Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Burn-out Blasters

Years ago when I first started reading about homeschooling, I noticed a common theme in each book. Usually Chapter 8 or Chapter 9 would be titled something like, February Burn-out or Burn-out Blues. Although, I don't remember much about those chapters, I do know I am definitely aware of the doom lurking around the corners come this time of year. Why February? Maybe after all the excitement of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year we feel let down by the monotonous days that late January and February bring. Maybe it's the light factor; simply put, we are sick and tired of short days and looooong nights. Maybe the curriculum bought in August isn't working out as planned. Maybe we've been focusing on too much seat work and not enough real learning. Maybe the perfect lesson plans have been put on hold due to a husband's surgery or birth of a new baby. Whatever it is, there's no need to let those things get you down. This is one of the top five reasons why we homeschool; flexibility, allowing life to happen and to be a part of it.

Over the years, I have found that when I feel myself slipping into the February Burn-out, I make time for fun. I pull out the art project books and Family Fun magazines; we sit down and choose two projects to complete. One memorable day, we went "to the beach". We packed mini sandwiches, laid out a blanket for a boat, took along the magnetic fishing set, cut out a huge sun to decorate the room and "warm" us as well. The boat took us to an island where we rubbed on tanning lotion, had a picnic and a shorelunch with the fish we caught. Long after my interest in this outing waned, the kids continued to hid shells for each other to find and search the island for treasures. Did I mention we wore our swimsuits?

We ease up on the seatwork. We've been studying basic physics principles for the last couple of weeks, so as a treat I checked out Bill Nye, the Science Guy: Powerful Forces All Pumped Up. We had some popcorn and when the movie was over I heard from Lee, "Momentum is so cool!" and from Grace, "Bill Nye the science guy is awesome."

Cooking and baking is a hit with my family. For the beginner cookie baker, cake mix cookies are as easy as 1,2,3. Here's the recipe: 1 cake mix (any flavor), 1/3 cup oil, 2 eggs. Mix well. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with bottom of glass. Bake 6-8 minutes at 375 F. Frost, if desired. Before baking, sprinkle on a few colored sugars, if desired. Lou, my 5 year old has made these and according to her they are best with "three helpings of sprinkles" on each cookie.

Get outside, it's amazing how much time and energy it takes to get everyone in snow clothes, but the rewards are great. Fresh air has a way of lifting the spirit and tired children at nap time has an even better way of lifting the spirit. Recently, I was walking with Grace outside and she was in awe of the dry crystals of snow. Peering into the handful of snow she commented, "snow is so cool up close". We looked at the crystals and noticed how each "flake" has edges.

Most importantly, I believe the best way to fight the homeschooling blues is to take time to do something you love. I love to quilt, bake, play games, blog. Yes, the work of homeschooling, preparing dinners, writing bills, laundry will still be there, but with a refreshed spirit it's so much easier tackle.