by Janny Jackson
Want to know the secret to having a smoother homeschool day, month, year?
PREP PREP PREP
Nothing comes easy. Especially when kids are involved. I am going on my fourth year of homeschooling and I have learned that the secret to starting off on the right foot is to plan ahead, and prepare everyone involved for what is to come. Which brings me to my first point.
Set The Expectations
What do you need to have a successful day? What expectations do you have for you kids for the day?
Do you expect them to wake up earlier, have chores done, beds made and teach brushed before you start school? This is something that needs to be discussed before the school year gets started. There are many families, especially with older kids, that start training a week or two before the school year starts so that everyone is waking up on time, knows what is expected of them, and mistakes and miscommunications can be corrected or cleared up while there is still a grace period, and before the school year gets really hectic.
Communication is key. Grace is key with little ones who need a little more hand holding through the routines of the day. We can’t expect our school days to go smoothly if the expectations for the day are not set beforehand.
Wake Up Earlier
Notice I didn’t say “before the kids”. Just this morning I woke up earlier than all of my littles to have some quiet time to get some chores done, and sure enough my youngest came downstairs before I could even sit down to have my coffee. Whether you wake up before of after your kids is specific to your situation and your schedule.
Waking up earlier, in general, will lead to a more productive day because you will have more time to get all the things done. I, personally, find that if I “sleep in” I feel very rushed to get our school day started and that throws off our morning routine, which in turn disturbs the expectations I have already set for myself and my kids, and then my day is frustrating and feels incomplete.
Our minds are refreshed and rested in the morning and if we set ourselves up to wake up just a little bit earlier one day at a time we can end up having smoother, more productive and less stressful school days.
Life hack: Take an hour or two on an evening you aren’t busy or on a day you aren’t schooling and do some bulk cooking or baking. This is one of my favorite ways to have a smoother morning for school days. My kids are old enough to grab some frozen muffins, waffles or pancakes from the freezer and microwave them for a quick and easy breakfast, which streamlines our morning routine and creates a smooth transition into our school time.
Stick To A Routine
When it comes to homeschooling, or even just the flow for the day, having a routine can make the day go by so much smoother.
Our routine for a normal school day is breakfast, chores, read alouds, group subjects, and then individual (one-on-one) subjects with me. Once our routine is established and in motion my kids know where they should be once one of these tasks are completed and it becomes an automatic part of their day.
Having a routine set in place lowers the chances of bad attitudes and resistance to your daily schedule.
Have A Visible Schedule/Routine
Do your kids constantly ask you all day long when something is going to happen?
You may need to create a visible routine or schedule for your kids to be able to see throughout the day. Whether it’s for chores or a schedule for your school day, just writing down tasks in the order in which they need to be completed and putting a blank box next to it to check off can do wonders for everyone involved. Everyone knows what comes next and what is expected so that there aren’t the continuous questions of what is next or things are not forgotten.
This simple method has the added bonuses of building independence and the feeling of accomplishment and pride in their work.
Know Your Limits
Are you multitasker? Are you able to do dishes, fold clothes, or order groceries while helping with school at the same time?
It has been said that multitasking isn’t really a thing because in actuality what you are doing is just shifting your focus from one task to another.
There is absolutely no pressure put on you more than what you put on yourself. What works for someone else may not work for you, and that’s okay! There is no need to do household tasks while schooling. It can wait. If it can’t wait, and it isn’t urgent, then you should have managed your time better and completed that task at a time other than when schooling should be getting done, according to the schedule you’ve created.
Remember, we have the responsibility of our children’s education in our hands when we choose to homeschool. Though it can be a beautiful experience, it can also become burdensome and heavy if we cannot separate our responsibilities from our school day. Creating lists and enlisting help where needed to complete your household task list when you are not schooling will help to keep your mind from becoming frazzled and unfocused while schooling.
Outsource Where Needed
You are not a superhero. Piggybacking off of my last point of knowing your limits, you can’t do it all. No one can. We see social media accounts of moms homeschooling their littles with all of their beautiful curriculums and books and often feel like we have to do everything by ourselves or else we aren’t true homeschoolers, and that’s simply not true. Not good at art? Outsource it. Don’t love history? Outsource it!
There are SO MANY resources available to us as homeschoolers to help us get it all done. Some curriculums do live lessons where your student can join a real class virtually and interact with others while learning. Others provide recorded lessons that your student can do at their own pace and use you for help as needed. And others have an automatic grading system that will check your student’s work as they go. Co-ops are a great tool to outsource classes as well if that is something you can afford and want to be a part of.
What matters is that your kids are learning. Whether it is a curriculum that you are facilitating or not, your homeschool day may go smoother if you outsource even just one subject.
Community. You Need It
I’m not just talking about friends. I’m talking about friends that also homeschool. Homeschooling offers a unique set of challenges and frustrations that we can often feel alone in if we don’t have anyone to talk to about them.
There have been many days that it has gone smoothly and seems easy. There have also been many days that have had me questioning whether or not I have made the right decision to homeschool and if this is what is best for my kids. What has really helped to ground me and get myself out of that negative cycle of thought has been talking to fellow homeschool moms that have had the same experiences and can relate to and comfort me in those fears I may have.
Whether you’re having a hard day or just need to bounce ideas off of someone else, or even to brag about your kid’s accomplishments, having a community that understands your unique situation is so important to having a smooth homeschool day and year.
What is an idea or practice you have in your homeschool that makes your days go smoother? Share it with us in the comments section below, and as always thank you for being here!