Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Surprising Solution to Stress

When our kids are adjusting to the school schedule again, it's hard on mom.

At times like these, I wanted less interaction with my kids. I wanted to put a buffer between us. I wanted to give them simple assignments they could complete independently and quickly. Then I wanted to send them to their rooms to play quietly.

But when the friction was caused by adjusting after a holiday, distance between us only slowed down the process.

My kids fell back into our routine faster if they had more interaction with me, not less. This was a mystery to me, until I realized that their sense of order was rooted in our relationship, not in habits or rules.

Still, we needed activities that demanded less of all of us while propelling us forward in learning and keeping us on a schedule.

How could we manage this?

We finally came up with a solution: games and other learning activities that required little preparation and were easy to do. This kept us on a schedule and let us review facts and skills, while minimizing situations that would frustrate everyone. Generally, we found that the best balance was to alternate writing or reading assignments with interactive activities for 1/2 to 3/4 of our a normal school day. Every 30-45 minutes, we switched to the next topic. The important thing was that we were learning or reviewing and interacting together, not that we were exactly on topic for their courses.

After a week, we began replacing some of the games and interactive activities with things that were more challenging and closer to being exactly on topic for the year's goals. It took an average of 3 weeks for us to master a schedule similar to the one we left behind before the holiday.

Activities included things like:

art projects
audio books
science projects and experiments
crafts related to history or literature
board games
card games
nature walks
bird watching
physical activities outdoors


What's a recent activity that your kids enjoyed doing with you?


  1. If we had discovered Settlers of Catan back when my kids were younger, I don't think we would ever have gotten school done! It's fun to see what the kids come up with, given a little free time and some tools/raw materials.


  2. Are you homeschooling Cassandra? That must be pretty exciting, daunting and interesting all at the same time.


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