Welcome!  
I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Monday, May 27, 2013

10 Little Things That Can Make or Break My Homeschool Day

10 Little Things That Can Make or Break My Homeschool Day-The Unlikely Homeschool


I have to preface this little diatribe with a quick disclaimer...
This is a list of things that could "make or break" MY homeschool day.  Please remember that every homeschool is unique.  While MY day might run smoother with the help of these 10 "little things", someone else might find them non-essential.  I encourage you to use this list as a SUGGESTION not a DOCTRINE as you evaluate your homeschool day.  And in the end, determine what works or does not work FOR YOU.  
But I digress...


1.  I start my day with God as my Guide.

Admittedly, with many little ones groping for my attention each day, it can be difficult to set aside time to spend in the Word.  But I find that by devoting a few quiet moments with God each morning, I am able to face a harried homeschool schedule with a full tank...refreshed and focused with Christ's GRACE and TRUTH to guide me.  In addition, I am setting a good example for my children as they develop a habit of personal devotions in their own lives.

2.  I have a plan.

Typically, I make a skeletal plan of my entire school year by the time the first day arrives.  I, personally, find FREEDOM in a plan.  I don't need to waste brain cells each school day trying to "invent the wheel."  I just merely have to refer to "the plan" and add or detract as needed.  

3.  I begin each day the night before.

I have no desire to begin my day in a frantic panic.  I've always found it helpful to prepare for the homeschool day the night before.  I can make a smooth transition into the school morning knowing I am thoroughly prepared for the first lesson on the schedule.   Here's how I do that...

4.  I stick to a morning routine.

Good Morning Board has helped my children develop self-discipline.  I have no desire to nag my way through the morning.  By providing them with a list of morning routines that are age-appropriate, I only have to OVERSEE the morning happenings...I no longer have to dictate and micro-manage.

5.  I prep for dinner right after lunch.

Our typical homeschool day does not end until 5 o'clock in the afternoon which doesn't leave me much time to think about dinner.  By setting meat out to thaw or gathering and prepping certain dinner-time ingredients right after lunch, I am ensuring that I not only HAVE a dinner plan in place, but that I can quickly pull it all together right after school without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.   

6.  I encourage self-direction in my children.

It's physically impossible to teach four different subjects and grade levels at one time.  The laws of physics and sanity just won't allow it!  By providing my children with task cards, I am helping them to learn independence, self-motivation, and organization...three necessities of self-directed learning.

7.  I schedule homekeeping pauses into our day.

Disorder and clutter turns my mind into mush.  Although I recognize that there is going to be a certain level of MESS that is a natural part of a "lively" home, I also know that peace and tranquility can often ONLY be found in order.  So, I weave three quick homekeeping/cleaning pauses into our school day.  I place them at the natural STARTS and STOPS (right before school, right after lunch, and right after school) in order to provide a smoother, less-chaotic transition to "the NEXT."

8.  I mark off "learning territory."  

Because I believe learning and life should go together and that education should not be limited to ONLY one room, we do not have an actual homeschool classroom.  That being said, I do purpose to set our learning area apart in order that learning can actually take place.  Have you ever tried writing a research paper while someone is firing a sock missile at you?  Trust me...it can't be done!  The general rule of thumb in our house (excluding the baby, of course) is that if the learning is happening HERE (the dining room table, the kitchen floor, the couch, etc.) and you are not a part of the learning at this PRESENT moment, then you can not be HERE.  In other words, if you are on a break/free play time and your sibling is not, then respect him/her enough to take your play elsewhere.

9.  I schedule an extended afternoon break.

I'm often asked why I homeschool until 5 o'clock every evening when many homeschoolers keep to a traditional 3 o'clock quitting time.  Although there is MUCH method to my madness, the short answer is that I schedule a two-hour break in the middle of the day and those two hours are redeemed later on in the afternoon.  As I've mentioned before, the Hubs comes home for lunch every day.  To the best of my ability, I have made it a priority to set his HOUR-LONG lunch break apart as family time.  Since I have a larger-than-average sized household and because I prefer not to serve sandwiches every day, it takes me about 1/2 hour to make lunch.  After the Hubs heads back to work, the kids and I spend about 1/2 hour completing some afternoon chores (loading/unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the dining room floor, starting a load of laundry, etc.)...completing our 2-hour break and pushing our quitting time to 5 o'clock.  I'll admit that it's a bit unconventional, but then again...so is HOMESCHOOLING!

10.  I maintain flexibility.

While everything on this list would be filed under "the perfect homeschool day", I recognize that the PERFECT homeschool day comes along about as often as the "perfect hair day."  These "little things" make up my GOALS.  And although I don't necessarily meet my goals each and every day, I find direction...and therefor benefit...in having a goal.  The important thing is to maintain flexibility, so that when the day veers off the plotted course, learning can still take place and sanity can still be salvaged.  

What "little thing" would you add to this list?

19 comments:

  1. We must be on the same wave length as I sat with my coffee this a.m. trying to work out the summer schedule. thanks for this post, it reminded me I am on the right track and gave me some great practical ideas to try. Love the Good Morning board. Do you use task cards during summer? I have an odd summer ahead, as my eldest son will be doing high school. He wants to grad. early. My youngest son needs reading help and my daughter is eager to read. So we are continuing with some school. I don't want to fall into the TV/Ds trap, which leads to a lot of laziness. I almost need a schedule more in the summer than in the winter...odd I know. Great post.

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    1. No, we don't use Task Cards in the summer because our learning time looks much different. I will be writing about that soon. However, our summer days are QUITE busy with non-school activities so we don't have a lot of time for boredom. We live in a small town that becomes the vacation land for city-folk all summer long. It is a VERY busy place in the summer and provides so many fun happenings. But, I think if we didn't live here, I would be tempted to use Task Cards...only tweak them a bit for summer days.

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  2. We try to get the distractions out of the way too, but I also encourage my kids to spread out while they do school. We have enough space that when they need it, they should take it!

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    1. Yep! Totally agree. My oldest son especially loves doing his work on the kitchen floor. And that works great because then he has a lot of space to wiggle while he works...kinesthetic!

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  3. Thank you for this post. As a new homeschool mom I am OVERWHELMED!!! I can't even imagine planning for a week let alone a month! I look forward to exploring your ENTIRE blog for tips :) You are a great source of encouragement!

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    1. Aww...thanks for the kind words. {sheepish grin!} I'm glad you've joined me for the journey.

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  4. I love that you have that time in the middle of the day for a break, and of course, that your husband comes home for lunch each day!

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    1. Yes, I feel kind of spoiled that he can share our afternoon for an hour.

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  5. Flexibility..I struggle on that one.

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    1. I think I've HAD to become so flexible that I feel almost fluid at time. #homeschooling with little ones.

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  6. I love these. I'm looking forward to your upcoming posts on the scheduling subject too. About your morning board, do you have one for each school age child or do you just have one for all? Also, do you wake your kiddos up in the mornings?

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    1. We have one board that applies to everyone. The only mornings I have to actually wake my children up are Sunday mornings and co-op mornings when we have to be at a particular place by a particular time. Otherwise, they sleep until they wake up on their own which is usually somewhere between 7 and 8. The 2 TV show rule applies as soon as the TV gets turned on by the first child. If you wake up late and happen to miss the two shows, you're out of luck.

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  7. Thanks for the reply, Jamie. I don't wake my boys up either (except on Sundays too). I just love how you have a planned (but flexible :) ) day without having to wake them. I think I've used that as my excuse for not planning better. Thanks again. I really enjoy your blog.

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  8. I'm curious as to what your house cleaning routine is like. Do you have something different everyday?

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  9. This is very helpful to someone who will just be starting out homeschooling. I do graphic design from home, cook {almost} everything from scratch AND try to keep up with a vlog/blog of my own. {I greatly appreciate your hint for dinner prep!} I will be schooling my 2 boys {gr. 1 & 5} with the Abeka curriculum this coming year and we are excited, but I know I will need some organization to keep all the balls in the air even with just 2 students! So thank you for this guideline that gets the gears turning. :-)

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  10. We also take a longer than average lunch break. My hubby doesn't come home for lunch (wish he could) but I use that time to unload/load the dishwasher, do lunch, get dinner prepped and ready to go and snuggle and read with my two year old before her afternoon nap. One of the greatest things about homeschooling is the ability to set up our schedule so it works best for our needs.

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  11. My husband works second shift so we school during the hours he is home and then clean when he leaves for work

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  12. Greetings from Ontario, Jamie. I owe you a "thank you" for the wealth of helpful info and spot-on itemized lists that you faithfully provide on your blog. I am so encouraged by your writing and inspired by the emphasis that you place on good, er, "God"-quality literature to nourish our little ones' minds. Iron sharpens iron. May your blessings abound.

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  13. Greetings from Ontario, Jamie. I owe you a "thank you" for the wealth of helpful info and spot-on itemized lists that you faithfully provide on your blog. I am so encouraged by your writing and inspired by the emphasis that you place on good, er, "God"-quality literature to nourish our little ones' minds. Iron sharpens iron. May your blessings abound.

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