Creating a Flow That Works
Homeschooling has its own set of unique challenges. One begins with a cup of caffeine and endless games of Poppit! But I digress.
Structuring your day has stumped many homeschool parents. It takes constant tweaking, pulling of hair, and the aforementioned caffeine and games of Poppit! What seems to work in one instance suddenly becomes a wall sure to leave a trail of asphalt splinters in your skin.
It’s frustrating to find your masterpiece to be a fridge-worthy copy of scribbling your toddler is sure to be proud of—as long as she doesn’t have to nap at precisely 10a.m. Time to scratch out that line.
The first key to successfully creating a flow that works is to maintain a spirit of flexibility. You have that one mastered, right? Curriculum choices surely make that skill honed.
The word “schedule” needs to be eliminated from your vocabulary. Just chuck it. It’s too rigid for the craziness of life as a homeschooler. Replace it with “routine,” which in the words of a homeschooler pretty much means, “a basic idea of what you’re going to do that day, but you’re not entirely sure—but we’ll go with it for now.”
On the wall of my classroom, I’ve posted a schedule . . . err, routine of subjects to be tackled that day. It goes like this:
12:00 Language Arts (all other)
School begins not so promptly at 8 a.m. The first two subjects my son and daughter do independently of each other with one or the other using my laptop for their self-paced history course. Now, my son tends to dawdle; so he’ll usually go over the time allotted for history by about ten minutes. Not a problem. We’re flexible, right?
Some subjects take more or less time depending on that day’s lesson. Although we end lessons by 12:30, my kids usually haven’t finished some of that day’s work. Rather than roll it into the next day’s lesson, I stick any unfinished work into a color-coded folder labeled “homework.”
My kids have quiet time in their room between 8 and 10 p.m. This is the perfect time for dawdlers to catch up on the day’s lessons rather than spend time on their tablet. It gives them incentive to try harder the next day.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with time management or lack of it, just jot down the subjects you’d like to cover on what days and how much time you can devote to lessons. If a particular subject takes longer, allot more time. Pair it with a subject that takes less. That way you can easily “borrow” time and still be in the black.
Another idea we’ve incorporated into our household is adding in a block of time after dinner for certain activities. We felt convicted over the amount of time spent watching TV in the evening. And rather than watch what my husband and I wanted to watch, the kids would go off and play or go to their rooms. Family time that we never could get back was lost.
To remedy this, I came up with a chart with a different activity for every day of the week. It goes something like this:
Sunday Bible Study
Monday Arts & Crafts
Tuesday Science Projects
Wednesday Music/Hymn Study
Thursday Tae Kwon Do
Friday Movie & Pizza Night
Saturday Family Game Night
Now, we’re still working on perfecting this schedule . . . err, routine but we’ve got four out of seven down to an art form. Can you see where school bleeds over? I didn’t have time to include art, music, and science projects during the day, and I wanted to keep Saturday free for other things.
It’s amazing the places you can carve out time. Be brutally honest with the way you manage it. I know it’s hard to give up especially when you just want to relax and veg out. But in the long run, you won’t regret it. It will bring your family closer.
Part of creating a flow that works is learning to be creative and at the same time sacrificing the status quo. If I could sleep in and stay up all night, I’d do it. But as a homeschooling mom, I need to focus on reorganizing my priorities—at least for this season.
And don’t be afraid to mix it up. Write out daily lesson plans, not weekly or monthly. Things come up. Some days sickness invades the home. Other days you just want to get out and do something fun. Even if it’s playing outside on a warm, sunny day. Keep to daily lesson plans and you’ll fend off frustration and feelings of failure. Take one day at a time and enjoy life!
It’s good to have basic plans and goals. But don’t get caught up in specifics if you struggle with managing your time. It will only suck the life out of you. Enjoy your kids. Learn to be flexible and find creative ways to add time back into your school. After all, homeschooling is life. Live it!
Cheryl L. Stansberry is a Reformed Christian (OPC) writer with a desire to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of the people. She homeschools her four children out on the eastern plains of Colorado.
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord ~ Joshua 24:15b