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5 Daily Disciplines for a Successful Homeschool Day

If you’re like me, January is a time of getting back to work after a nice break for the holidays. I have noticed that with our homeschool there seems to be a natural cycle of learning–times for breaks and times for more focused study.  Sometimes it is difficult to get back to doing school, and I find that these 5 Daily Disciplines really aid me in a successful school day as well as managing the day-to-day demands in the home.

1. Follow the routine.

You have probably designed the perfect schedule for your school day. Instead of being too specific about times, I have found it most beneficial to look at your day as if it were a book shelf. For example, look at the morning routine and the bedtime routine as the bookends of your day. They are essential. They support everything that happens between them. Your other activities are the the books on the shelf between them. Some days you may not “read” every book between them. Some “books” or subjects of the day may be larger or take more time than others. It may seem silly but I have found this analogy helpful because it takes the stress out of a rigid schedule and pretty accurately represents my colorful homeschool day. I would add that it is best to try to go in the same order each day. Order of subject is more important than timing because it helps kids know what to expect and will aid you in less struggle. Try not to add too many unexpected assignments–especially for special needs kids.
 Homeschool Tip* Make a block schedule for your day instead of using times. For ex. Block 1 – Math, Block 2 – English, etc.

2. Limit activities and commitments.

I am as guilty of this as anyone–probably more. Some of us thrive on it. And it may be good for us, but we need to ask ourselves if it’s good for the school day too. That’s why I have to take special precautions to be careful not to over-commit. Running too much gets me distracted and then I don’t get anything accomplished. I minimize this by taking Fridays off for appointments such as grocery shopping and trips to the doctor or dentist. This works best for me, but you need to find what works for your family. It is truly a balance between too much activity and not enough.  I know moms who homeschool three weeks and take a week off each month to do what they have to do around the home. If you haven’t already, with time you will find what works for you.
 Homeschool Tip* Schedule extracurricular activities for children together or possibly on the weekend or afternoon. Or take one day off a week and do a four-day schedule.

3. Dishes, bathrooms, laundry.

Housework is tough for anyone. Add homeschooling, and you got two full time jobs! Sometimes we just need to let things go.  That’s true because we just can’t do everything. But a clean house is important to me so I find that if I just focus on these three areas my house stays pretty clean. Anyone else in the family can help dust, vacuum, take out the trash, etc. Staying focused on just these three main necessities really helps.
Homeschool Tip*  Don’t be a perfectionist. Chores are great for kids and teach them responsibility.

Electronics are here to stay.

4. Monitor the use of electronics.

These can be huge distractions for us and our kids! Isn’t it typical that the minute you’re on the phone little Johnny stops doing his grammar and sneaks out the Gameboy? This is something we can’t get away from. Electronics are here to stay! So we must find our own methods of dealing with the challenges we face with multiple children and multiple devices in our home. Some moms eliminate them all together. And that is totally acceptable. But for some of us that may be too drastic. We use our computers and readers to do some of our subjects each day. So I have to say that what works best for me is presence. Being completely present with my child during the homeschool day may not always be possible, but keeping a close eye most the time sure pays off in the end.
Homeschool Tip* Passwords are a must and it’s ok to have them on your kids’ devices too, if one has been bought for them. Time constraints and designated off-limit times are appropriate.

Lastly,

5. Focus on the family meal Monday thru Thursday.

This is a big deal. I know it seems that it should be so simple that it would go without saying. But cooking meals takes a great deal of planning and preparation, even simple meals. I believe the time and effort does pay off. Especially for larger families and homeschoolers. The economic benefits are obvious, but I also believe there are less obvious ones. For some reason when we are not eating out, at least during the school week, things just flow better. It is easier for us to follow our routine and everyone is happier. Of course sometimes you just have to eat out, but it really helps to bring everyone together and I think that helps homeschool days be successful.
One more Homeschool Tip* Keep it simple. Simpler meals are often healthier and easier. In addition, though it may not be great for the environment all the time, keep paper plates and cups on hand for that crazy bad homeschool day.

Stephanie Harrington
Stephanie has been a military spouse for 18 years and is a homeschool mom of 12+ years. She is mom to three creative kids from college grad down to fifth grade. Her homeschool style is eclectic with Charlotte Mason and classical influences. She and her husband of 22 years serve and live wherever the US Army sends them. She also shares her homeschool and life experiences on her other blogs,Harrington Harmonies and Eucharistic Life. When she isn't teaching, writing or moving she enjoys sightseeing, gardening, and cooking.
Stephanie Harrington
Stephanie Harrington

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Comments

  1. Such a good list and not to hard to do. The only thing I add is for me to wake up an hour earlier than mine to get the house ready for me to concentrate. If it’s picked up then, that’s time for me to have time for just what I want to do.

  2. I loved your take on things and I loved these tips! It’s not about perfectionism. I need a realistic approach to all of this too. Homescholling and Housekeeping are tough to juggle! http://www.themommymess.com/2013/01/my-housekeeping-tips-how-to-just-barley-get-by.html

  3. Dreamgyrl360 says:

    The electronics are a major problem. I wish we never bought the Wii OR the ipad.
    AND I keep running out of paper plates and paper cups!! *sigh*

    Good article!

  4. This is exactly the motivation I was looking for! I am homeschooling my five year old for the first time. This is our first day back from holidays and man was it rough… for both of us! Thank you for posting this.

  5. I like how you said that you should pick 3 main things and focus on them. I think this will help me. The house is scarry sometimes. Yikes:)

  6. I have found that having a schedule of when I should do certain tasks helps me to get them done. For instance I schedule what I should do each day and for weekly chores I split them up over 6 days. It makes for a very balanced chore schedule. I do the same thing for my kids. I agree with you on all other accounts, but I suppose since I am a perfectionist I can’t focus on school if my house isn’t clean. :) Also, I have found that when I let the little things go they start to build up and then it becomes a bigger job then it would have been. For us, our brains match whatever the house looks like. I love what you said about being present and not doing too much running. I am totally with you there. If I am not present then neither are my children. My attitude seems to get passed on as well. If I am having an off day or not in the mood to do school it rubs off on my kids. Anyhow, thanks for writing a thougtful article, and sharing your homeschool tips with us. I enjoyed reading it and reflecting.

  7. One thing that I have done since we began homeschooling back in 1999 is to put out the books for the day in a pile. As we do each subject they get put back. It works for me as it helps me see that we are progressing in getting work done for the day.
    I am the over committed mom. It used to be others running me all over, but now it’s me. I have chosen to join things such as sewing club at church, a stitch group, quilt guild, and a coupon group. When I have these things my daughter has on-the-go workbooks that we keep in the van. Plenty of them to choose from! She also has her laptop and the SW Advantage software to work with as well.
    I don’t want to talk about the state of our home right now. My biggest goal this year is totally de-clutter and reorganize. There are only certain things that always stay in the same place, and one of those is our schoolwork.

  8. Great advise Wendy, Thank you so much,Angie

  9. Billie Jean says:

    In relation to keeping up with the house, I use a planner from theconfidentmom.com . This is my second year with it and it has made a big difference in both how my house looks and my level of sanity. I’m not a “clean the whole house at once” person because let’s face it, I don’t have 3-4 hours on any one day to so it and with 3 kids/2 dogs underfoot I can’t get it to stay that way long enough for the floor to dry. This planner splits out the tasks so the house gets cleaned and you don’t forget monthly tasks. knowing I have 5 or 6 things to do each day makes it manageable.

  10. June Combs says:

    This is only my second yr homeschooling and my son is in 10th grade (introvert) (I have a 6th grader in a brick & mortor school). Do these rules apply to us too? Sometimes I get him started and have coffee or lunch with a friend. He only once did not get his work done but I have guilt. Also electronics are an issue? Do you know a blog for homeschooling teens?

  11. These tips are great. I am especially keen on 2 and 3. I am sooo not in bondage to this idea that my kids have to be in every activity under the sun!! They are in one activity each and we are a part of a co-op. That is PLENTY to keep us busy!

    As for cleaning, I focus on my main living areas, kitchen and living room and my girls are about 80% responsible for the hall bathroom. They use it more than anyone else and make the biggest messes in there so that’s theirs until we are having visitors then Daddy takes the reigns. :)

  12. I feel like I’m always changing our schedule and trying to find better ways to make our school work fit. This year we do the weeks off often, including their birthday week, and around holidays, and have a year round schedule! We also take Fridays off! I love this, and it relieves so much stress! Now I don’t feel like we have so much work, and I get those much needed breaks! Hopefully this will continue to work for us! As you homeschool parents know, though, as life changes or plan tends to as well…

  13. Kathi Weiss says:

    I love these ideas. I know my son spends way too much time on electronic devices. I really need to limit him on this.

  14. To me the most challenging is transition. From one class to the next or from break time to class again. Help please! Any suggestions will be appreciated.

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