by Brooke, Director of Communication

If you have a unique learner, you know when they’re inspired, motivated, and intrigued in the learning process. Equally, you know what it’s like when they are overwhelmed.

Both of our children are highly creative, and I have to discern when to back off “the list” of assignments and when to make them keep going. Here are my 5 tips for when to call it quits for the day:

1 – When the math or literature or history assignment is so intriguing that they start to ask if they can look up related material. I want my kids to know that learning won’t always be fun, but when it is, enjoy the process. If my sixth grader is in the middle of a research project that causes him to learn more than the required elements of the assignment, I’m all for it. I let him “own” the rest of his day and decide what he can tack on to other days that week. (For example, can he add the remaining math to the beginning of tomorrow? Or would he rather take a test on what would typically be a day off?)

2 – When frustration gives birth to tears and meltdowns. It might be just for an hour while we regroup and read a book or watch a show. Or it could be that we are finished with that skill or subject for the entire day. A fellow homeschooling mom once told me to err on the side of relationship. So if it comes down to the assignment or a good relationship with my child, I (on my best days) choose the child – not the assignment being 100% complete.

3 – When it’s been a 10-day streak of bitter winter, and you suddenly get an uncommon spring-like day. I am all for a schedule, a routine, and everyday tasks that need to get done. But we all get starved for the outdoors during the long stretches of winter. So if it’s been a wet-weather week and my kids have too much energy on a suddenly sunny day, I make them go outside and play. We can always shuffle lessons around, but we can’t control the weather.

4 – When I’m sick or have a terrible headache. We all know the adage, “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and it’s true. Yes, you are your child’s teacher, and no, you can’t “call in sick” for the requisite 7 days a year like a regular classroom teacher. But when you aren’t feeling well or it hurts your own head to teach grammar, give yourself – and your kids – a break. Your kids can use an online library, learning websites, books, and games to learn in different ways until you are feeling better. 

5 – When they have worked hard all day and it’s getting late. Some days, school just takes longer. Maybe you spend extra time learning multiplication tables or reading that final chapter. Occasionally, when one of my children has worked very hard and they still have a subject or two to go by mid-afternoon, I will let them call it. We all know that after sitting in an all-day conference, our brains start to turn to mush. How much more, then, do our kids need a break from their schoolwork even if it means letting a subject slide. (That’s the beauty of Learnwell’s social studies and science sequence – you can do as little or as much as you like, depending on your time allotment that week.)