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Simple New Year, Simple Fresh Start

New Year and change go together. We make New Year resolutions to promise ourselves change. We want to insure that this year will be different, fresh, and more workable.

Homeschool families feel the same way. We want to insure that daily life will be different, fresh and more workable in the New Year. The changes we jump to tend to begin with "C," as in curriculum and classes. But changing those is complicated, requires cash, and can be a colossal big deal. Find simpler, easier fresh starts by just changing a few Ws, such as where and when.

Changing the where and the when of life can bring a refreshing change of scene. A simple change of scene can refresh your life and add a spark to your children's learning.

Where do your children do their schoolwork? Switch it around. If you have just one room that works for school, move the furniture around. If you have more than one room, try starting school in the living room instead of the family room or kitchen. Could your children take turns doing their schoolwork under the table? Under the table feels cozy, and can even help children concentrate. If it's too dark, move the table closer to the wall and plug in a table lamp, on the floor, to light the new learning area. Could you switch your children's bedrooms, or just move their beds? Waking up to a new view can create a better new day.

Where is your artwork? We can become so used to that lighthouse picture above the blue chair that we don't even see it. Try rearranging the artwork and pictures in your home. Mix them up! Don't be surprised if one of your children says, "Is that new?"

When do you start your day? Could you start later, or earlier? Might make a difference. Is math always first? Try putting math at the end of your lesson line-up. You may find that your children do better with math last, after a few hours of "brain warm-up."

When do you start your week? For homeschool children, chores can be less onerous than schoolwork – at least on Mondays. Try turning Monday into a total-chore day (at least for January). Have everyone pitch in to get chores out of the way (such as laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, major meal prep, cleaning bedrooms, and filing and recycling stray mail and paper). Give silly, inexpensive prizes for everyone when they get their chores done. For breaks from chores, or after lunch, do learning games such as playing "buzz" or 20 Questions for Words, i.e. "I'm thinking of a word that starts with 't' and is in our front yard." "How many letters?" "Four" "Tree?" "Yes, your turn." Learning games keep the brain turned to "on," but in a fun way. Then, start schoolwork on Tuesday.

Happy New Year!

Virginia Vagt is a writer, speaker, editor and 13-year veteran homeschooling mom

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