Change is In the Air


Winter, particularly once the novelty of a new year has worn off, often brings with it a dull ache of familiarity. The holidays have been and gone, and there’s a profound sense of settling back into a routine – and that, left alone, can begin to rob any homeschooling family of a sense of energy and engagement. Momentum and motivation can start to fade, and there’s a temptation to start shortening the day, plowing through the essentials with a sense of duty rather than purpose.

Our house is no different. The girls’ birthdays are in February, and we can both feel the emotional runup to their big day, and we both dread the vacuum that lies beyond it. This is our first year of full-time homeschooling, but we’ve already seen a few points in the year when it’s important to have some tricks in the bag to keep the kids pointed in the right direction. Here’s a few of our favorites.

Change the venue. Homeschooling doesn’t always have to be education at home; in fact, by definition, it’s really ‘education not confined to any particular place.’ One of our favorite new changeup days has been a combination remote-homeschooling/educational outing – swapwriting in the atrium at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (our view was the image above), followed by a planetarium show and some exhibit tours, or doing math on the go at a favorite park and then taking a walk to the library to find books on our social studies topic. Our philosophy is very tech-inclusive, so really anyplace we can get a clear wifi signal for a hotspot lets us get productive work done.

Change the medium. Everyone, regardless of age, wears out on the same content being served through the same format day after week after month after year. Listening to lectures, watching videos, working on paper, and using traditional tools gets old. That’s why we’re constantly on the hunt for interesting new things to vary the content medium – whether that’s giving a subject matter expert the floor in teaching a particular concept, or swapping out a straightforward iPad calculator for something like Tydiig, or changing up the projects they do in social studies. (Moviemaking? Cooking and baking? Outdoor games? Sure.)

Change the schedule. We all love schedules – they sort out the day, make sense of the week, and let us plan ahead. But there are days that science is going to be met with sleepy stares first thing in the morning, or math is just too much to ask by one in the afternoon. Change it around. Or split a subject over two days, or even three, if it’s not taking hold in the first go-round.  Twenty minutes of math three times in a day will do most of what a solid hour’s worth will do, and it might help you hurdle something unwelcome or thorny.  Nothing’s going to break – promise! – and you’re showing your kids that you’re willing to build the day around their energies and interests once in a while.

Change your expectations. No one makes linear progress in everything from day to day. Energy levels wax and wane throughout the day, throughout the month, throughout the year. Yours do, too, by the way – so make sure your kids aren’t picking up any lack of motivation on your part by doing everything you can to keep yourself motivated and engaged. More importantly, let the energy go where it’s going to go. Keep an eye on it – but realize that your expectations make up a significant portion of how you feel the homeschooling process is going.

In our experience, the most important factor in managing motivation and engagement is a willingness to gather data by the day and act by the week, instead of reacting to each hour as it goes by. Keep a log or journal of your thoughts on each day while you’re experiencing motivation concern; if days go by and you’re not seeing any improvement, pick one of the other changes discussed above and give it a try. If none of them help, perhaps it’s time for bigger changes. Spring road trip?

This Post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum February Blog Hop on “Staying Motivated Throughout the Homeschool Year.” Check out the other posts!

Feb 2014 Blog Hop Graphic

14 responses to this post.

  1. […] Change is in the Air ~ Chasing Hollyfeld Do I have to??? ~ Defying Gravity […]


  2. Great suggestions. Thanks for writing.


  3. “In our experience, the most important factor in managing motivation and engagement is a willingness to gather data by the day and act by the week, instead of reacting to each hour as it goes by.” <—Yes. This.


  4. Changing it up – the venue, the medium, the schedule, the expectation! That is probably THE best solution to lack of motivation while homeschooling! But, it is so terrific to have that option. Love your post!


  5. Adaptation isn’t just the key to a great education– it’s excellent role modeling too! The ability to adapt is a very important life skill that most people overlook. Thank you.


  6. I love the change of venue idea. It has inspired me to take the kids out today! We’re shaking it up.


  7. Changing the medium has been the #1 thing that has helped a lot of friends and myself. Sometimes change is as good as a rest!


  8. Love the strategies of changes of venue, medium and schedule! Change certainly keeps the learning fresh!


  9. Posted by cdfox1 on February 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Change can be good and creates variation and novelty.


  10. Posted by loveena on February 17, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Great tips and ” changing your expectations ” — I could not agree more 🙂


  11. You make some excellent points here. These are the very changes to which the grind of routine can make us blind.


  12. I love the idea of documenting your feelings and then looking at the pattern over more than just a few days or hours. Its amazing to me how big a failure can feel, but once you put it in context its just a day, or a few hours! Perspective is important – thank you for the reminder!


  13. […] Change is in the Air ~ Chasing Hollyfeld Loved the theme of making changes in order to maintain interest and motivation – changes of venue, medium and schedule to keep the learning fresh and vibrant […]


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