a chance to voice their concerns or frustrations before sharing your thoughts with them. That’s where you’ll find truth. (If I even hint at my thoughts on a subject, it tends to sway these kinds of discussions with my kids.)
Give your kids a safe place to discuss their thoughts, but guide the discussion back to a positive place by asking their favorite things about homeschooling. Ask them about their favorite subjects and curriculum choices. Ask them what they would like to do more of or experience differently than before.
By focusing on the positives and not the negatives alone, your homeschool reboot can take you from survival mode to a motivated and joyful home education environment.
4. Seek help
You can plan your reboot once you and your kids identify the problem areas in your homeschool. Depending on your specific issues, this part may involve a couple of weeks researching or could be developed within a few days.
When planning your reboot, it’s okay to seek help. Talk the other homeschoolers and ask for suggestions. This will give you a chance to brainstorm solutions with others who know you and your family personally.
If you don’t have other homeschool families in your life, take advantage of the resources available to you online. That may come in the form of Facebook communities or searching Pinterest for help with homeschool.
Naturally, I have to invite you to follow me on Pinterest here.
I pin new homeschool ideas there each day
and it would be wrong to not mention that. 😉
You can also find help for your homeschool reboot through books for homeschool parents. I’ve got book lists that I happily recommend to other homeschoolers, but two books I find particularly helpful in a reboot scenario are The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas and The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas Volume Two.
Both volumes have advice and ideas on more homeschool topics that you can imagine and both are the kinds of books you’ll turn to again and again in your seasons of homeschooling.
And, just so you know, I’ve contributed my best tips for homeschooling through the library and how to homeschool in small spaces in volume 2. So, if you need advice on those things specifically, you’ll find them in volume 2.
5. Make adjustments
Making adjustments is the last step in a mid-year homeschool reboot, but it can be the most difficult aspect of it. That’s primarily because there’s trial and error involved.
For example, if you learn that overscheduling — homeschool-related or not — is the source of your homeschool struggle, it may take time to weed away the extracurriculars and obligations that are running your family ragged.
If exhaustion is causing bad attitudes and lack of motivation, understand that new sleep patterns don’t develop instantly. Maybe your homeschool routine is the problem. You may get lucky and find success with your first tweak, but chances are it will take a few tries to get it right.
If you’re simply having a hard time getting back to normal after a long break, take your time returning to your routine.
Going from an extended vacation mindset to full force is pretty much guaranteed to be overwhelming for you and your kids. Instead, start with a couple of subjects for the first few days back and then gradually add more until you’re back to normal.
Rebooting due to curriculum
And, if it turns out curriculum is the source of your homeschool problems, don’t be afraid to say goodbye to it. Not even the best-rated and most popular curriculum choices are a good match for every student. It’s okay to try something and decide it’s a bad fit.
Most of us don’t have extra funds in the budget to purchase new curriculum mid-year, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with what you bought originally. Here are some tips for making curriculum changes halfway through your year:
- Consider skipping a chapter if possible. If most of the material worked well in the past, the entire curriculum may not be the problem. When a topic or chapter isn’t clicking for whatever reason, look for other ways to cover it with your child.
- Use your table of contents or teacher guide to know what topics were covered successfully and which ones remain incomplete.
- Fill in any gaps with library books, supplemental websites, educational TV shows, or topical resources from CurrClick.
- Look for free or inexpensive alternatives to get you through until your new school year begins.
In closing, remember that a mid-year homeschool reboot can be the best thing for you and your kids when homeschooling is hard.
Nothing good comes from avoiding the problems in our homeschools; addressing them sooner rather than later is the best thing for everyone involved. The best place to start is boldly push that button and reboot.