The other day I posted my first article in my FIRST EVER SERIES “So, You’re Thinking About Homeschooling…”. I talked about curriculum and you can get to it through the link.
Today’s entry – Daily School Life
Here are some things that I should share with someone thinking about starting homeschooling….
1. Homeschooling is a JOB, and the faster you think of it like that, the easier life will be. If you have a job, you don’t just skip days. You don’t take time off whenever you want (realistically). Some of the homeschoolers I’ve seen struggle, struggle because they don’t see homeschooling as a job that has to be done consistently. Sure – take a day off here or there – but do it deliberately. Some homeschoolers are lifers, and as a result they never see themselves as “behind” or “off schedule”. I am a lifer, but I still have annual goals I want accomplished, and things/curriculum I want my kids to learn. If we don’t school 5 days a week, most weeks, it won’t happen. Even, if not ESPECIALLY, with little ones doing something every day for an hour is SO MUCH better than cramming in a bunch of work one or two days a week. Again, yes, take a day at the art museum – but do it deliberately. Day at the park? YES!! After math – then you get both done. 🙂
2. MAKE A SCHEDULE FRAMEWORK for you week. This way you’ll see, on paper, what your week will look like and what days are heavier/lighter. You may want to plan a lighter day in. We use Wednesday as a lighter day and have forever. When the kids were little we did story time then, and now we have piano lessons and bible study. We’re always done at 1:15 on Wednesday. If I have to make a medical or dental appointment, I make it for a Wednesday as much as I can so it’s on a light day.
3. TAKE YOUR HUSBAND’S SCHEDULE INTO ACCOUNT. If you are going to take a day off every time dad is off – schedule and plan for it. If you’re not – talk about it ahead of time so he’s not feeling excluded. We don’t take time off for dad. His schedule is NUTS and if we did we would NEVER have a rhythm in our home. We school M-F, most days, most weeks. We do take some time off with him – but for random days we still get math, bible, and science done before skipping out on the afternoon. He knocks out a workout and his errands – and then we do something. Find what works for you, but don’t let his schedule be an excuse for you to not get your job done. (Yeah, kind of harsh. Sorry. I’ve seen this be a mess in real life…)
4. DAILY HOURS. As nerdy as it sounds, setting up “business hours” that you plan to homeschool will make you life easier. Turn off your phone then, or at least call screen with impunity. Don’t call your BFF. Or text. Stay off the computer. Don’t go near Facebook. Don’t go off cleaning or doing laundry. Don’t let the neighbor kids on their day off throw off your schedule. Try not to make appointments in the middle of the day. Eliminate the “are we doing school today?” question from the kids. “8:30-____ is school. I’ll let you know if it’s not. When your work is done, the day is over.” Seriously, life will be so much easier for you and the kids.
5. WEEKLY SCHEDULE. A weekly schedule has been a lifesaver for me since we started. My goal list. Now the kids manage theirs, but before I did. When an item is done, it gets highlighted. A visual reminder of our day. I love it. If you have to track for the state – keep the schedules in a binder and you’re ready. So easy. With my kids being older, they manage their schedules now. I use Homeschool Tracker Plus, and the Sonlight schedule. When I switch to the “do the next lesson” thing instead of the printed schedule – it’s just a mess and things seem to take forever. Now when I see an idle kid I just ask, “What’s left on your list?” They manage it. Awesome!
6. KEEP SCHOOL SUPPLIES SEPARATE. Time spent looking for paper…a pencil… is a fat waste of time to me. I have supplies that are school only and put up by the kids at the end of every day. No more searching.
7. PLAN YOUR HIGH CONCENTRATION ITEMS. We do math first, because everyone is fresh. It works for us. I have a friend who does it last. Find what works for your kids and knock it out then. Me, I am DONE at 1. Nothing after 1 is going to be a win for me. LOL!
8. “CHILDREN DO WHAT YOU INSPECT, NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT”. This is not an original thought for me – but one handed down by wise mentors. It’s SO, SO, SO true!!! You have to check any work done without you VERY consistently. (And this is true of math, chores, piano practice, anything) Don’t waste a week, a month, or more of math/piano/language arts/etc. because you don’t check up on daily assignments and test grading. This is true EVEN IF you use a self correcting computer program. ALL of them can be gamed by students, intentionally or not, to looks like the student “gets it” when they don’t. Build it in to your day or week. Do it however you have to – but do it. It’s HUGELY important.
9. STREAMLINE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. I like to minimize our school time. Not that I don’t love it, but I also want time for fun, baking, exploration, and legos. You know what I mean. SO – minimize. One math. Done well. Copy or dictate your Bible memory – not an adidtional passage. Have newer readers read the daily bible passage aloud. Map your history, rather than add in another geography. Make sure penmanship is neat for writing – and maybe skip a handwriting add on. Streamline. Concise. Then do it every day and you’ll see amazing results.
10. NEW READERS NEED TO READ EVERY DAY. Not just M-F. Every day. We read God’s Word every day, and that’s why we learn to read, so let’s read every day. They’ll catch on faster and the rhythm will be easier to maintain. Older readers STILL need to read aloud to catch new words, habits, skipping, etc. Read aloud time and bible are great times for this. 🙂
I hope this is of some help. We certainly don’t have it all together here, and our way is one of a billion ways to homeschool, but hopefully this can be a little helpful! Next installment – DAILY LIFE AND HOMESCHOOLING.