What to Do When You Run Into “The Wall”
- Monday, June 09, 2008
Taken from the account of Balaam and his donkey:
"But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side . . . and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left." - Numbers 22:24-26
You are tooling along in school, the children are working hard, you’ve done your research and planning, everything is on schedule when you run smack dab into “The Wall.” You haven’t planned for this, it isn’t on the agenda, you don’t want to panic, but panic sounds like the only feasible option. You can’t get over it, you can’t go around it; your nose is pressed against this immovable blockage, “forward” isn’t there and “reverse” doesn’t work. What’s a mother to do?
We just keep plodding along, hoping this will end. We do the work, correct the papers, put in the hours, and punch the time-clock, as it were. The passion is not there, the actions barely are. We literally put one foot in front of the other and wait it out. We just push through and do. And eventually it does lift. Not instantly, but we find that one day we do bounce out of bed with a spring in our steps. The sun is shining, and those sweet little faces are excited about school, and so are we! Through perseverance, we shall conquer. And we usually do.
Or we try to muster up the emotions; just make it work. Do or die. Force the smile, and teach the lessons while repeating to yourself, “I am enjoying this, I do love teaching my children, I can get through this.” A dispirited way to be, a piteous way to feel. This is different from plodding, because we are trying not only to do, but to feel. To have the action and the attitude. Many times in life we can muster the emotions, we can make ourselves feel “up” about something, and the heart response is synonymous, if not simultaneous. But, it seems to take all our energy. As leaven in the bread, this attitude seems to permeate our whole being, our very existence. It contagiously breathes dismay into the children, meals, housecleaning, our dreams. It makes us question our reasons for homeschooling, whispering, “Why am I doing this anyway? It takes too much out of me. I really can’t keep on like this. If this is what it’s like, if this is all there is, what it’s all about, then I’ll just quit!”
BUT THERE IS HOPE!
In twelve years of homeschooling, I have tried all sorts of solutions. I have plodded along hoping my emotions would follow suit. One year I decided to plan for this wall, and get mildly creative with little effort. Let me share some tips with you, learned from many years of running into that same old wall, and from watching how others successfully handled this in their lives.
Try something new for a week or two, or a month. Remember that change is the spice of life, and sometimes a little change is all we need to bring us back to the land of the living.
Do school in a different room, or weather permitting, outside, even if you have to bundle up in quilts. Just the change in locale can add a spark to a marriage . . . I mean a school. Different scenery, the sun shining from a different angle, a bit of excitement, a newness. If needed, change locations every few days. Finding new places is not that difficult, and it’s worth the time spent thinking. It rejuvenates the soul, and stimulates the dulled senses. It sparks the imagination.
Granted, you might not get as much done as if you were in the schoolroom, or it may take longer. But, if it’s a choice between plodding and this pleasure, I think I’d go for the latter. If it does indeed revitalize, invigorate, put the bounce back, then it is worth every second invested.
Choose a different subject matter. Study something new. It’s like buying a new dress to cheer yourself: it is almost indulgent, but greatly appreciated by all. Just a little time spent on the planning, and you can kiss the doldrums goodbye. Try something you’ve never studied before:
History: ancient architecture, the origination of origami, legends of your area, Robin Hood, study women’s dress during different time periods.
Math: the Japanese abacus, Roman numerals, estimating the number of birds in a flock (count those in a small area – say 10%, then multiply that number by 10, and you should have a rough estimate), count flowers in a field, or trees in the yard, estimate the number of trees in a given lot using the bird-flock method.
Home Economics: cooking and freezing meals, baking pies, perfecting your spaghetti sauce recipe through scientific analysis (batch #1 was made with these spices, and #2 with different ones. Which do you prefer?), finding a new hairstyle for you and your female offspring (what do you think they do in the public school Home Ec classes?).
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