Out of Breath? You’re Almost There!
By Mélanie Camirand
As I crane my neck to see what’s going on, there’s my son under the table, and he tells me he doesn’t really know how he got there. On top of that, I often catch him daydreaming: looking out the window, drawn by the fair weather. And, that’s not even counting all the times he gets lost going to the bathroom—trying to shorten his school time in any possible way. Does this sound familiar?
In the month of May, motivation has gone out the window. But let’s be honest, it’s the same for us. We are weary, like a marathon runner that hits a wall at the 30th kilometer when the race is almost over. We are already dreaming of summer, sun, and vacations. But like the runner, we can’t give up because we’ve almost made it to the finish line!
It is possible to avoid—or at least mitigate—this situation as the school years go by. First of all, it is good to know the most productive times of the year and to try to plan in sequence. In my experience, the most productive months of the year are in late summer to fall, from August to November. There is barely any hope for December because of the bustle of Christmas and the first snowfall that seizes our children’s attention. Then we find a little boost between January and February until we feel the much-deserved need to take a break in early March. As for the month of March and April, they are average; but, as the end of the year approaches, attention span and motivation tend to decline even more. I was told about this phenomenon in my early years of homeschooling, and it was very helpful. Knowing this makes it possible to plan right from the beginning of the year in order to concentrate on the more difficult subjects in the early months and to savour the more entertaining subjects towards the end.
But, what can we do if we have not planned in consequence or if we are behind? While striving for our best, it is important to let go of what was not achieved. This is vital to maintaining a good family environment. If we are tense or stressed by the timetable, our children will feel it, and it could very well be counter-productive. I suggest allowing your children to start each day with physical activity. Playing 30 minutes outside in the morning (and during breaks) gives my son a certain contentment and reduces the risk of him thinking of nothing else all day. This is not even taking into consideration that physical exercise and fresh air are good for his concentration. Also, to help promote a better attention span, I avoid giving him any sweet foods at breakfast and prioritize protein and good fats that nourish his brain. Also, even if the days are getting longer and the temptation to stay up late is great, adequate sleep is necessary for the proper functioning of the next day. Finally, if we want to maintain their focus, it is essential to take breaks and to rotate subjects often.
To conclude, it is important to remember that education is a long process that we must have confidence in. What could not be done today can be accomplished another day. In this great adventure, everything does not rest on our shoulders. Even in times that seem less productive, our children are still learning. It is fascinating to notice that our children learn far more than what we can teach them. As we continue our best efforts during this spell of feeling out of breath, above all let’s not forget to preserve the joy of learning in our homes!