As a homeschool parent you juggle teaching, housework, cooking, shopping, loving your family, and working from home daily! Perhaps you want to be better at time management, but you don’t know where to start. Time management is not as far out of reach as you might think. Here are a few tips you can implement into your routine to help you manage your schedule better.
One of the most common questions homeschool families have is, how do you stay organized? Homeschooling involves so much, and you can’t store all of it in a bin at the end of the day. Finding a method of staying organized can be key in reducing stresses you don’t need. But figuring out how to get yourself organized can be a lot like choosing a curriculum and homeschooling style. What works for one family may not work for you. We’d like to offer both experienced and new homeschool families a collection of tips, tricks, and techniques to help you be successful and stay organized in your homeschool.
So you’ve been thinking about this homeschooling thing for a while now. In fact, you’ve probably been doing a lot more than thinking. You’ve prayed, done the reading, had family conversations, and set some goals. You’ve even looked at curriculum. But are you ready? How do you know if you are? This homeschool checklist will help you decide whether you’re ready to take the plunge.
Have you checked your state’s regulations for homeschooling?
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) explains which regulations apply to your state. Some states merely require parents to give notice that they intend to homeschool their children. Others may require homeschoolers to perform annual standardized testing to make sure that children are learning normally. You’ll want to know these requirements ahead of time.
Have you laid out your reasons for homeschooling?
Remember, it’s easier to commit to something when you know why you’re doing it. Consider writing out your reasons and displaying them—if nothing else, that will help you explain to a concerned friend or relative why you’re doing this.
Where will you turn for homeschool support?
Your homeschool support system can help you stay on your feet even on the hardest of days. Whether it’s just a chat with a friend or an expert to address your darkest fears, you’re going to need someone to turn to.
How much time will you devote daily to homeschooling?
Many homeschool families have their children do work between four and five hours a day. That’s both lesson time and homework. But what about you? How many hours do you have to devote to homeschooling your children? If you don’t have much time to devote to it, you may need to choose a curriculum that includes video lesson options or that can be self-taught. Or you can devise a schedule that lets you spread out your work. You could homeschool year-round or choose a six-day homeschool schedule, so you can spend less time each day on homeschooling.
What are your children interested in?
Many new homeschoolers are really excited about getting to tailor their children’s education to their interests. Now’s the time to really figure out what those interests are so you can be ready to do that.
What best describes the curriculum that you believe will work for your family?
Are you homeschooling on a tight budget? Do you have the budget but not the time to teach? Assuming you believe a strong biblical worldview is vital, should you use a curriculum built on that perspective or will a secular publisher do just as well? Do you prefer to do the teaching yourself, or would you rather use video lessons? These are all questions that will help you narrow down your curriculum choices.
How will you keep yourself organized?
It’s a challenge to manage all the stuff. If you have three kids, all in elementary grades, then they each have up to eight subjects. Each subject has two textbooks—usually a textbook and an activity book. That’s forty-eight textbooks—not counting any teacher editions, notebooks, binders, and whatever else they need. And it’s not only a question of space. What about organizing your time? The plan you have now doesn’t have to be permanent, but you need a workable schedule to at least get you started.
Have you laid out some short-term goals for your first few weeks of homeschooling?
Goals are pretty important, especially at the beginning. If you set a few easily reachable goals to start with, you can get off on the right foot and put yourself in a goal-oriented mindset for the future. Your goals don’t even have to be really serious. You could set a goal to finish one lesson a day, or to walk around the house like a duck once a day. That’s silly, but it’s good exercise too.
Use this printable checklist to work through some of the questions above.
Hopefully, you’re feeling confident and ready to get started on your homeschooling journey. Your first few years are going to be wild and crazy (plus moments that you wouldn’t trade for the world). But if at the end of it all, your children have a strong relationship with God and are using the abilities He’s given them for His glory, won’t it be worth it all?
The summer marches on, and we’re one step closer to starting the school year back up again. Have you begun thinking about your homeschool space setup? Whether you have a dedicated schoolroom, a homeschooling corner, or just freestyle it wherever the books fall, here are some ideas to consider.
Keeping homeschool supplies condensed
Janelle Knutson shares a tour of her homeschool room, where she keeps most of her supplies condensed on three bookshelves. This way, she can have her homeschool space wherever those shelves are. The majority of her materials for four of her children, plus some toddler toys, fit on these three shelves.
Giving the kids their own homeschool space
Erica’s dedicated homeschool room at Confessions of a Homeschooler could be an inspiration to homeschool moms everywhere. Her children have their own desks, and although the furniture is identical, the children’s personalities show up in how they decorate their desks. Even though this setup is intended for a dedicated homeschool room, you could make this work without a room. Those desks really could go anywhere in your home.
Cutting down on distractions
Lara at Everyday Graces found a need for eliminating distractions when one of her boys was diagnosed with ADHD. She even simplified how she decorated her walls! You may love filling your kids’ bedrooms with fun colors and cute decorations, but that may not be the best option for wherever you homeschool, even without ADHD. In the end, Lara wound up with a much calmer, simpler room that made learning easier.
How have you set up your homeschool space? We’d love to see it!
It’s that time of day again. The kids are starting to whine and grumble. They’re getting hungry, and it’s only a matter of time before chaos ensues. You throw open the fridge or pantry, desperately looking for something that you can cook quickly—something that even your picky eaters will like—but it seems you never have the right ingredients on hand.
What if you could spare yourself the stress of last-minute meals and make your grocery shopping process much easier? Meal planning is a way to have less stress (and more money since you’re not spending extra dollars on takeout or impulse buys at the grocery store). Here are some meal-planning tips from real moms to get you started.
• Create a monthly meal schedule
Take the advice of homeschool mom Erica and decide in advance what you and your family are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for thirty days. Monday could be cereal for breakfast, sandwiches and fruit for lunch, and spaghetti with garlic bread for dinner. Tuesday could be pancakes for breakfast, leftover spaghetti for lunch, chicken broccoli casserole for dinner, and so on. If a month feels like too much, start by planning out the meals for just one week. Having a plan trims your grocery list to the essentials and takes the mealtime decision-making off your mind.
• Have fun with the plan
One way to make your meal plan more interesting is to create themed days or weeks. One week could feature Mexican foods; another might highlight Italian or Asian cuisine. You could also give each day of the week a theme, like Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, and so on. Ask your kids to help you brainstorm the themes for each week, or let them plan all the meals for one day every month.
• Make multiple meals at once
Set aside an afternoon or an evening to cook several meals at one time. You can make casseroles and freeze them, or double your recipe for soup or chili so you’ll have leftovers for a few nights. Make a lot of pasta and divide it into smaller containers for lunches. If you’re just cooking up some chicken or ground beef, brown an extra pound or two and freeze it; that’s time saved on another day. This tip is courtesy of Kim, busy homeschool mom and blogger at NotConsumed.com.
• Give your food budget a makeover
Every homeschool family could use a little spare change in their food budget, and meal planning can help with that. If you’re looking to do ultra-cheap meal planning, check out $5DollarDinners.com, a resource packed with inexpensive recipes that are crowd-pleasers for the whole family. Erin Chase runs the website and shares her grocery budget makeover ideas with interested moms and dads. You can even sign up for her free weekly newsletter.
• Allow yourself some takeout time
You can still eat takeout occasionally or visit your favorite restaurant. Just be sure that you include your weekly pizza night or monthly visit to the local seafood restaurant in your meal plan. After all, you’re saving money with a meal plan; there’s nothing wrong with eating out once in a while.
Remember, modern dads and moms have plenty of kitchen help, thanks to microwaves, freezers, dishwashers, slow cookers, electric grills, vegetable steamers, and rice cookers. Use those tools to save time as you plan ahead and prepare tasty, affordable meals for your family.
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Rebecca is a work-at-home freelance writer, novelist, wife, and the mom of two bright-eyed little ones. She credits her success in writing and her love of books to her own mom, who homeschooled three kids from pre-K through high school.