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Today’s episode is all about preparing for those unexpected, challenging days. Having those not-so-perfect days is a normal part of homeschooling; we all have them. The question is how can we prepare for them? We’ll discuss practical, easy-to-implement strategies like engaging educational videos and creative strewing techniques to keep learning on track, even when the day doesn’t go as planned. 

Discover how to make the most of challenging days by turning them into opportunities for adaptable, stress-free learning. Join us as we share insights and tips to help you stay prepared and maintain a positive homeschool environment, no matter what the day brings.”

Listen to the Podcast

[00:00] Pam Barnhill: You feeling overwhelmed with homeschooling? Wondering how you can streamline your day and boost your family’s success? Welcome to ten minutes to a better homeschool. I’m Pam Barnhill, fellow homeschooler and your guide to quick, effective solutions. In each episode, we dive into practical, actionable tips that fit your busy life. Whether it’s curriculum choices, time management, or creative teaching methods. We’ve got you covered. And the best part? It’s all in bite size, ten minute segments, perfect for a busy parent schedule. So pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and join me in transforming your homeschool experience. One tip at a time. Let’s make every minute count. Hi everyone, and welcome to this episode of the ten minutes to a better homeschool podcast. So today we’re going to be talking all about why you need a bad day plan for your homeschool. I mean, have you ever tried to teach fractions with a screaming toddler hanging off your leg? If there is anything that is universal about homeschooling, it is that at some point we are all going to struggle from having a bad day. And since we like to be prepared for the possibilities that could come up, having a bad day plan in your back pocket is something you absolutely need to have now, chaos abounds everywhere, and there are all kinds of scenarios that can derail your homeschool day. Maybe it’s an illness. It could be your own illness. You might wake up one day just not feeling like homeschool. Maybe one of your children has an illness, whether that be a young child who’s not homeschooling yet, or one of the kids who’s actually in your home school. Unexpected events could come up, like the illness of a family member or somebody who just needs some help getting to a doctor’s appointment. Maybe some kind of repair that goes on in your house, something that’s needed washing machine breaks, or the dog escapes the backyard, or just every once in a while you might be having an off day. You might just not feel like functioning as a home school teacher that day. And you might even not be sick. You’re just having an off day. It happens to the best of us. Everyone experiences these things sometimes, and we just want to reassure you that it happens to all of us. You are not alone. This is going to happen to everyone at some point in their home school. I know. It’s happened to me more days than I could count. So why do we need a bad day plan for our home school? Well, the first thing we want to do is we want to help take some of the stress off of ourselves. I mean, if we’re having a bad day anyway, the last thing we want to do is compound our stress by worrying about the things that we’re supposed to be doing in our home school. And our good home school day plans are really good for good home school days. But we don’t want to try to keep doing those perfect day plans on days where, for whatever reason, we’re either too busy or just not feeling like we can do it. So we don’t want to add to the guilt that is sometimes there because we’re having a bad day to begin with. Do you want fewer arguments, less tension, and true excitement during language arts learning? Night Zookeeper is the Answer Night Zookeeper is a game changing language arts program that takes the stress out of teaching by making it fantastically fun and engaging for your child. The program teaches spelling, grammar and punctuation, vocabulary, reading, and writing through a pre planned language arts curriculum that your child can use independently, freeing you up to focus on other tasks. Night Zookeeper has hundreds of word games, interactive video lessons, and inspiring writing prompts to keep your child engaged all year and boost their confidence. Your child will also get written feedback on their writing from real tutors, so you don’t have to be the bad guy thousands of homeschool parents have found success using night zookeeper to transform their children’s attitudes towards language arts learning. Parents like Ali Midday, one of the member liaisons@pambarnhill.com Allie’s three oldest kids have been using Knight Zookeeper, and they absolutely love the feedback that they get from the writing tutors and the ability to create their own characters. They are having so much fun. So if you’re ready to say goodbye to the stress of teaching language arts, give night zookeeper a try. Click on the link in the description to this podcast for a seven day free trial and 50% off of an annual subscription. The next thing we want to do by having a bad day plan is ensure that some learning takes place. Now this kind of goes back to that guilt thing. As long as there’s a little bit of learning take place, I don’t feel quite as guilty about the bad day that I’m having, but just keeping the kids going with their consistency, keeping the kids going with their learning, giving the kids something to do. Sometimes it’s easier to do school than it is not to do school, even if the school that you’re doing is not exactly what you had planned to do in the first place. Even if it’s your bad day plan. Because sometimes when we don’t do school, that just invites even more chaos into our lives. Which brings me to kind of the third reason why a bad day plan is crucial. And that’s because we want to maintain our sanity even on days when something else is going on. Having a bad day plan is kind of like carrying that umbrella around in your backpack. I mean, nobody ever wants to use the umbrella, but you’re so glad that it’s there when it rains. And that’s what our bad day plan is going to be. It’s going to be that umbrella for those rainy days. So how do we do it? How do we go about crafting a bad day plan for our home school? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is really identifying some low effort activities on your part. So low effort activities for the mom, for the dad, for the homeschool parent. And what are those low effort activities that you could do that are still educational for the kids? And so one of the first things that comes to mind is educational videos. And there are plenty of educational videos on YouTube. There are lots of educational documentaries. Those are something that you could use for at least part of that day. Some of our favorite bad day activities when my kids were little were magic school bus videos. Those were so much fun. Wildcrats is another series of videos that are great bad day activities. Now you might not want to park your kids in front of these for 8 hours in the day, but there’s certainly nothing wrong when you’re having a bad day to watch a couple of these and let the kids really enjoy learning from these educational videos, whether that be a television show or one of the fabulous YouTube channels that are out there that cater to kids learning about different topics. So that’s the first thing. Another low effort activity is audiobooks. So you may not feel like reading out loud to your kids, but that doesn’t mean that your kids can’t be read to by a really good. And sometimes there are some accents or just some books that I feel like are better done by audiobook than they are by mom. One of our favorites is Winnie the Pooh. I think that’s an excellent audiobook. I know there’s a newer version out with Judy Dench that a lot of people like. I really like the old Peter Dennis version. And to me they do so much of a better job at reading Winnie the Pooh than I could ever do. And so I feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever playing an audiobook like that for my kids. Now, if I’m going to do that. Maybe having some coloring pages that are put out or pulling some of our arts and crafts projects or our drawing projects off the shelf and having the kids sit there and do that with their hands while they’re listening to the audiobook. Also, a bad school day is a great day to pull out. Maybe an extra snack. Maybe that’s the day you have second breakfast or lay out some popcorn and some hot cocoa and let the kids really kind of lean in and enjoy that while you’re listening to those audiobooks. The next suggestion I would make for you as kind of a more low effort activity for the homeschooling parent would be to do a little bit of strewing. So go ahead and pull some things off the shelves. Maybe some of those things that you purchased back in the summer when everybody was talking about all the wonderful resources that were out there, and you purchased something you didn’t really know when you were going to use it, and you put it on your shelf thinking, oh, one day we’ll do a unit on this and I’ll pull it out. Don’t save those things for the perfect unit study opportunity. Instead, pull them out on the days that you’re having bad days, spread them out and let your kids dive into something new. Or even if it’s not new. My kids always like it anytime that I pulled out snap circuits or spirographs or kinetic sand or magnetiles. And then these kind of bad school days are really fun days to let the kids dive in and do some of their own exploring or their own learning. It’s also a great day to spread out a bunch of big DK encyclopedias or any books that usborne books that have lots of pictures in them and lots and lots of topics to explore and let the kids go about exploring some of those topics on their own. So strew some things around and let the kids dig into those different kinds of activities. Another fun thing you could do is create some kind of challenge cards for your kids, cards that would challenge them to build something with legos or to make a fort, a reading fort in the living room for their younger siblings. And so you write these things on an index card, and you make a little stack of challenge cards that you first of all have the supplies for and you’re willing to let your kids do, even on days that you’re having a bad day, and then have them pull a challenge card and go create the challenge. And so come up with a few different ideas that you can put on about a dozen cards and keep those challenge cards handy for those days that you’re having a bad day. And big tip, make the challenge cards things that your kids can do by themselves without needing a whole lot of help from you. Another great resource for a bad day is our Wonder Kids club. So this is something that we have that is in conjunction with our Wonder World podcast. And hey, if you haven’t listened to it, that is the perfect bad day activity for your home school. Just press play on a few of those podcasts and let your kids listen and learn from me and my daughter Olivia. So, so many fun things there. But you can also join our Wonder kids club. Right now it’s just $24 for the entire year. And there are all of these fabulous printed puzzles and nature study and activities and all kinds of fun things. You just print them out. There’s bonus audio that you can play for your kids and it is the perfect bad day plan for your home school right there. And then finally, you can also involve your kids. So if you are really struggling, maybe with a little bit of morning sickness because a new baby’s coming, you have an eleven year old, a ten year old. Encourage those older kids to become mini teachers for your younger kids. Also, a lot of times your kids are thinking up projects and things that they want to do. We’ve often talked about here the fact that parents and kids have differing agendas for their day. So this is a great time to let kids work independently on some of those projects that they have been wanting to do. So if they’ve been wanting to do some research or wanting to study something, now you just give them a little bit of time to do that. But they can also teach a sibling about something or read to a younger sibling. This can be one of those challenge cards. It could be an assignment for that ten year old or eleven year old is to go ahead and read two or three favorite picture books to the four year old or five year old. Your ten year old, eleven year old gets practice in elocution, practice in reading out loud, and your four year old and five year old gets some really good quality bonding time with the older brother and sister. Also throwing out a set of playing cards and having them play a couple of hands of war with the younger sibling. And then let them play some with siblings who are closer in age and really have some fun and competitiveness. So there are so many different ideas that you could use for that bad day plan. But have something in your pocket. Have some activities that you’ve either written up on index cards, make a list and put it in your teacher binder. Tuck it somewhere so that when you do start having that bad school day, for whatever reason, maybe it’s not even a day that you feel bad, but a day that you’re going to spend on the phone dealing with other people, you have something for your kids to do that does not stress you out, that makes you feel good about the way they’re spending their day, and that gives them a little bit of structured activity so the day doesn’t devolve into chaos. So there you have it. Craft your bad day plan going into 2024 and keep it handy. Let us know come on over to community pambarnhill.com. Sign up for a free account and let us know in the community exactly what it is you’re going to be doing on your bad day plan. And also check out the show notes for this episode of the podcast pambarnhill.com/Tmbh83 thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you for tuning in to ten minutes to a better homeschool. Remember, small changes can make a big impact in your homeschooling journey. If you want more tips and resources to enhance your experience, check out our free homeschool better together community. You’ll find additional tools, guides, and a community of supportive homeschoolers just like you. Visit community pambarnhill.com to learn more and join us. Until next time, keep on homeschooling. Subscribe.

Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Wild Kratts: Around the World Adventures DVDPinWild Kratts: Around the World Adventures DVDWild Kratts: Around the World Adventures DVDPinThe Magic School Bus: Greatest Original EpisodesPinThe Magic School Bus: Greatest Original EpisodesThe Magic School Bus: Greatest Original EpisodesPinWinnie-The-Pooh Boxed Set: Winnie-The-Pooh; The House at Pooh Corner; When We Were Very Young; Now We Are SixPinWinnie-The-Pooh Boxed Set: Winnie-The-Pooh; The House at Pooh Corner; When We Were Very Young; Now We Are SixWinnie-The-Pooh Boxed Set: Winnie-The-Pooh; The House at Pooh Corner; When We Were Very Young; Now We Are SixPinSnap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit, Over 100 Projects, Full Color Project Manual, 28 Parts, STEM Educational Toy for Kids 8 +PinSnap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit, Over 100 Projects, Full Color Project Manual, 28 Parts, STEM Educational Toy for Kids 8 +Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit, Over 100 Projects, Full Color Project Manual, 28 Parts, STEM Educational Toy for Kids 8 +PinSpirograph — Fun Shapes Drawing Art Set — Classic Spirograph Gear Play With New Shapes — For Ages 8+PinSpirograph — Fun Shapes Drawing Art Set — Classic Spirograph Gear Play With New Shapes — For Ages 8+Spirograph — Fun Shapes Drawing Art Set — Classic Spirograph Gear Play With New Shapes — For Ages 8+PinThe Mysteries of the Universe: Discover the best-kept secrets of space (DK Children's Anthologies)PinThe Mysteries of the Universe: Discover the best-kept secrets of space (DK Children’s Anthologies)The Mysteries of the Universe: Discover the best-kept secrets of space (DK Children's Anthologies)PinKnowledge Encyclopedia Human Body! (DK Knowledge Encyclopedias)PinKnowledge Encyclopedia Human Body! (DK Knowledge Encyclopedias)Knowledge Encyclopedia Human Body! (DK Knowledge Encyclopedias)Pin

 

Key Takeaways About Planning for Bad Days

  • Expect and Accept Bad Days: Understand that bad days are a normal part of homeschooling and come with the territory.
  • Have a Plan: Keep a ‘Bad Day Plan’ with activities that are low-effort but still educational, to help navigate through tough days.
  • Use Strewing: Implement the strategy of ‘strewing’, which involves laying out interesting educational materials to encourage self-guided learning.
  • Involving Older Children in Teaching: Leverage the help of older children in teaching younger ones, which can benefit both age groups.
  • Be Flexible and Adapt: Flexibility is critical; be ready to adapt your plans and expectations based on the day’s circumstances.

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