It was Monday, I had a thousand things to do, and I can assure you my mind was anywhere but homeschooling. Just one day before, we had our first services for our church plant, came home from church to lots of weather reports about a quickly approaching storm, and found ourselves faced with a stressful decision: evacuate with limited funds or ride out the storm from home and pray for the best — the more economical option.
I tried to open our read aloud and carry on like normal that Monday, but there was nothing normal about it.
Have you been there? It’s not always church planting and hurricane evacuation, but there are lots of ways life puts homeschooling on the back burner. When it does, you’ve got to know when and how to bounce back after life interrupts your homeschool.
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Although I was able to pack and carry some of our homeschool resources when we evacuated due to Hurricane Florence, we didn’t exactly carry on with homeschool as usual.
In fact, we’re still not fully back to normal even though we returned home nearly a week ago. Our community and region has been devastated by the storm and, while our home experienced only minor exterior damage, there’s so much need around us.
And even without the weight bearing down on our city right now, it’s been easier said than done to pick up where we left off with homeschooling. That three week deviation from our homeschool plans made me quickly realize there’s a process involved when it comes to finding the way back to normal.
Bouncing Back After Life Interrupts Your Homeschool
I don’t have it all figured out, but here’s what I’m learning about bouncing back when life interrupts your homeschool plans.
Assess the Situation
It may not be easy, but if you’re going to bounce back from an interruption, you need a good grasp on where you left off. It may seem to require more time and focus than you really have, but it has to happen in order to know how to move forward in your homeschooling.
Assessing was a key step for me when we returned home from hurricane evacuation. Since we had limited space and time to gather what we needed most, I wasn’t able to keep my kids rolling in every area while we were away from home. That means some math, language arts, and read alouds were somewhat on track, while my plans for science, history, and the arts were three weeks behind.
Because of all that, it was a bit complicated to check our completed work, record it in our planners, and come up with a breathable plan for moving forward.
Complicated or not, it has to happen in order to bounce back when life interrupts your homeschool.
Count the Fruit
Along with assessing the situation, it’s important to count the fruit.
I use this terminology a good bit on Instagram and in the Encouragement for the Christian Homeschool Mom Facebook Group, but it may be new to you. Counting the fruit is all about celebrating what’s in front of you. When it comes to bouncing back when life interrupts your homeschool plans, counting that fruit goes a long way.
Here’s what that looked like during evacuation:
- Visit to the Greensboro History Museum – This trip emphasized Asian American culture and history, World War I, technology, and more.
- Interview with a CBS affiliate about our experience with evacuation – In addition to spending an afternoon with a reporter and cameraman for the initial interview, our story was picked up nationally after airing on the local station. My kids witnessed the planning, production, and distribution of media content.
- Visit to the Birmingham Museum of Art – We’ve been to this museum many times, but spent more time discussing and observing pieces that have become more familiar to us since our last visit. I particularly noticed this with Dutch and Flemish works from the early Renaissance years.
- Art and creativity via video chalk pastel lessons from You ARE An Artist and an art kit we found at a family member’s home.
- Several completed math and language arts lessons.
- Science experiments from a borrowed Magic School Bus Microscope Lab.
- A trip to a small town library – My kids loved visiting a new library, browsing the books, and finding a spot to curl up and read.All that’s to say that we definitely didn’t experience much that looked like a typical homeschool day, but that doesn’t mean we stopped learning. When you count the fruit, you realize just how much was accomplished. That’s why it’s an important part of bouncing back.
Make a Breathable Plan
Once you’ve got an idea of where you left off and what you’ve accomplished since the initial interruption, it’s time for a new plan. Although it may seem counterintuitive, don’t go crazy planning and trying to make up for lost time. Instead, take it slow and build in plenty of margin for your kids and yourself.
You may find that you need to simplify your homeschool plans and shift to a less is more approach. After all, a little bit of normal goes a long way when you’re coming from a time of stress or crisis.
Simplifying may mean putting some curriculum on the shelf for a while, shifting to independent learning options like online unit studies or online book clubs, or relying on some help from well-planned TV time to help teach specific concepts.
Regardless of how you decide to simplify, remember the primary goal is to make life easier in a time of transition. If it’s complicated or time-consuming for you, it’s not the answer you need in this season of homeschooling.
Give It Time
It takes time to assess the situation, order and organize needed resources, and make plans for bouncing back.
As important as those things are, you also need time to rest. Whether it’s an illness in the family, financial stress, a natural disaster, or something completely different, remember that you’re no good to your family if you’re mentally or physically exhausted.
Rest for a while, but when you do jump back into your homeschool routine, allow at least a couple of catch-up weeks. That provides the opportunity to ease back into homeschooling while reviewing or completing unfinished chapters and units without the added pressure of new material.
In closing, remember that it may be a while before life is back to normal. You may even find the old normal unattainable and that a new normal has to be established in order to move forward.
Either way, one day at a time is all that’s needed to truly bounce back when life interrupts your homeschool. You don’t have to have it all together before starting back and you don’t have to know all the answers immediately. Push through a little at a time, give yourself some grace, and count that fruit!