This summer we are spending time doing a couple of review activities and some reading each weekday. Nothing major, nothing hard, nothing new, nothing time consuming. I just wanted to kick back have some review time so we don’t experience summer slide and provide a little structure to our summer.

Then it happened, my simple plan turned complicated.

You see there was a day this week when my second son seemed to have lost his mind. He couldn’t spell. He couldn’t rhyme. He couldn’t do math that was WAY simple for what he ended the year doing. I thought I was going to lose my head. Thankfully, I didn’t [this time] and instead I just checked in on him. He said he’d had a tough night full of nightmares and just needed a break so that’s what we did.

But since nightmares aren’t always the cause of something easy being too hard it made me think, what do we do other times when this happens? How can we keep life smart and simple when the wheels seem to be coming off? After some thought, I found we have four go to strategies for when learning [or review] just isn’t going as planned and we need a little something extra.

  1. Grab for something Physical – Manipulatives as they are called in most school settings can make a huge difference. Teaching geography? Grab a real map or globe. Math time? Let’s get out the beads, counting bears, jelly beans, geoboards. Need to work on spelling or phonics? Magnetic letters or letter tiles for the win.
  2. Go Back a Step – What does a person need to be able to do or what to do they need to know before this concept can make sense? Talk about that idea for a few minutes and then jump back into what was too hard. I think of this as a running start. Sometimes that schema just needs activated a little more strongly than others.
  3. Sing it Out – Make up a silly song. Most of my boys don’t care for music but when we need a silly way to remember something or to get ourselves out of a funk, it works.
  4. Run for a Bit – Sometimes this actually looks like running around the neighborhood. Other times it is errands. And from time to time it looks like brain dump writing. The whole point is walk away for a bit. Come back but for just a moment, walk away. Sometimes our head is full of something else and we need to be able to recognize this and put our thoughts back together before we can possibly focus even on something that is usually easy for us.

How do you reset when even the easy seems hard? Do you keep it smart? Is it simple? Share with us in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.