How to save a homeschool day gone bad

We all enjoy those lovely days when everyone gets up well rested with a smile on their face. We are surrounded by teachable moments and the children just can’t wait to learn another amazing fact.

But, let’s face it. Sometimes, everyone is screaming. Mom is exhausted. The house is a mess. Homeschooling is not the dream world we pictured. What do we do now? I’ve asked several fellow homeschoolers to share their best tip for saving a rough homeschool day and getting everyone back in a good mood and productive. Enjoy!

bad day

What is your best tip for handling a homeschool day gone bad?

My best tip for handling a homeschool day gone bad is actually a two-tip in one. First, relax. Second, go with the flow. Things not go according to plan? Or how you scheduled it? Baby wake up sick, requiring clothes and bedding to be washed every 30 minutes? Or how about the older one acting like he can’t remember how to add…. whatever has caused the day to go bad, embrace it, relax, and let it go. It’s perfectly normal, and you are not alone. Maybe schooling will look more like watching movies, taking an extra nap, or helping with groceries. No matter what, a homeschool day gone bad doesn’t mean it’s a day lost. Hang in there!

– Michelle Huddleston, Read her article 5 Ways to Finish the Homeschool Year with Grace


We have bad days and the reasons vary. Often the bad days are because of bad behavior in my kids. I try to figure out why, but often, in the end, they just need discipline. And honestly, the discipline makes the day even worse. But every time I carry out the discipline, it pays off the next day. That day can be totally ruined because of all the drama from the discipline, but when I stick to my word and do what I say I’ll do, the next day is always better! Every. Single. Time. I just have to tell myself it will be worth it for this day to be ruined so that my kids learn how to behave for all the rest of the days.

Bad days happen to everyone, don’t fret! I find that the best way to combat a bad day, is to stop what we’re doing and re-set. Sometimes that means taking time apart and having quiet time, or maybe it means packing everyone into the car and just hanging out at the beach or the playground for the rest of the afternoon. The beauty of homeschooling is that learning can be natural and child led. If everyone’s having a bad day there’s no point forcing schooling, as it’s likely not to sink in or be meaningful anyway!

Reading out some affirmations can also be a really helpful way to combat a bad day and reset. My favourite affirmations are ones that remind me of who God is, who I am in God, who my children are in God, and how much we love learning. We use Bible verses, and other statements of intention as our affirmations. 🙂

– Talia Carbis, The Climbing Tree
When we are having a bad day, and the weather is agreeable, I send everyone outside. That’s includes Mom. The fresh air and ability to run around, and hear the birds singing, does wonders for our attitudes. Sometimes we just need some space and a change of scenery. When we are all frustrated, I send everyone out. But more often, I sense that one child is reaching a level of overwhelm, and I keep ahead of it by suggesting they take a twenty minute break outside. They usually come back refreshed and ready to tackle another subject.
– Heidi Cooper, Torah Family Living
The best tips I can think of:
– Put the books away and get some cuddle time.
– Do something to make everyone laugh, such as watch a funny movie. (A merry heart does good like a medicine…)
– Go into your room for a couple minutes and PRAY.
– Have a snack that has protein and is comfort food, in case the problem is hunger.
– Anne Elliott, Homeschooling Torah

When Heidi wrote me and asked for a “tip” regarding homeschooling, I thought, “Surely she messaged the wrong person!” But then I read more carefully and saw that the “tip” she was after was on how to handle a homeschool day gone wrong. “Oh, never mind. I got this.”

First of all, we school almost year round – taking breaks for feast days and weeks – so bad days aren’t really anything to cry over (not that there are never tears). Around here, though, when a bad day comes to bite us, my strategy does not involve biting back. So, when Mom needs a nap more than the kids need an education, when math they’ve understood for three years is suddenly a mystery to them, when tears fall on papers that will surely seem less complex tomorrow, when two out of five of the students are sick, etc. my firm belief is that surrender is the right course of action. In our case, surrender looks like Netflix documentaries and smells a lot like popcorn.

– Sarah Hawkes Valente, Author of Lessons in Yeshua’s Torah and other books, found at

If math is the thing causing the problem, then:
1) Do it BIG on a whiteboard or big sheet of paper (together).
2) Do fewer problems for the day.
3) Use manipulatives, preferably something that can be eaten, such as chocolate chips or raisins or cheerios. Legos are nice, too. Just something different and more fun.
4) Just skip it for the day!
If phonics is the problem, then:
1) Take turns reading. One word for the child, next word for the mom.
2) Get up and move while sounding out sounds. Maybe write the words in sidewalk chalk outside, or write them in cornmeal on a cookie sheet, or paint with water and a brush on pavement. Just BIG and different.
3) Put away the lesson and just review, especially the sounds giving problems.
4) Keep the lesson short and sweet (5 minutes), but do it again in a couple hours (again, short and sweet).
If it’s a bad attitude and has been going on a few days (ie. not tiredness or sickness, etc.), then check your marriage. Is Mom talking back to Dad or showing him disrespect? Or maybe Mom/Dad just need a date night. If marriage is okay, does the child need a date with Mom or Dad?
– Anne Elliott, Homeschooling Torah, read her article A Realistic Mother
I like to go with my intuition and what my soul speaks and when you asked me what my best tip was for handling a homeschool day “gone bad”, I believe deeply that there really isn’t a “bad” homeschool day (and, yep, I’ve homeschooled longer than one day. It’s been 18 1/2 years.)
Every day we have is for our beautiful soul correction and full of purpose. I love to ask myself the question, “to what purpose?” or “what can I learn from this?” or “how can I grow?”. Perhaps in a day that I perceive as being less effective or stressful, it causes me to be introspective to see if I need to set aside time to plan or prepare. Or perhaps it is a time when I get to practice and experience more patience, more gentleness, more understanding, more prayer, more praise, more connection, more spontaneity, or more play. The possibilities are endless.
My favorite practical way to interrupt a “blah” day, is to physically get up and move… to change it up. To take a walk, go to a park, make ice cream and sit in the sunshine with the children. It’s a perfect time to kick the blah and mundane to the curb and create an enjoyable space to be intentional and present in!
– Christina Kubik,
I hope these tips will be helpful to you the next time you feel like you are in over your head. What I want you to remember is that bad days come to all of us. We can let those bad days slap us across the face, or we can use them as opportunities to grow and connect with our children more.
I want to let you in on a little secret. When I asked these lovely ladies to help with this blog post, I told them I was looking for “expert tips.” They were quick to tell me that they were no experts. But, the thing is, a mother truly is an expert with her children. You can do what is best for your family. YHVH equipped you for the job, even when things are less than rosy. So, be encouraged, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and turn those frustrating days around.
What tips do you think will be useful for your family? Share in the comments. And be sure to stop by our contributors’ sites and say hi!
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