This time of year, at the end of January and into mid-February, home educators often seem to experience a slump. To be honest, many teachers in schools feel this slump, too. After months of cold weather people just long to do something different, they want spring already. People want to be outside exploring and having fun. Often times, a quick bundle up and a little time outside brings us back indoors. We need to change things up. The weather may not reliable enough, to spend hours outside each day. We can change things up in the home.
A long time ago, I came up with a little bridge activity that I have used each year after the New Year, to ease us back into homeschooling. A jigsaw puzzle is my bridge activity of choice. I use it after New Year, after breaks, and even after we have been down with illness, have gotten well and need to refocus. I found it works better than just playing games together. Now I pull out a puzzle any time we need to change things up. That is right, I pull out a puzzle. Sometimes we roll our eyes, but we cannot seem to leave it alone. The puzzle sitting on the table just pulls us in. I place a whiteboard on the dining room table, to build the puzzle on and that way I can just crab the puzzle in progress and slide it under the sofa so we can set the table, then bring it back out when dinner is cleaned up. The white board is light. We use cookie sheets to sort puzzle pieces on. When we are not using the dining room table for meals, I make sure the puzzle is there.
Oh, yes, at first we resist. Soon we are turning all the pieces over, we gather similar colors together, then divide by shape. Then we start with trying to put an edge together. Then we start fitting colors together. This process seems to help us move back to being more organized. Sometimes we are convinced there is a missing piece, but we soon find all of the pieces are there. One year when I opened a jigsaw puzzle box, I found five puzzles had been dumped in the same box. There were no tops or picture and we had no idea what they were to look like. It took us a week. We divided the pieces by color and shape as usual. We started fitting edge pieces together. We were sure there were missing pieces. In the end, amazingly there were no missing pieces! Five puzzles emerged. When we were finished, we already slipped back into our home routines and home learning.
As we puzzle we begin to talk, and listen, we are not just piecing a puzzle we are drawing ourselves together. We stop to prepare meals and clean up. We all work together on this. Soon we are stopping to read aloud. Before you know it, we are re-establishing a rhythm of habits, life is moving back into normalcy, the break is over and we are back into our homeschooling and household rhythms. We did this all without letting kids get sucked into screens! Puzzles have a way of helping us transition. Before you know it, we are finished with the puzzle and back to learning.
Take advantage of the stay inside weather to learn. If you need to get wiggles out and it is too cold, snowy, or rainy to go out, turn on some music and dance or exercise. Then pull out the puzzle and begin to refocus. While sometimes we have a love hate relationship with this activity. Yet, it is amazing how working a puzzle can help move you beyond the winter slump!
Enjoy the Journey!
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This week's newsletter will be available via email through Monday, 20 February 2017, when the next Newsletter is scheduled to be released.