Homeschooling and raising children is hard work! That’s for sure. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it. After years of making life harder for myself than it’s had to be, I’ve learned some tips that simplify your life, and make your home school far more enjoyable and impactful.
Establish a morning routine.
Routines put your morning (and day) on autopilot. Having a routine allows your children to be independent. Keep in mind that you will have to train them to follow the routine for a few weeks. But after this initial investment of time, your kids will be on their own. These routines free your mind from having to make so many decisions, which leave cognitive reserve for solving math problems, having great discussions, dealing with bad attitudes, and other unexpected difficulties during the day.
The most important thing you can do for your morning routine is to get up at least 30 minutes before your children for quiet reflection. This time can be spent praying, reading, meditating, or taking a refreshing walk. This is the time that you need prepare for the work of the day. You may even want to spend a few minutes looking over the days calendar, to see what you can expect for the day. (This is so important that I’m going to write a separate post to help you with this.)
Do the most important activities first.
Once you’ve crossed the most important item off your list, you can breath a sigh of relief. Even if the rest of the day is filled with unexpected interruptions and nothing else gets done, you know that ONE THING was accomplished. First,you actually need to decide what’s MOST important. All activities aren’t equally important.
We start with the most important activity (bible reading and prayer) first, then complete the hardest activity (math) second.
Small daily habits reap BIG benefits.
Is there a skill that you would like to develop in your children? Is there a new habit that you want to develop? Start really small, in order to stay consistent, then gradually increase over time. In order to start your child writing, you could start with one simple sentence per day. That develops the habit of writing, and it helps them to overcome the resistance to writing. Perhaps you want to start exercising more regularly. Commit to a 5 minute workout rather than a 30 minute workout.
Simplify as much as possible.
Have the same lunch and breakfast for the entire week, and make it easy. Pick out your clothes for the week or have your kids wear a “uniform”. This is actually hard for me. I like being spontaneous, and I get bored with doing the same things daily. But here’s the deal. I only have so much creativityand energy to give on any given day. I can choose to use up my energy with trivial tasks, like meals and cleaning, or I can choose to invest my energy in relationships, and creative exploration. Any decision-making that you are able to eliminate, frees up cognitive energy for the things that are most important to you.
I choose to minimize the time I spend on tasks, so that I might invest lavishly on relationships.
Take frequent short breaks.
A good guideline is 45 minutes of work and 15 minutes of free play. Schools in Sweden have found this schedule to work well with students. Students are more focused during their lessons, knowing that a break is coming soon. I’ve found this to be the case with my own children and the students that I teach. Experiment with this and see how it works for your children.
Use a timer.
Using a timer is a great way to keep your children focused on their work. They know when to move onto another assignment or take a break. Before we started using a timer, we would go on and on with a lesson. The kids were less focused, which meant it took twice as long to get things done. Because I’m not good with keeping track with time, it also keeps us from having to guess about how long a child has been working.
Study fewer subjects with greater depth.
Trying to do too much is the perfect way to burn yourself out, and to ensure that you do nothing well. Decide what skills, and/subjects you want to focus on, and spend your time studying in depth. 3-4 subjects is plenty. Fewer may be even better. Give yourself permission to do less, so that you can actually accomplish MORE.
Accept that you can’t do it all, nor are you supposed to.
We live in a time when we can do so much. There are so many choices. We can’t do it all, but we can do what we’re supposed to do. I am completely convinced that we have enough time, energy, and resources to do ALL that our Creator purposed for us to do. The problem is that we allow other people’s agendas to dictate what we should be doing. We DON’T have enough time to fulfill our own personal agendas and everyone elses.
Allow Jesus’s words to a busy Martha be His words to you today:
My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned obout. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.
What’s the ONE THING you plan to focus on this year?
How have you simplified your homeschool?
Please share in the comments below.