April 23, 2012

10 Days of Accidental Unschooling - Day 7: Grease and Sugar

New series coming soon... Looking forward to blogging it! #hsbloggers #homeschool

NOTE: This is Part 7 of a 10 day series on Accidental Unschooling that is taking me LONGER than 10 days to write (sorry). If you are OCD and want to start from the introduction or Part 1, hop to the bottom of this post and use the conveniently provided links!

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.  ~Mark Twain

When you buy a new computer, the manufacturer knows that eventually you will have trouble with it. It is kind of a given, really - that things will break down and be corrupted. There's a factory restore CD included in your purchase for times when the software and hardware fail. Most of life, including homeschooling, should come with the same factory disc. The best thing we have is our Bible, prayer, and the joy of FUN.

I'm pretty sure that when God rested on that 7th Day and told us to follow suit, he knew that we were going to need re-charging. We need the end-of-week rest, but sometimes just a day can bring enough hardship and toil to warrant a little R&R, too. When there are frowns and tears, it is best to close the books and seek paths to bring those smiles back. I read a really good post about this very topic at my friend Lisa Pennington's blog a while back - 20 Ways to "Reset" When the Kids are Having a Hard Day - and I shared with her a little secret about my own methods of resetting our days. Here's what I told her:

Today our 'reset' button was ice cream and fries at McDonald's. I know you are probably shaking your head... and the kids (especially the one that started the meltdown) didn't "deserve" sweets for acting out... but sometimes a kid needs to feel special and loved... and my kids love fast food grease and sweets. And it meant a lot to them that I "rewarded" them DESPITE their obvious shortcomings today. I actually had both my teens KISS MY HAND in thanks. :) I told them that today was just because mama loves them. And really - that's what it is all about sometimes... just loving each other even though we have faults. I know I'm not always getting A+ marks on my behavior card, either. Glad my Big Daddy in the sky lets me start each day with a clean slate.

You would be amazed at how often a reset button is needed. Even if it takes a week to get your groove back, it is worth it to find the joy and love on your kids. They are not going to learn anything if they are unhappy. Show them that they are important enough to you that you put them above the lesson plans and to-do list. You'll see a huge turn-around in attitude and willingness to work and cooperate if you do.

What does a re-set button have to do with Accidental Unschooling? Just this: when there's not any parent-led homeschooling happening, your days will be free for them to fill with child-led, delight-based learning. While you are feeding them full of grease and sugar, you can lay down a few ground rules about the free time you'll be experiencing minus those well-thought-out lesson plans. Tell them that you want them to still be learning, so Xbox, TV, and Computers are off limits - but that you are more than willing to allow them time to build on their interests. When they are "bored" or "free", it is easy to just plop down on the couch and zone out in front of a screen. Screen time is usually counter-productive to homeschooling (unless you are researching or using a computer based program for school).

To prevent the kids from wasting time, have them make a list - and I-Learning (Independent Learning) list. Have them fill it with all the ideas they have about projects they are wanting to do and never have time for, books they want to read, field trips they want to go on, etc. Let them crank up their creative gears and really spend some time on it. Have them keep it in an assignment binder that stays within reach daily so that they can continue to add to it. Remember those "Rainy Day" Activity Cans, full of ideas to do when you can't go out and play? This is just a glorified version of that idea!

Never met a kid besides Liz who was grumpy at McDonalds. #kids #frown #grumpy #angry #fastfood #sad #instadaily
My little nephew and niece at McDonald's. They are graduated from high school now!

What do you and your kids do to change the dreary days to happy ones? How you you piece the day together after a mommy or math meltdown? Give us your ideas so we can add them to our arsenal. Us homeschool mamas in the trenches need to share secrets so we can effectively battle against Homeschool Entropy.

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Tomorrow we're going to talk about field trips. They are as essential to our homeschooling as water to a fish.
One joy scatters a hundred griefs.  ~Chinese Proverb
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Below are links to the rest of the series so it's easier to navigate for those that surf in after the fact. There is also a handy button on my sidebar to bring you back to this series later, should you want to read at leisure.

Introduction to this series
Day 1: Not So Super
Day 2: Morphing Methods
Day 3: Out of the Box
Day 4: Learning From Life
Day 5: Grace is for Homeschoolers
Day 6: Taste and See
Day 7: Grease and Sugar
Day 8: Carschooling and Fieldtripping
Day 9: Reading to Succeed
Day 10

Be sure to join me each day. I'll be giving away a prize to a random winner in my comments section on these posts. Each comment counts as one entry. I love comments! Even if I don't have time to answer every comment or email, I cherish them and enjoy getting to know my fellow homeschooling moms.

This post is a part of the 10 Days of... Series at iHomeschoolNetwork. Check out the other amazing homeschool bloggers who are participating in the writing challenge by visiting the landing page there.

Thanks for joining me!

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Unknown said...

I sure do like the way you think, and write. You bless me each time I visit. Thank you!
My 19 year old son had charge of his 4 younger siblings last night. He hit the re-set button -- legos. He brought out drawers full and immediately a new and pleasant and fun atmosphere was created. And now he's their favorite brother!

Erin said...

Mummy Meltdown? - time for a walk, play in the park, a nature discovery adventure, just go outside and jump on the trampoline/push children on swings. It all changes your perspective.

recently found your blog and am LOVING reading your wisdom. Thank you for sharing.

Lisa M. (aka. Lisa @ Farm Fresh) said...

Our re-set button...RECESS! Sometimes I will tell him to drop it and go! He loves to play outside (when it's nice) or play with his vehicles inside. So when it's getting to emotional or we're having too many "I can't do this!" moments, we just stop and go play. And then we won't pick it up again until the next day...

Sometimes our reset button is for him to get a book and we switch to read-aloud time.

Sometimes the reset button is when mommy becomes the tickle monster...

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

My reset buttons are read-alouds, nature study, and baking or art (if it's early enough in the day). It's really why I try to have a Fun Friday that's just a bit out if our routine each week.

The Pennington Point said...

How fun to see how other people reset! What a great post...thanks for including me! Lisa~

Stephanie said...

On my reset day we just get in the car, turn on some music, roll the windows down, and go for a country road ride. We come home RESET!

~~Audrey O.~~ said...

Thanks to all of you for sharing this. My mind does not compute the reset button yet. To me it sounds like you said other would think "rewards for bad behavior". I do know that sometimes they just need to DO differently and a change of atmosphere, so that is what I need to think of I guess. That will be my next "list" to make I guess. :)

LucisMomma said...

I am enjoying your series. Thank you for laying it all out there, the good and the bad.

LucisMomma said...

I am enjoying your series. Thank you for laying it all out there, the good and the bad.

Turquoise Gates said...

For my 3rd and 1st grader, the "reset" usually involves doing school related games on my iPhone or the iPod. They also love unstructured time on the computer to do math, reading, spelling, etc. For my preschoolers, the "reset" almost always involves a cuddle with Mama. Sometimes, after a morning of saying "no" more times than I can count, physical reconnection and the visiting that always accompanies the cuddle work well to get little attitudes (and mama's too!) back on track.



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