Hello, all! I am pulling this article out of the archives and dusting it off because the past year-plus has been such a challenging season. In this post, I talk about why you should start your day with the easiest thing. It might sound too simple, or like a cheat, but often the very best ideas are the simplest ones. And your daily read-aloud is the most important part of your homeschool day. So, if you’re struggling with re-entry, give yourself some grace and start your day with the easiest thing. Your kids might surprise the heck out of you with what transpires when you close those book covers!
Re-entry can be difficult after the holidays, but this year is especially challenging.
Let’s face it- it can be really challenging to transition from the holidays back to a homeschool routine.
And this year? Yikes, you guys.
This homeschool year has been our most challenging one yet, and I know I’m not alone. To be honest, our family never even had an official first day of school. We didn’t have our traditional #notbacktoschool day, nor did we have a traditional start. I didn’t take photos of my children at the beginning of the year, marking their new grade levels, as I have in previous years.
And, if we’re being super-duper honest, we haven’t had a traditional year. Not even close.
Forget about the holidays, we didn’t find our groove this fall. Twenty-twenty was total and complete bananas and my husband and I were 100% focus on hearts over heads.
That meant we spent more hours out in the forest, walking and chatting than we did doing anything remotely academic. And when we were at home, we spent more hours chucking burritos at each other than doing math.
I felt like dancing a jig if we managed to read aloud and do a little math. The 2020 bar was ridiculously low.
On my best days, I knew that it was okay. I knew there was no magical classroom out there, in 2020 Times, in which all of the students were thriving.
No one had their best year ever. I think the whole world can agree that 202o was a doozy. But on my worst days? Oh, how I worried. And I worried about both hearts and heads.
Are we doing enough?
Will my kids fall behind in math?
We haven’t written anything in forever! I’m noticing so many spelling errors.
What will be the long-term ramifications of a year like this one?
Is there something more I could be doing to retain some normalcy?
Are they worried about things they aren’t sharing?
Here’s the thing- We are living through a collective trauma. That may sound overly dramatic, but this is what I truly believe. No one has had a good year. Every single person is struggling with something right now, and many people are struggling with multiple somethings.
Really, I think the best thing we all could have done was to take a sabbatical and focused entirely on the heart.
I know without a doubt that as difficult as this past year has been, we are all learning big, important lessons. The repercussions of the past year will only be truly visible in hindsight. But I am certain there will be silver linings mixed in with the mess.
But that doesn’t help with right now, does it?
So what do we do? How do we put one foot in front of the other and re-enter after the year we just had? How do we find our homeschool groove in 2021?
I believe that we should start with the easiest thing.
Why we are starting our day with the easiest thing right now, in 2021…
I am a reader. My first word was bookie, I kid you not. I’d follow any available adult around chanting, “Booooookie bookie bookie bookie!” with a book tucked under my arm.
Reading is my jam. I read multiple books at a time. I have an upstairs book and a downstairs book, a car book, a pool bag book… you get the idea.
It makes sense that our daily read-aloud comes easily to me, as a lifelong book addict. It’s the one area of our homeschool that I have never, not for a split second, worried about.
Reading aloud, for me, is the easiest thing. And I have started our day with the easiest thing for years. Partly because it’s easy and partly because, as a school psychologist with an education background, I know that reading aloud is the most important part of the homeschool day.
As we ease into 2021 and try to find our homeschool rhythm, I am relying heavily on the easiest thing. And it’s helping, at least a little bit. So I highly suggest starting your day with your easiest thing. Just try it for a week and see what happens!
And oh my word if you are looking for the perfect read-aloud, you must read Adventures with Waffles. Kara sent it to us for Christmas and every single time I read it, we end up cry-laughing. It is the perfect way to infuse some joy into your homeschool day.
Psst! It would go well with burrito-chucking. I’m just sayin’!
And now that I’ve shared my 2021 update with you, I want to share the original post. To explain why I’ve always thought you should start your day with the easiest thing!
Why You Should Start Your Day with the Easiest Thing
I am one of those super-annoying morning people. I wake up ON, ready to tackle all the things.
I can accomplish an incredible amount before my kids wake up for the day, and this helps our homeschool routine. I am able to plan, write, read, and exercise before those little feet come down the stairs.
Getting up before my children has made me a better homeschool mom. I am happier. Calmer. We get more stuff done when I wake before my littles.
But, last winter something changed.
It was cold and dark and gray… and this combination did not make me want to get up and accomplish all the things. If we’re being honest, what I really wanted to do was to pull up the covers and read in bed all day.
At first, I just slept in a little bit. An extra twenty minutes here or there. But then those stretches grew longer and longer and longer. Before I knew it, the kids were waking up before me. They forced me out of bed. They made my reluctant piggies hit the cold, hard floor.
Winter can be a challenging time for a homeschool mom.
Motivation always seems to dip in February, doesn’t it? Gray skies, cold temps, kids with cabin fever, and homeschool fatigue can be a dastardly combination.
How can you get back on track? How can you feel a sense of homeschool success when you can’t seem to find your motivation?
I’d like to share a strategy that revolutionized our homeschool routine and started a beloved tradition.
But before I dive into all of that, I want you to know something…
Maybe reading aloud is not your easiest thing. That’s okay!
If you’d like to create a read-aloud routine that honors your unique family, I have created a course titled How to Rock THE MOST IMPORTANT Part of Your Homeschool Day. I poured my book-lovin’ heart and soul into the course. I’ll help you craft a read-aloud routine that works for your unique kiddos, one that will fuel learning all day long.
You can read more about the course here:
How to start your day with the easiest thing
I want you to stop for a moment and think about what you are good at.
C’mon, mama. You can think of something. Everyone has a strength.
What is the one area of homeschool that you never have to worry about? What is that one area where you are always on track, confident?
Do you love science? Are you a math wiz? Love geography? Can you write incredible stories? Are you amazing at reading aloud? Do you have a theater background?
Whatever it is that you are good at, whatever it is that makes your heart sing, do that first.
Why you should start your day with the easiest thing…
I know it seems counterintuitive. When you feel behind on all the things, why start with the one area you aren’t worried about?
Hear me out…
Here’s what happens when you start with what you are good at:
- You cross something off the to-do list.
- The day begins on a positive note.
- By starting with what you are good at, you feel successful.
- When you feel good, your kids notice and this helps to build connection.
- Connection improves student motivation and cooperation.
- Confidence and success can spark motivation, even when that motivation is low.
So what did I do when my motivation tanked last winter?
Remember how I said winter makes me want to curl up with a good book? That’s because I rock at reading. I never feel like I’m behind in the reading department.
Last winter, when I was struggling, I started the day with math. I felt an urgency to catch up in math… and science… and history… and writing…
The result? Power struggles. And hurt feelings. And tears.
When I switched things up and started with the one thing we were really good at, things felt easier. I grabbed a cup of coffee and a stack of books and I read to my children while they ate breakfast.
Do you know what?
An amazing thing happened: We started our day happy. That alone was huge. It resulted in more cooperative kids. By starting off where we were ahead, we accomplished more during the day.
Did we accomplish all the things? No, we didn’t. But it’s a start!
Now, over a year later, I can honestly say that Coffee and Books is our favorite homeschool tradition. It was the result of a desperate season. It felt almost too easy. I felt like Coffee and Books was cheating.
It was only later, in retrospect, that I saw how much it transformed our homeschool day and sparked learning.
I challenge you to start your day with your easiest thing.
Try it for a week and see what happens! Sometimes, the very best ideas are the most simple ones!
Want to knock your daily read-aloud straight out of the park?
Don’t forget about the course I made just for you! I’d love to help you create a read-aloud routine that works for your unique kiddos, one that will fuel learning all day long.
You can read more about the course here:
Are you a book lover, too? Check this out:
- The Best Books for Homeschoolers | A MLP Resource Page
- How to Keep Kids Busy and Happy While You Read Aloud
- Rock Your Read Alouds with This Simple Trick
Not ready just yet? Join our 5-day email series…
Do you want to see our daily Coffee and Books in action?
If so, I’d love for you to hang out with me on Instagram, where I share snippets of our homeschool day in IG stories. It’s the easiest spot for me to share our daily read-alouds and the games we play.
And I invite you to join the MLP Family Book Club on Facebook. The MLP Family Book Club on Facebook is a community of book loving families. I always get ideas for filling my library tote there!