It’s an age-old dilemma: for generations, parents have been struggling to manufacture (without success at time of print) additional increments of time. The production of added time in the course of each day becomes especially meaningful when the homeschooling of our children is involved! But alas, according to scientists, we are forced to bend and fit our daily schedules, goals, and needs into one mere rotation of the earth on its axis. So how do we make the passage of time and homeschooling requirements work hand in hand – instead of against one another? Here’s our step-by-step approach.
Step 1. Consider Your Available Time
Realistically, please! Remember that you will still need to accomplish the items every ordinary parent handles in the course of a day, such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, health issues, appointments, and the general drama and conflict that erupts on a daily basis when children and teens are concerned. You need to budget a slot of time for these items, even if your laundry pile is manageable, as issues will surely creep upon you without fail.
If the realization that children enrolled in the public system spend nearly 8 hours of each day engaging in the “school process” gives you cold sweats, fear not. Some estimates conclude – if you subtract the time involved in bus rides, recesses, lunches, walking in hallways and visiting lockers, electives like gym and art, study halls, roll calls, and the general passing out of papers – a child schooled in a public system may only receive about one hour of valuable learning time (where information is actually absorbed) a day. That’s a number you can trounce in a heartbeat!
Tip: Check around online to find out how much time other successful homeschool families are budgeting time – but remember that each child is different!
Step 2. Consider Your Approach
Your approach is going to be affected by the number of children in your family, their ages, and their learning speeds and abilities. There is just no set formula to figuring out exactly how needs will be met before you get totally immersed in homeschooling. But the beauty of homeschooling is – it’s flexible!
Younger children learning to read and write are going to require a more intensive approach with the need for larger time increments with more built-in breaks. Older children will require a greater number of outside resources and direction, but should be able to self-direct to a significant degree. Children with disabilities or special learning needs require a different approach, and you may need some outside help too.
To get a realistic grip on what the best approach for your family will be, you must fully understand how much time it will take you to complete a number of tasks. Many parents fall into the daily trap of underestimating this figure. Even if you are only cutting yourself short on a task by ten minutes, if you complete 15 tasks a day – you are going to come up 2.5 hours short!
Tip: Take a full week to note – and write down – how long your child needs to complete specific assignments, such as spelling lists or math tables. Average the figures, then be sure to tack on a few extra minutes for good measure!
Step 3. Consider Your Priorities
Get out that curriculum well in advance, and take the time to really pull it apart – ALL of it. Start with you biggest goals, and then work backwards. Beginning with the year in general, list all subjects, coursework, service activities, and projects necessary to complete the year. For each course, develop a list of monthly goals (ie. amount of tests, reading, worksheet pages, hours of service, etc).
Continue onward, breaking each month down into weeks, before finally arriving at your daily schedule.
Working backwards puts the emphasis on the big goals, and not the individual time increments, which can help to prevent over-scheduling and the needless spinning of your wheels.
Remember that meals, breaks, outdoor activities, special interests, and social groups are a significant part of the homeschool process as well. They should be officially entered into your daily schedule as items of importance. You can shuffle the when, where, and how, but don’t leave them out (or underestimate their allotment by ten minutes!)
Tip: Treat yourself to an over-sized activities planner BEFORE you begin your budgeting/planning process. It will become your best friend and personal assistant!
Step 4. Consider When To Relax
With time being the unrelenting task-master that it always is, a good bit of stress from the homeschooling commitment is inevitable. We often begin to doubt our capabilities, our patience, and our organization. Failure to meet goals, no matter how small, will wear you down over time. At some point (much as with parenting), homeschooling will become about “when to just let it roll off your shoulders.”
You may also feel guilt about your child not being involved enough with district sports teams and activities. But the truth is, many public school children are suffering due to the fact that parents become obsessed with the success of their child in school sports to the extent that grades falter, self-esteem is damaged (or over-inflated), and a child is taught the wrong kind of sportsmanship altogether.
Tip: Remember that a solid moral background and the academic self- confidence to succeed in college and the job market is going to outplay Little Johnny’s star pitching in the long haul – hands down.
Homeschooling is ultimately about embracing values, creativity, and the LOVE of learning – and not about watching the clock tick away to feel like you’ve accomplished a task. To be sure you don’t fall into the age-old parent trap of faulty time management, don’t doubt yourself. You CAN do this!
Jessica Parnell is passionate about homeschooling. A wife, mother and former public high school teacher, Jessica has transferred this passion into her career as Principal of Bridgeway Homeschool Academy. Her passion grows out of a deep desire to see every child reach their God given potential and purpose through faith-based, customized, and flexible homeschooling. With over 25 years of experience helping over 24,000 families to homeschool their way, Jessica is dedicated to helping families understand the freedom that comes with homeschooling and to empowering parents, a child's first teacher, to feel confident in taking control of their child's education. www.homeschoolacademy.com
Publication date: June 13, 2014