Time management is crucial for a homeschooling family. There is a lot at stake when you are teaching your children at home, so you need structure to ensure each day is as productive as possible. How do you ensure productivity on a daily basis? The following five tips will help you figure that out for your family.
1. Stick to a written schedule, but keep the schedule fluid.
You should have a basic schedule to ensure you accomplish everything that must be accomplished on a daily basis. Writing the schedule down forces you to think about how much time different tasks take how all of your obligations will best flow together.
The key is to keep the schedule fluid, which means it will change as needed. For example, if you schedule an hour for math lessons during the week and your child continually struggles to finish in that period of time, you may need to expand the time allotted to that lesson for that child. If you try to stick to one schedule without flaws you will grow frustrated and set yourself up for failure. It is best to have a basic schedule in place with an open mind to adjustments when necessary.
The time frames set for each task on your schedule must be realistic if the schedule is to work for your family. Adjust if you continually fail to stick to a time limit on a certain task. It is easier to allot more time than to stress out over hurrying things along to keep on schedule. Remember, the schedule should help you get everything done without stressing you out.
Make sure the kids are involved with the schedule as well. Each child may have their own schedule or task list so they can move through their own responsibilities independently. Just keep that open mind to make adjustments if they are struggling to stick to the schedule in certain areas or their needs change with time.
2. Eliminate small distractions that eat away your time.
How many times a day do you or your children check Facebook or email? How much time do you spend talking on the phone with friends and relatives? These are all things that should be contained to select times of the day because they will eat away most of your day without you even realizing that time was wasted. Pay attention to these time wasters for a few days, and then set limitations to get them under control.
For instance, you may permit Facebook and email checks at a certain time each morning and evening, with no checks allowed in between. If phone calls distract you during the day, do not answer it at inconvenient times. You can check your voice mails to ensure a missed call was not urgent and call people back at a designated time of day. When all else fails, turn off the ringers.
3. Plan lessons yearly, rather than weekly.
Homeschooling demands you spend some time planning lessons, and that means getting to know the curriculum you will present to your children and deciding how and when it will be presented. Start by planning the curriculum for a year, and then break it down into lesson plans for each month and each week. Finally, develop daily lesson plans. This takes time upfront, but advance planning means you have to think less about lessons on a daily basis. It also means your children are guaranteed to learn what you want them to learn by the end of the year. If you are just winging it week by week, you spend far too much time planning lessons and you risk not meeting your monthly and yearly curriculum goals. Just remember to stay flexible and make changes as needed. With children, there will be adjustments, but the advanced planning will save time in the long run.
4. Open yourself to the input of your children.
Time management in a homeschooling environment should involve the kids. Hold meetings once a week and ask for their input on the schedule, their curriculum, and other issues affecting their lives. Stay open to make changes to their schedules and your own to accommodate the needs of each child. You never know when a child may have a brilliant solution to something that is causing chaos or disorganization in the home.
Children are also more willing to go along with schedules when they know their voice was heard when creating the schedule. Plus, your children know their own feelings better than you do. If one child says she cannot focus on math before lunchtime, try scheduling that lesson right after lunch rather than first thing in the morning. Give away some control, and you will receive greater cooperation.
5. Teach your children to do more, so you can do more.
This is probably the most important tip for time management in a homeschooling environment. When you plan your schedules, you can either have one schedule where you do everything for everyone, or you can have multiple schedules that allow each member of the family to accomplish their own goals simultaneously. When you do it all you get very little accomplished each day. When everyone accomplishes their own goals, you get an amazing amount of productive work done every single day.
Teaching children to do the dishes, the laundry, and other household tasks is just as important as teaching a math lesson or practicing spelling words. This is how you ensure your home is productive and well-organized, but it is also how you ensure your children are well-rounded and ready for the world beyond homeschooling.