Planning the Perfect Homeschool Day
I’ll start Monday. Yes, Monday is a good day to start things anew. It is the best time to start a new diet or a new routine for exercise, better eating or early morning devotions. Best of all, Monday is the day I will, once again, dive into my planner and set a course for the “perfect” homeschool day. My children will delightfully acknowledge and properly respond to my wishes, yes, on Monday that is. For today it is Tuesday, and so I will start next Monday.
Have you ever had that conversation with yourself? Best intentions in mind, you start out on Monday and, by the very next day, things have already fallen out of sorts and you are justifying why you should wait until the following Monday to start anew. Even the best of schedulers struggle when the routine falls apart and you’re not sure what to do to fix the problem. It’s often so much easier to just put it off for another week.
What About Tomorrow?
As a young mother of three little girls, our home would not be complete without all three VHS videos of Anne of Green Gables. Tea party table set up, delicate cookies to snack on, and dressed up like princesses, the girls and I would spend the afternoon on Prince Edward Island.
I’ll never forget the moment I heard the statement from Ms. Stacy, “Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it . . . well with no mistakes in it yet.”
The thought had not occurred to me before. Tomorrow is always the best time to start anew, try it again, and give it another go. So why do we put off the tomorrow for the next Monday?
One of my favorite authors, Martin Lloyd Jones, a minister of the early twentieth century, stated it best:
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [the Psalmist in Psalm 42] was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul has been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.’ Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have had but little experience.
Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart, and even with the best intentions our schedules and routines can end up in the ditch. What to do? Tell yourself to start again tomorrow. Yes, it’s as simple as that.
Not sure how to start?
Here’s an easy yet effective tool that I have used as I have planned, failed, evaluated, and then planned again.
Get out a pencil and a piece of paper and take your schedule back to the very basic necessities. On the vertical jot down the times of the day, from the moment your feet hit the floor until it’s night-night time, in increments of thirty minutes. On the horizontal, begin outlining the most important part of the day: meals! You gotta feed the kiddos if you expect to have any type of order. Next, jot down any commitments outside the home like piano, soccer, baseball, drama, co-op, etc. Only add what is absolutely required, and commit to focusing on that while you get your schedule back in order.
Reconsider the Extras
You are almost ready to re-evaluate the homeschooling portion of your day. But first, stop for a moment and just stare. Stare hard and let it sink in, asking yourself this important question: Am I over-scheduling myself before adding our schooling to the schedule? Is that why things are falling apart?
As homeschooling has become mainstream, it has also become more convoluted with a plethora of available activities. Socialization, exercise, and outings are important and have their place, but the primary purpose of education is . . . drum roll please, you don’t want to miss it . . . education. That’s right, if you are homeschooling, it’s pretty important to actually school the kids. If the obligations are crowding out the necessities, don’t move forward until you’ve re-evaluated those outside commitments to see how you might whittle them down.
The Homeschool Schedule
Okay, I am now stepping off my soapbox and back to that pencil and paper. Getting back to the horizontal, revisit the academics and consider whether or not they need a change. Would it help to assign the most difficult and time consuming subjects first, then proceed to the remaining subjects? Remember to leave room for breaks and cuddling time over a good book on the couch. Sometimes those snuggles are the best prescription for getting a schedule back on track.
The next morning, your tomorrow, post the schedule on the fridge and give it a try. As you go, you will see where additional adjustments can and should be made. It’s not set in stone! Your investment at this point is a piece of paper and a pencil, and anything can be juggled.
In the evening, get a fresh piece of paper and try again, including your adjustments. Try again and, in a few days, if needed, make a few more adjustments. Days turn into weeks, and weeks into months.
Children grow, schedules change, and life throws you a curve ball every so often, but in the end, implementing a successful day (okay, we’ll try for a decent day) of homeschooling is as simple as a piece of paper, a pencil, and a tomorrow.
Do you get easily knocked off track, even when you have a good schedule in place? You’re not alone! Many planners love to create a schedule but need a little motivation to get it done. Our Planner Personality Quiz can help you better understand that aspect of your personality and guide you to resources that will help you start fresh every day!