Sometimes it seems like the day is over before it gets started. It can be difficult to get the morning started and stay on track. If you have these issues, you may be searching for the way to keep your homeschool day under control. Here are some secrets to keeping our homeschool day successful and productive.
Plan ahead – One of the biggest things that works for us is to plan ahead. Knowing what I expect to accomplish each day helps me. I like to know what I need to get done and what I want to get done. As long as the need list is complete, I am happy; and if the want list is completed, I am ecstatic! When the kids know what they need to get done each day, they feel better and like the sense of accomplishment of making progress through their lists.
Be flexible – Being flexible is also important. If the day does not start the way it should, we just adjust the schedule back. If we find that we have afternoon activities, we get started earlier to ensure we are wrapping up by the time we need to leave. When unscheduled interruptions happen, we just adapt and move on. I keep the kids informed on what we are doing and why we are trying to get things done early. This makes them feel a part of the daily decisions and keeps them understanding our daily goals.
Plan activities for the Little Ones – If you have little ones at home, planning activities for them is important to keep the disruptions to a minimum. Obviously, when you have infants and toddlers about, interruptions will happen (see be flexible) but having some planned activities is a good way to keep them involved. We scheduled time for reading, working on toddler activities, and playing quietly with special toys. Having a time to play with Play-do, a special toy, blocks, or flashcards is important and makes them feel a part of the school day as well. You may also want to consider some time for “school” where your older children “teach” the little ones. My daughter LOVES teaching our 2 year old. She is learning and so is he and they both enjoy the time.
Schedule one-on-one time – It is important that every child gets some undivided attention from mom. If you have several children, this can be more of a scheduling necessity but is very important. Quality time does not have to be a large block of time. Fifteen minutes of quality time snuggling with a book, playing cars with your son, or just talking can go a long way and can REALLY have an effect on the overall attitude of all the children. Plan to have one-on-one time with the toddlers and work your way up. Toddlers who get one-on-one time with mom are much more manageable throughout the day.
Keep it short – We keep the lessons short. This is the biggest key to our daily success. We have found this approach to be very effective and retention is much higher. We have the clock available and the children know how long to spend on the subject at hand. When the allotted time has passed, we move on. If you need more time on a subject, consider breaking it into two time slots to keep the lessons short. This is helpful, especially in subjects that are challenging or uninteresting to your child. They know they only have 15 minutes and usually can concentrate for that long. We keep everything between 10-20 minutes. Obviously, as children get older, you may need to increase time slots for certain subjects but, overall, this can be a successful schedule.
Keep your cool – Keeping your cool, regardless of what happens to your day, is vital. I have found that the less I let our interruptions and unscheduled issues upset me, the more smoothly our days seem to go and more we accomplish. Just go with the flow and adapt when necessary and you will find that your day is smoother and your stress level is much lower thus making everyone much happier.
Homeschooling can be challenging at time but the challenges are worth the rewards exponentially. Doing your best to keep your days smooth and productive is beneficial to everyone. Finding what works and being flexible can go a long way to making your homeschool days successful!