Literature: read and write poetry, introduce the children to a book by one of your favorite authors, read Shakespeare, find a new (to you) author and read aloud to your children, or enact a play.

METHODS 

Try a different method of study. If you live in textbooks and workbooks, stretch a little and try making something with your hands. Let it include math, if you want, but let it be something that touches the soul. If you’ve always wanted to make a quilt, then this is the chance. Let the children figure the calculations, or get one of those “Quilt in a Day” booklets, and let them cut out and sew the various pieces, but do let it be something that you work on together.

If unit studies are your method of choice, you’re convinced that the children learn best when the majority of their academics are based on one topic, give yourself a rest and try a workbook for a while. Take off the pressure to perform, and trust that you really aren’t harming your offspring. They just might learn something new while you take a rest from the constant planning. Remember this isn’t forever. It is fun for a change and you can use it as a plumb-line to measure their academic levels in certain areas.

Take a field trip Let it relate to your schooling or not. Prepare for it in gentle ways: just talk about it, read what’s on hand, ask others for their experiences and knowledge on the matter. Don’t make it a high-pressure research project; rather let the focus be on the experience. Let it just be FUN

Ideas could include the following: perhaps a local ski slope or fabric store, chocolate factory or agricultural nursery, orange groves or a local farm. Just having something to look forward to sparks our interest and brings life back to the weariness. It helps the children, too. Be creative, and try to plan something appealing to you, also. Remember, the children might not be in the same slump as you are, but your attitude makes or breaks the school, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” So, benefit the whole family by doing something that elevates mom’s spirits, too.

Co-oping, or teaching with one or more other families, sometimes brings life to the situation. Being held accountable for lesson plans spurs us into action. Working for other children, not just our own, adds a new dimension, zest, vitality. Grab your best friend and tell her it’s a matter of life and death that she give you one or two days a week to teach her children along with your own. Or plan it every morning for a brief time-span. Or take turns with teaching all the children, and give you and your friend alternating days off. Having a short distance to travel helps this arrangement, so pick someone who lives close by. Or choose someone who is new to your support group, and co-op with them. You might find a new friend, and you just might be the answer to their doldrums and prayers. In reaching out, we often find our own spirits revived.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Or begin a physical activity. Plan time to take a walk daily. Build it into the schedule. Make it part of the routine. Take the children along, or if they are old enough to watch themselves, or you have a willing neighbor or husband to watch, go alone. This is therapeutic, and it beats money spent on a therapist. If you do take your youngsters along, remember the goal is the walking, not getting back home. Just enjoy being outside.

Or begin an exercise program with the children. Put on some peppy music and teach the children how to do jumping jacks, leg lifts, sit-ups, pushups, forward rolls. Dig up those long-lost memories of PE in high school, and teach the skills to your children. Ride bikes, play tennis, run in place, or up and down the stairs. Make it a game: time how long it takes to go a certain distance, then beat the clock tomorrow. Make a timeslot to do this daily for three weeks (that’s how long it takes to form a new habit). Or teach the children how to play Tag Football, and use hankies hanging from their waistbands as the tag. During exercise, the body produces endorphins which elevate the mood. Create as much as you can.

As Balaam’s donkey knew not to go past the angel and the wall, we need to take heed of the walls in our lives. We probably won’t be struck dead as the angel threatened Balaam, but sometimes the living seems to lack the life. Take heed to your cycles. Don’t ignore them because they won’t go away. Plan for them. Let them be the catalyst bringing a spark of life to your whole family. Look for small ways to have fun, and budget your time to accommodate them. Ultimately, as Christians, we need to turn to the Lord when we encounter our walls. As Balaam listened, so must we. The answer I most often hear is, “Relax, slow down, spend time enjoying the children.” Change is the spice of life, and when the road gets weary, and the oatmeal old, spicy change can be just what the angel commands and the doctor ordered.

Mark & Kym Wright have homeschooled since the mid-80s. They have 8 children, having graduated 3. Kym pens the “Learn and Do” unit studies. She is also a speaker for homeschool groups and state conventions.
You can visit her websites at: www.KymWright.com and www.Learn-and-Do.com.

This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb ’05 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine.  For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com