Greetings from the Winter Wonderland that is Long Island! (Some of you may understandably have more colorful descriptors for what's happening outside your window...) While we are back at our beloved brick and mortar hybrid and virtual schools, it's still a strong homebody culture here at the Pond House... especially with all the winter weather. It's not just the cold, it's the dampness of the cold here that I can't seem to get used to, even after living out here for almost a decade... Here's hoping for an early spring! (Essie understandably disagrees, as her dear father took advantage of the twenty inches of snow to make her an epic sledding slope ;-).
Regardless of whether or not you live on an island in the Northeast getting pummeled by a blizzard, it seems everyone on Planet Homeschool is talking about the winter burnout. I totally get it. If it is any consolation to those wanting a more confident posture about God calling them to do this, please know professional educators with decades of experience working with diverse student needs in institutional settings grapple with the exact same things. I think a lot of it is exacerbated by the weather, no longer marinating in the glow of the holidays. After months of hard work by all involved, there is a simple need to recharge, switch gears, turn things on their head, and think outside the box. It's okay to need these things. Kids do, too, by the way! So, without compromising your values and expectations, this may be the most important time to be a little kinder, gentler, and more patient with yourself and others and in doing so, encourage a time to rest, recharge, and reflect.
One of my favorite ways to reinvigorate the current school year is to plan for the year ahead. If this sounds a little odd, bear with me: with a cup of tea in hand, and no stress of having all the answers right away, I like to engage in a little of what I call "leisurely pre-crastination". (Pre-crastination has a bad rap, and understandably so, but I add "leisurely" to it because those are the only terms under which I will engage in pre-crastination).
What does that look like? In January and February, I pour over curricula catalogs, reflect on what is going well and what needs to change, pray, drink tea, and even draft some ideas for next year, plugging things into my pre-existing templates I created to meet our state's documentation requirements. I'll be doing a video series on "leisurely pre-crastination" at some point soon, because I think it is a valuable tool. Even though I am happy continuing with the curricula providers I have been using, I do tweak things a bit each next year.
As I do my next-year prep slowly, bit by bit, without pressure, I find it helps me remember why I picked what I picked for this year, maybe switch a few things up, add a few little supplemental materials for variety, and adjust my trajectory to accommodate for any choices I've made for next year's school plan. Since I'm excited about the new curricula I'm ordering, it helps me remain focused on how this year's targets can set us up for the next. I also work out how to allocate my budget for homeschooling supplies, (because it is really easy to get carried away).
Also, I don't want to leave this bit out: I shop my bookcase and supplies cabinet. Just like the minimalists who "shop their closet" to be grateful for what they have and build new creative wardrobe ideas, I find that when I shop my bookcase and supplies cabinet, I forget about things I purchased that got pushed to the back that might help us in our goals.
All of these things invigorate the current year, because as I get psyched about what has been picked out for next year, it influences my buy-in for this year.
I hope this is helpful to you, and that it might give you some new ideas for how to stay cozy and make the most out of this mid-year lull (be it weather-induced or not). Until next time, stay safe, especially those of you braving the storm in the Northeast!
Oh, the things you can laminate... A little touch of the farm from warmer days sits cheerfully in a windowsill.
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