Let’s face it – bad days will happen in your home school. It is far better to accept this as a reality and prepare for it in advance than to be surprised and caught off guard when the bad days appear. How do I know this? Experience – way too much! I am not talking significant tragedy here – just referring to the everyday things that happen in life. So, in case you hadn’t figured it out yet, life does not always proceed as planned. Because of that, let’s look at why we have bad days, and what rescue strategies we can use to salvage some educational value from the inevitable home school bad days.
What Constitutes an Inevitable Bad Day?
Sometimes you can tell it’s going to be a bad day when you first wake up in the morning. Other days, however, events creep up on you, the unexpected happens, and all your carefully thought out school plans for the day fly out the window. Here are some hints that you might be facing a bad day.
- Someone wakes up sick.
- Mom wakes up sick.
- Everyone is overtired and crabby.
- All the kids are undergoing major letdown after a big event the previous day.
- Breakfast burns.
- The power goes out.
- Or the plumbing backs up.
- A doctor’s appointment messes up the schedule.
- Unscheduled appointments happen sometimes.
- Your relative calls and wants to stop and see everyone today.
- Holiday stress gets the best of everyone.
A bad day can be Mom’s or Dad’s fault (or both), it can be blamed on one or more kids. Perhaps your bad day is no one’s fault – just a series of things that have gone wrong. It is not necessary to blame anyone for a bad day; it is just how life works sometimes. No matter how well we plan, how carefully we prepare, life doesn’t always work out the way we intend.
Your Reaction Matters
Whether your day starts wrong, or whether it just begins to slide downhill, how you react to the problems will determine how much of the day you can salvage. The issues you face on any given day are challenging, but not entirely impossible to overcome. But how you react may make a significant difference in whether the day is a total waste or whether you can accomplish a smaller set of goals.
Any day can challenge us with problems. Your reaction to those challenges will determine what you can salvage of the day!
Another thing to think about here – what will your reaction to problems teach your children? Will you get angry, blow up, have a meltdown, throw a tantrum? Or will you give a small sigh, force a smile onto your face, mentally adjust, and see how you can carry on through the day? Will you yell and throw blame, or will you silently pray for the necessary grace to keep you going?
Tell your children what the problem is (if you can and if it is appropriate). Then, explain how you plan to adapt and work around today’s situation. Your example in dealing with bad days and problems will teach them more than your words could ever explain.
Prevention Techniques for Avoiding Home School Bad Days
Sometimes life happens and there is nothing you can do to prevent problems that might cause a home school bad day. Other things, however, we can take preventive action to potential problems. So, what can you do, what actions can you take to prevent some of these bad days?
- Make sure everyone gets enough sleep. This should be obvious, but it is worth mentioning. Sleep deprivation never works in anyone’s favor!
- Plan your school activities around known events. Here is a real-life example: One of my husband’s sisters and her family were missionaries overseas for many years. When they were home on deputation they would frequently stop at our place for a couple days in between visits to churches. My kids and their cousins enjoyed their visits together, but the day after the cousins left was always a huge let-down day. All the excitement of time with cousins was over, and everyone was tired and uncooperative (including me). Trying to do a full day of schoolwork was just asking for trouble. So, when I was smart, I planned some other activities; reading time, educational video, games, etc.
- Adjust your expectations when you know there will be interruptions to your schedule. Doctor appointment scheduled? Expect that you won’t be able to complete all the school work for that day, and modify your plans. Maybe cover three subjects instead of five or six.
- Stay on top of home maintenance issues to try to avoid potential problems and disruptions.
- Keep your family healthy. Eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, emphasize activity and exercise, attempt to avoid exposure to illnesses. Do what is reasonable to maintain a healthy family.
Rescue Strategies for the Inevitable Home School Bad Days
When you see that the day is not going as planned, what can you do? What options do you have for making some good of a bad day?
Let me suggest several ideas for rescuing or salvaging what you can from a bad day.
- Pack up the textbooks and go to the park. Or on a hike or nature walk.
- Have a field day with games and races in the back yard.
- Move to a day of home-ec: baking, cooking, cleaning, life skills.
- Play educational games together. Dominos works on matching skills; Candyland involves counting and a bit of logic/strategy. Memory games help with memory (surprise!).
- Pull out the craft and art supplies and let your kids get creative. Then, teach some life skills about cleaning up when they are finished. (My rule for crafts – learned the hard way – no glitter! I decided long ago that glitter and Easter grass never belong inside! You will find them forever!!!)
- Read books. Send their minds to faraway times and places. Have them read on their own or read aloud to them.
- Give them some building challenges. Which one (or group) can build a bridge that holds the most weight? Who can make the tallest tower? Which structure is the most stable?
- Take a spur of the moment field trip. Visit a new park, go to a small local museum, check out a nature center, go to the library.
- Then, if all else fails, send everyone off to take a nap and then start over again.
While writing this, I remembered a poem I heard or read some time ago. It seemed appropriate, so I included it here.
by John Greenleaf Whittier
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
This poem is in the public domain.
So tell me, what have you done to rescue a bad day? What strategies have you used to salvage some educational benefit from a complicated day? I would love to hear your suggestions!
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