Saturday, March 26, 2011

Feed a Cold; Starve a (Spring) Fever: Homeschool Survival

homeschooling, burnt out, time outs in homeschool
Or, Been there, done that:
Reflections on homeschooling in March.

Why are kids always so tired in April?  
The answer: Because they’ve just finished a long March!

The syndrome known as spring fever can actually occur anytime, of course, but it most reliably coincides with sunny spring days; the few hours before Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and semester breaks; the morning before an open house; and the afternoon after a field trip or a sleepover. It is difficulty to get back in to the groove. It effects all of is.  

Truth be told, it happens in graduate seminars and professional workshops, and other adult institutions too. We just don’t talk about it as much; don’t want to embarrass anyone.

You can feel it brewing, like that feeling you get when you are awaiting a huge storm moving towards you. Tension, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, straying to the window to gaze frequently into the distance, pacing, napping (?), preoccupation with outdoors, and rumblings from afar.

We’ve all been there and are, probably, there right now!

Spring is a wonderful time. It reminds us of the renewal of all things, the joy of being outdoors and the reality that winter (or any season of life) doesn’t last forever. Along with this surge of nature comes an equal eagerness on the part of young and old alike – the need to make changes, the need to switch gears, the need to cut loose or fly into the wind, and need to GET OUTDOORS!


Parents who homeschool now know what school teachers throughout the years have known for years. We are now debating the best tactics for dealing with spring fever. Should the shades be closed and children forced to bow their heads over their work? Should we toss the books aside and run for the park? Fortunately for homeschoolers, the transition to spring can be joyously easy with the best approach being found somewhere in between the two extremes.

Here are some hints to help your spring education be productive and enjoyable:

Remember:  your goal is learning, not being manacled to a schedule. Didn’t we all say, when we began homeschooling, that we were going to take GREAT DAY Vacations; the kids in school get Inclement Weather days. We can work straight through inclement weather and we can take “AMAZING SPRING WEATHER” days! There isn’t a single thing in your educational plan that can’t wait for the wonderful high pressure days, the return of deep blue skies of spring to pass. A nature hike or trip to the local outdoor gathering hole is one of the perks of being a homeschooler.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, 
but the lighting of a fire. 
Of such is wisdom.” 
 — W. B. Yeats

Spring time crafts, reading outdoors, nature hikes, wildflower collecting, bird watching (this one is extra fun with a bird guide), water testing, river walks, history field trips, zoos, garden shop, picnic, books and poetry about spring, walk or bike ride through a country town, clean the windows to let the sun stream in, visit a farm and watch the baby animals, go check out the forsythia and the crocus and the daffodils, celebrate the warm days, take a bouquet to a neighbor, lay on a comfy quilt and watch the clouds go by, fly a kite, bask in the sun, be outside on the great days because you know that snow can surprise you and your spring flowers!, learn about equinoxes, sidewalk chalk, hopscotch and jump rope with rhymes, a city scavenger hunt, photograph signs of spring, get bikes ready to ride, carwashing and vacuuming, research gardens by talking with local successful gardeners, walk and talk to everyone you see, look for local geocaching sites, make fairy houses, cruise around unfamiliar areas, go green, make flower bouquets from paper, learn about clouds, create a terrarium to bring the outdoors inside, learn about pollination, make personalized stepping stones for your garden or for a gift, and playing in the rain!

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, 
you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, 
but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
~Mark Twain

And, if you are still struggling with the spring fever blahs: Don’t neglect yourself. Eat right. Exercise. Take vitamins. Sleep well and for as long as your body needs. Develop some rituals and routines that enable you to present a fresh face and a clean smile to your children (and yourself) each morning. Read. Think. Learn. Take some time for yourself when and where you can get it. Celebrate your achievements in meaningful ways. Reflect. Maintain real relationships. Cut back on the virtual. Visit a museum. Roll down a grassy hill. Can you still do a cartwheel?   Revisit a beloved hobby or book or movie from your youth. Dance.
And take care of yourself.

Happy spring (fever).

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