Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spring Fever

Spring is a lovely time of year. I think it should be as special as Christmas.

When we homeschooled, this was not my experience. Instead, it was the most stressful time of year. Our sons both played soccer and baseball. In Pennsylvania, we had portfolios to finish, interviews for our annual evaluation, objectives for the following year, curriculum shopping for the fall, achievement tests to take. All of this additional activity came at a time of the year when I was tired and unmotivated. I just wanted to be finished with our schoolwork. I wanted to glide into summer. I wanted to sleep and daydream. Instead, I was supposed to crank it up a notch and get an amazing amount of work done in a short time, amidst multiple distractions.

Over time, I learned how to make it easier. We rearranged our school calendar. We started earlier, at the beginning of August, so that we only needed "half days" in May and June. We began having our achievement tests in the fall. This worked well, since the fall tests are essentially the same as those given the preceeding spring, and it gave us a focus in our fall review, an event to aim for. I began doing the portfolios in segments throughout the year, so that I didn't have all of it due in the spring. Special subjects and less challenging material could be set aside for the end of the year.

All of this helped us. But it didn't cure the problem.

We were still tired and tired of school. We were distracted and had difficulty concentrating on subjects which had seemed intriguing in the gray winter months, but now with the lovely green outside felt old and dull. It was hard to push for the last lap of the year. Tempers grew short and spirits sagged. Eyes drifted to the windows. The household clutter piled up because there was little time for cleaning. I started sighing a lot.

My whole life could feel like a sigh in the spring.

Slowly, as the years passed, we became more skilled at coping with this lovely, challenging season. We learned a lot of techniques for recharging and pushing through projects for which our enthusiasm had flagged. I hope to share some of those with you over the next two weeks.

Of course, everyone's experience is different. Some families have no trouble at all in the spring. Many homeschoolers do not participate in community sports clubs. Families in other states will not be troubled at all by portfolios or annual testing. Even so, it's probably common to have trouble pushing through productively to the end of the year -- if that's the goal.

Know that if your experience is similar to mine, and everyone else around you seems annoyingly happy and upbeat, you are not odd and you are not alone. Spring can be like an obstacle course for the homeschooling mom, and it can come at a time when her personal resources are running low.

The first thing that helped me was just to realize this. There wasn't really anything wrong with me. There wasn't anything wrong with homeschooling. And there wasn't really anything wrong with our homeschool. We were all tired and there was more to manage than was quite possible. It was as simple as that.

So pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and relax for a few minutes. Take some deep breaths. This busy, final month will end soon, and you will stroll into summer -- long days, plenty of sunshine, lots of sleep for tired eyes. It's okay if things aren't working out quite like you had hoped. Just get to the end as best as you can, and try not to think about it too hard. A better perspective will return with some rest.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we suffer in similar fashion. I am finding that a positive look ahead to summer and anticipated delights (camping, kayaking, etc.) produces enough resolve in our children (9, 12 and 14) to keep pushing forward, even when they would rather not. We're trying to take "breaks" that count toward school, as well, and vary the academic routine a bit with field trips. Still, it all feels like we are supported by a single thread that could cut loose unexpectedly at any moment and the last few weeks could unravel beyond repair. haha


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