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Refocusing in the “New” Year

Moving into the months of January and February is often a more sluggish time in our homeschool. It’s easy to get bogged down in the more dreary days of winter and find our footing after Christmas break.

We recently had the most beautiful snow storm, on our first day back no less, that seemed the perfect start to re-booting the year. Everything was blanketed with a pristine white covering, hiding all the imperfections around. A clean slate, if you will.

As we ease back into our year, pulling all of our subjects/materials out, decluttering our homeschool life/room, and evaluating our progress so far this year, the fresh snow has given me reason to pause and consider how we can best move forward in the remainder of our school year.

DeCluttering Our Homeschool Life

Now that the house feels cleaner and emptier after boxing up all of the Christmas supplies, I’m also a bit more in the mood to start de-cluttering our schoolroom and remove anything in general that is just making our days just feel (for lack of a better word) – blah.

A few years ago I wrote a post, 10 Things to Eliminate from Your Homeschool, talking about some of the distractions we allow to creep into our year. It’s one I revisit to remind myself and then take a good, hard look to see if there are few changes that will help bring a fresh perspective and motivation to our day!

Evaluating our Homeschool Life

It’s also the time to infuse our day with some much-needed pick-me-ups and things we maybe pushed aside because we felt we didn’t have time or were otherwise too distracted to remember.

There are routines and rhythms that we’ve gotten into over the past few months that aren’t the most productive in getting things done. Part of that ties in with the kids getting older (and having a social life – yes, homeschoolers CAN be social!!), but also in ways we cut corners and let things slide.

The boys and I have been sitting down together to map out what they have remaining for the school year, coming up with a plan to make sure it all gets accomplished in the upcoming months, and talking about what areas we need to improve.

To give you a few examples:

Our current read-aloud: Greystone Secrets: The Strangers
  • Reading together. We’ve let read-alouds fall by the wayside the last few months. At times the boys complain (one a little more than the other). I do believe that reading aloud is important to do with kids, so we are pushing that to the front end of our days to make sure it gets done.
  • Mapping out lessons. Last year, Zachary didn’t complete his math for the school year and had to work on the remainder of the program this fall. That meant some major digging in. We mapped out the remaining lessons/tests and came up with a game plan so we don’t have a repeat this year.
  • Going back to our morning basket. We’re adding in a few extra things with Kaleb in the form of a “morning basket” if you will: a few things we do every day and then rotating through a few specific activities to make sure they are included. Reading poetry, reviewing sight words, reading aloud, etc…
  • Putting a rest time back into our days. Yes, our kids are 13 and older, but there’s still something to having a quiet time, even if it’s just for 20 or 30 minutes each day, that causes us to pause and recharge. And as a mom, I need that time too!
  • Setting limits. Beyond knowing when to say “no” in our social life, I’m also reflecting on how much time we allow other things, especially technology, to creep in. For me that can mean social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc) and for the kids – well, devices of all kinds. So we’re pausing, limiting times, and making sure we are interacting together.

Keeping it Simple

Overall I’m trying to keep it simple. Too many changes can make me feel overwhelmed right away, and then the likelihood of follow through is slim.

Personally, I’m making a simple daily checklist and keeping it in plain sight so I don’t overlook anything, but have a visual to keep me focused. I’ll admit I’m a list girl, so checking off those boxes is a help for me, but do what works for you: be accountable to a friend, another homeschool mom, even your kids!

Are you making any changes or tweaks in the new year? How do you stay focused and accountable?