Refreshing Routines

May 25, 2023 | Posted by Danielle Olander

For many teachers and teaching parents, summer is a time to relax. Another school year is in the books. Long lazy days lie before you as you take a deep breath and put away the textbooks and gradebooks. For most it is also a time to plan the next year. New curricula arrive in the mail, and hope springs eternal that this is the year that fractions will finally make sense! As you spend time planning for your students, make sure you also spend time planning to fill your cup. Take time to take care of yourself this summer. Plan time to renew and refresh through habits that will re-energize you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Doing so will empower you as a teacher.


Is your physical activity limited to running after children? Andrew Pudewa and Julie Walker recently interviewed guests who spoke about physical health on two different episodes of the Arts of Language podcast. Katie Wells from Wellness Mama discussed ways to incorporate healthy routines. Her tips on spending time outside, especially early in the morning, fit in well with a second podcast guest, Ginny Yurich from 1000 Hours Outside. Ginny challenged listeners to spend one thousand hours outside each year. This averages to three hours a day, which is daunting when the temperatures are in the single digits as they are in the winter months in my home state of Michigan. However, if you are able to spend more time outside in the summer, those winter months won’t ruin your record. Use this summer to establish habits of physical activity outside that might just carry into the less temperate seasons.


Do you have plans for professional development this summer? All teachers need this. Model to your children what it is like to be a lifelong learner. Let them see you learning something new or reviewing a subject area that you struggle to teach. A tricky subject learned in the summer through a library book or a podcast series will bear fruit in the fall. Find an easy-to-read narrative of the history period your students will be studying. Even something as simple as the Wordle app, sudoku, or a daily word search will keep your mind sharp. Surprise your children by memorizing poems from the Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization. You can access the first five poems for free here. If you have not yet done so, summer can be an ideal time to watch the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style video seminar and participate in IEW’s Great TWSS Adventure. The free IEW Annual Educators’ Conference is July 22, 2023. Not only will the day provide encouragement and an opportunity to collaborate with others, but Andrew Pudewa will offer insights and a host of ideas to enhance your teaching. If you teach students with learning differences, he will also address how to provide effective instruction to help students of all abilities succeed.


What brings you joy? For many it is working on something that produces a finished project—a knitted sweater, an embroidery sampler, or a photo book of your year. Last summer I bought a subscription to a watercolor box so I could play with painting. It came with all the supplies I needed to complete a simple project as well as a link to step-by-step instructional videos. Are you a reader? Sarah Mackenzie with Read Aloud Revival has a special page with book lists just for moms. Pick out a few just-for-fun books to enjoy this summer in addition to beginning—or finishing—a project.


Where do you turn in times of crisis? Cultivate your soul by engaging in activities that align with your beliefs and values. This can include prayer, meditation, spiritual disciplines, or participating in activities that connect you with others in your faith. In his new talk, Preparing for Persecution – A Curriculum Proposal recorded at IEW’s 2022 Fall Conference, Andrew Pudewa provides suggestions of songs, prayers, and stories. Memorizing prayers or scripture can build your soul’s reserves. In addition, many podcasts have daily readings to nourish your wellbeing.


When was the last time you spent time with a friend over a cup of tea? Make a list of family and friends whom you have missed in recent months. The end of the school year can be so busy with activities filled with people that it is easy to neglect kindred spirits. Schedule a time each week to catch up with a friend, whether in person or over the phone. If you can walk outside while you talk, you can accomplish physical and social activity at one time!


Self-care seems to be the latest trend. Although it may feel like one more thing to add to your to-do list, recognize that finding time to sharpen your skills and fill your cup is essential to have the energy to pour into your students. With its slower pace, summer often provides time to find ways to further develop your teaching skills, and more importantly to begin refreshing routines that will carry over into the school year and add balance to your busy days.

Danielle Olander is an IEW® Accomplished Instructor. Married to her college sweetheart, Ray, and a homeschooling mom of five amazing children, she teaches several of IEW's online writing classes.

After graduating from her parents’ homeschool in the pioneer days of homeschooling, Danielle graduated summa cum laude with her B.A. in English/History Education from Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Michigan. During and after college, she worked as a librarian’s assistant, which only increased her lifelong love of reading and writing as she discovered so many new means of locating fascinating facts.


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