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Finding Your Groove
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You just finished reviewing your son’s math assignment. Thinking about the last three subjects your child needs to complete, you glance at the clock. You realize your husband will be home in twenty minutes and it is time to make supper. It’s week three in your school year and you start wondering if you will ever find your groove!

 

Everyone experiences a day like this sometime during their homeschool journey. Thankfully, there are solutions to help you manage your homeschool day.

The first component to managing your homeschool is developing a good plan. A good plan will position you to easily identify adaptable areas that will allow you to tend to the care of various family members and commitments while preparing your children for whatever mission God calls them to.

 

Much like a map helps you plan an efficient road trip, a planned routine will help your day run more smoothly. Plan out a good routine to keep your child from feeling as though he is navigating in the dark, confused about what he should be doing next. As a guide to direct your child’s focus throughout each day, your routine will establish expectations, keeping you from having to deal with opposition because your child had a different plan in mind.

 

Develop a Schedule That Works for You

The first stage to developing a good plan is to build structure around your family. Consider your daily routine including sleep habits, your spouse’s work schedule, your work schedule (if you have job obligations), and outside commitments (appointments and extracurricular activities).

 

Next, prioritize commitments by deciphering which ones are most worthwhile. List your commitments in order, starting with those that are most beneficial to your family. Set a daily, weekly, and monthly limit to the number of commitments and consider letting go of the ones that are least beneficial. This method of prioritizing and reducing your family’s number of commitments will keep you from signing up for too much and help you ensure that your child has time for his studies.

 

Considering your daily routine, your priorities, and your commitments, you are now ready to pencil in a loose outline. Creating a loose outline will help you assimilate your schedule with the natural flow of your family. Depending on your family dynamics and commitments, your order may be slightly different, but here is a basic example of a loose outline.

 

Wake up

Get ready

Eat Breakfast

Study

Eat Lunch

Study

Outside commitments

Eat Supper

Finish Chores

Prepare for tomorrow

Relax

Sleep

 

Seasons change, goals change, and needs change. There will be times in your life that the loose outline you created is enough to keep you on schedule with the countless variables and circumstances during your current season. Other times, you will find great benefit in incorporating a mix of specific detailed elements among flexible variables that are not detailed or assigned specific times. During some seasons of homeschooling, your family may thrive on a more specific schedule. You know your family dynamics best and are fully equipped to decide what works best for your family during a particular season.

 

If a more specific schedule works for your family, write down a list of what you would like to accomplish. Focusing on what is most important, think about optimum times to accomplish these essential elements. Referring to the daily activities you wish to achieve, pencil in more specific details to selected sections on your loose outline. You can get as specific as you want, setting specific times to activities you wish to accomplish.

 

6:00 AM          Wake up / brush teeth / shower

6:30 AM          Eat Breakfast

7:00 AM          Learn new math concept with mom and complete math assignment

7:50 AM          10-minute break

…and so on

 

Now that you have outlined a schedule that works with the natural flow of your family, it is time to develop solutions for implementing smoother transitions from one stage of the schedule to the next with the goal of a more peaceful completion of each element. 

Here are a few tips:

 

  • Be prepared

Some of my homeschool years have been more organized than others, and I can attest that better organization equals smoother homeschool days.

 

  1. Organize school supplies in easily accessible bins or drawers.
  2. Provide your child with a daily list of each of his subject’s assignments.
  3. Pull out the current day’s assignments each morning and place them in a file folder so he’s not searching for them.
  4. Provide a good filing system for your child to hand in assignments that need grading.
  5. Grade daily and keep records.
    • Keeps your kids accountable.
    • You will realize when they don’t understand a concept, giving you the opportunity to create a solution on how to help them understand it.
  6. Know what to keep and throw away.
    • Check your state’s homeschool laws for requirements on record keeping and paperwork.
    • Assess what you would like to keep.
  7. Create a yearly portfolio.
    • Include lesson plans, grades, nationally standardized test scores, sample work and/or other records required by your state’s homeschool law.
    • Label your portfolio with subject tabs and file your child’s work in the appropriate section as you finish grading them.

 

  • Assess energy levels and schedule the subjects and activities that require more concentration during that time.

 

  1. If you try a field trip or doctor appointment in the morning, you might have a hard time getting everyone to settle down and concentrate afterwards.
  2. If your family is like mine, energy and concentration levels dissipate in the afternoon. To accommodate, schedule easier subjects, activities, and appointments for later in the day.

 

  • Start slowly

I equate the startup of our homeschool year to a new employee learning how to perform a new job. I don’t know about you, but when I start a new job, it takes me a few months to become efficient at managing the new daily responsibilities and schedule. If you are getting back to a routine after an extended break, if you are new to homeschooling, or if you have switched curriculum, allow your child (and yourself) time to acclimate to his new schedule and responsibilities.

 

  1. Start with half of his subjects, adding more incrementally.
  2. Sit with your child to assess where he can streamline his efforts.
  3. Set time limits for each subject.
  4. Rotate through studies, reallocating the unfinished subject(s) to the start of the next day’s planned studies so your child is not skipping the same subject day after day.

 

  • Streamline lessons

 

  1. Continually assessing what your child knows, combine lessons when possible.
  2. Adjust the assignment workload to meet your child’s abilities.
  3. Keep in mind that the key to learning ever-more complex concepts is to make sure your child understands what he is learning.

 

  • It is easier to start each day right when you end the day right.

 

  1. Tidy up each night to free up your morning routine.
  2. Orchestrate a team effort to pick up main areas and clean your kitchen.
  3. Gather items needed for any appointments (keys, diaper bag, paperwork, etc.)
  4. Do whatever you can each evening to prepare for morning routines.

 

  • Keep your morning routine simple and straightforward

 

  1. Create a checklist reminding your child to complete each activity throughout the day.
  2. Provide a sustaining breakfast to keep your child from thinking about food while studying.
  3. Set a specific time for your child to start his school studies.  

 

  • Maintain a routine

 

  1. Establish a good routine by practicing it for three to four weeks.
  2. Limit exceptions and you will notice your child becoming more independent and focused.
  3. As the weeks pass, you will feel more relaxed, not having to constantly remind your child what to do.
  4. With every passing week, you will gain peace, knowing your homeschool day is running more smoothly.

 

  • Keep household maintenance simple during the school week.

 

  1. Discuss your ideals with your spouse to discover what level of cleanliness is acceptable and manageable: not perfect.
  2. Bless your home with deeper cleaning during a day off school (or just prior to expecting company).

 

  • Approach responsibilities with a team mindset / everyone does their part

 

  1. Hold everyone accountable for their own belongings.
  2. Encourage everyone to put back what they have taken out.
  3. Assign a few family members to a team chore so they learn to work together.

 

  • Produce solutions to maintain cleanliness more easily.
    1. Cleaning wipes under bathroom sinks give you the opportunity to do a quick wipe down when you are there.
    2. Clear off your table after meals, placing dishes in the sink.
    3. Designate (and label) an area for each family member to place their cup for reuse during the day. (This solution reduces my family’s daily cup use from twenty-one to seven).
    4. Plan to clean your kitchen after supper each evening.
    5. Assign everyone to pick up the main areas in your home for 15-20 minutes each evening.

 

People often consult a map to navigate around an unforeseen road closure. Similarly, you can consult your schedule to look for elements that you can change if your day gets knocked off track. Therefore, it is important to create a routine with enough flexibility to make room for unforeseen detours without throwing off your mood or making you feel like a failure. Add a little star to items that are flexible within a few hours and mark others that can be moved to another day. Identify areas where you can apply a rotation of responsibilities. For example, you can plan to rotate through subjects during study time, reallocating any unfinished subjects to the first planned studies the following day.

 

Copy your scheduled routine for each planned day of study and pencil in modifications to allow for commitments. Share the planned changes with your children so they know what elements of their day will be altered to allow for the added commitment.

 

If you notice that an element of your schedule isn’t working, evaluate your schedule and identify what can be changed to help your day flow more smoothly. For example, if breaks get extended too easily, set a timer.

 

Grace and Perspective

We all have days when we feel unaccomplished and, truthfully, it’s not always easy to stop in the middle of a lesson to work on issues that present themselves. When you experience a day like this, take a moment to reflect on it. The wipes your child fetched for you as you changed that infant’s diaper gave him the fulfillment one feels when helping someone else. Likewise, when your child witnesses you help someone in need, kindness and compassion are grown.

 

As you manage your child’s disagreement with a sibling, they learn how to compromise and work out differences, preparing them to work with others in the future. When you ask for help or apologize after making a mistake, you plant the seed of humility inside your child’s heart. When your child sees you pick yourself up and try again, he also learns to persevere. The knowledge your child gains from his studies cultivates skills to help him communicate and serve others in ever-expanding ways. And as he delves into the biblical truths woven throughout the BJU Press homeschool curriculum, he is solidifying and learning to apply those valuable lessons about love, responsibility, reliance on God, caring for others, and more.

 

Look upon your time together as a gift where you both achieve spiritual growth as you work through the lessons of obedience, patience, repentance, forgiveness, and love. Then you will treasure each moment woven into your everyday studies, knowing the combination of it all provides the light, warmth, and nutrients needed to cultivate your children’s hearts and a willingness to apply their knowledge, God-given gifts, and compassions as they serve others throughout their personal and professional lives.



Meet the Author


Yvonne Strachan - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant
www.homeworksbyprecept.com/Yvonne-Strachan
Author of Inspirational Homeschooling: www.inspirationalhomeschooling.com


 

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