Do you ever get frustrated in your homeschooling day? Oh, I’m not talking about rethinking whether homeschooling is right for you. I’m talking about the day in and day out routine of homeschooling. Do you ever get frustrated? Stuck in a rut?
Wondering how something as wonderful as homeschooling keeps dissolving into tears, chaos, frustration, and overwhelm?
Do you ever feel like you’re trying to get through the school work you need to accomplish in a day and constantly failing? Or feeling like you’re pulling teeth just trying to get through the reading, writing, and math for the day?
Let’s face it: Homeschooling is amazing, but at times it just doesn’t feel like it! It’s a place we all hate, but a place we’ve all been, whether we want to admit it or not.
When tears, frustration, chaos, and overwhelm become your normal, it’s downright hard! So what do you do? How do you break out of the chaos and overwhelm and start to find a simpler, easier, and – dare I say – faster way to homeschool that comes with less tears?
Believe it or not, it is possible to create an environment to reduce frustration and overwhelm! It is possible to set yourself up for success with a few simple steps. Now, I’m not saying your days will all be perfect if you follow these 7 steps. You are working with humans, after all – as well as being one yourself! But, you can set yourself up to succeed and that, my Friend, is a huge piece of this homeschooling puzzle.
You see, when you take a few minutes to prepare for tomorrow today, you can set yourself up for success. Prep work can make or break a day before the day even begins. But what do you do? Prep work is great, but if you don’t know what to prepare, where do you start? Start right here…
#1 :: Create Your Game Plan the Night Before
This first step sounds so simple, but it’s so crucial. In fact, this first step, more than any other, is a total game-changer! Set aside 15 minutes to prepare for your homeschooling day tomorrow today. You see, one of the biggest things that can make or break your day before it even begins is having a game plan. And when you take a few minutes to plan before you get in the middle of it all, it’s much easier to think straight and it’s much easier to come up with your plan in the first place!
Now, don’t make this complicated! All you need is a big picture of what you want to accomplish tomorrow. And as you keep going reading, I’ll show you the exact steps you can take to make sure your game plan is clear to everyone. But before you can clearly tell others your plan for tomorrow, you need to know what the big picture looks like in your head!
It’s incredible how much calmer and more focused your day will be when you have your game plan in place the night before.
#2 :: Print and/or Copy All the Worksheets You’ll Need
Have you ever been going through your school day when you realized that you forgot to copy a worksheet? So, you leave your kids sitting at a table working on their school work while you walk to the printer in the next room to copy the needed worksheet for your child. 60 seconds later when you walk back to the table, you find the table empty. In that mere 60 seconds your children have all gotten up and scattered throughout the house! It’s incredible how fast they can scatter and get distracted isn’t it? And on top of that, it take another 5 to 10 minutes to get everyone’s attention back to keep working! That in and of itself is a recipe in frustration!
So how do you fix it? Believe it or not, there’s a super simple solution to this one: Print or copy all the worksheets you’ll need tomorrow the night before. You see, when you gather every printout you need before the school day begins, you’ll have everything right at your fingertips and you’ll stop the scattering before it even starts!
#3 :: Give Everyone Their Own List
As you get your game plan together for your homeschooling day and identify the worksheets you’ll need, create a list of school lessons and tasks each child needs to accomplish to complete their school day. Now, this might sound complicated, but it’s really quite simple. All you have to do is pull out a piece of paper for each child. Don’t forget to write their name at the top so you remember which list is for each child!
Start at the top of the page by writing down all the lessons you’ll do together. For example: “History lesson with mom” or “Science lesson with everyone.”
Underneath these, write the individual work each child will need to accomplish. For example, a math worksheet, handwriting work, or reading silently for 15 minutes. Once you write down all the tasks, take all those printed out worksheets from step 2 and clip them to each child’s list!
Now you might think this only works for children who can read, but this works very well for preschoolers, too! You use the same concept of writing out a list for each child, but put the list somewhere both you and your child can see it. If you have a white board or a chalk board as part of your school space, these work great! But if you don’t, you can use a simple piece of paper like before. Follow the same steps above to create the list for your younger child. Then, as you work through the items on the list during your school day, check off the items. This shows everyone in a very tangible way the progress you’re making throughout the day.
If you want to read more about how creating daily lists can not only help your school day go smoother and easier, but can also teach your children responsibility, check out this post.
#4 :: Set a Time to Start Your School Day.
When you take a live class, you’re expected to be in a certain place at a certain time, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re taking on online class, an elementary school class, or an in-person college class, when you sign up to take the class, you’re expected to be in a certain place in a certain time to participate in the class.
So, set a start time for your school day. Any time of day will do, but make sure the time you pick works with the rhythms of your family. For example, if no one gets up before 7:30am in your house, setting a school start time at 7am would not work well at all! However, if your family is up by 5:30 every morning, starting school at 7am might be perfect. It isn’t about the exact time you pick as much as picking a time where you gather together and start your school day.
But this step has one more important element: When you choose a start time for your school day, you need to start your school day at the time you say! If you don’t, it’s just words and theory. But when you follow through and start your school day at the time you say, you start to create a consistent pattern for your school day.
#5 :: Mix Up Your School Setting
Let’s face it, sometimes you get tired of being in one room for too long. We need variety! We need a change of scenery! Think about it: Even when you’re at your desk working on something you get up to stretch, use the restroom, refill your coffee and your water, and look out the window for a change of scenery before settling back down to focus, right?
So why not mix up the setting of your school day to keep things interesting? Sprawl out on the couch or the floor in the living room while you read a chapter from a read-aloud book. Go out on the back deck and enjoy the sunshine in the spring and the fall. Let your kids build with LEGOs on the floor while you read a history lesson out loud. Then return to the table for that craft project or math worksheet. For that matter, take your science lesson to the park and go on a scavenger hunt for some of the things in your lesson! Don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit!
#6 :: Set a Time for Your Lunch Break – and Stick To It!
Lunch will happen, right? Of course! So set a time for your lunch break. Now, this one sounds almost odd, right? But, when you take the time to decide on a time for your lunch breat, three things happen:
First, you set the expectation for when your children can expect lunch. Let’s face it, lunch is a very important thing in a child’s world! Now, I know you wouldn’t forget to feed your child, but setting a time for lunch clearly tells your child what to expect. It sets a clear expectation for them and reassures them that lunch is coming!
Second, it gives everyone some motivation to focus on their schoolwork. When you know when your next break will be, it’s easier to focus and be motivated to finish your work – or at least a bigger portion of your work – before the break happens.
And third, it eliminates the “Mommy, when’s lunch?” question throughout the morning – or at least drops the number of times it’s asked!
The biggest key with this step? If you set a time for your lunch break, make sure you stick to it!
#7 :: Set the Expectation for When Your School Day is Done
Before you even start your school day, set the expectation for when it will end. Now, I don’t mean setting an exact time. In fact, it’s hard to set an exact time when it comes to homeschooling because it changes from day to day, right? Some lessons might take a little extra time or that science experiment might take longer than you originally thought. Or everyone could be super focused and you could finish all your lessons earlier than you thought. With all these different factors in play, it’s hard to set an exact ending time for your school day because it changes from day to day.
Instead, set the expectation by saying certain lessons or tasks need to be accomplished for your school day to be complete. Now, if you created a list of school lessons and tasks in step 3, this is incredibly easy! Simply let your children know that all the items on their list need to be completed and checked by you before their school day is officially done.
There’s one very important thing I want you to understand: Just because you give your child a list of school lessons and tasks to complete doesn’t mean they do all their schoolwork without help! Yes, they can (and should) work independently when possible, but you’re still a big part of this homeschooling process. It’s still your responsibility as the momma to teach, train, lead lessons, and help your child master each subject. If you want to dive a little deeper into this concept of using lists to help you homeschool, be sure to check out the post Teaching Time Management with Strategy and a List.
Enjoy the Day
And there you have it, my Friend! 7 simple steps to say goodbye to chaos, overwhelm and frustration and get your school day done faster, easier, and with less stress. And hopefully less tears, too!
Have you ever heard the phrase “No plan survives the battlefield”? Now, I know this is referring specifically to military tactics and I’ll be the first to admit I’m not trained in that arena! But the concept holds true for motherhood and especially homeschooling.
You can create the most perfect strategy, the most fool-proof plan in your mind and set it up to perfection! But never forget that you are human. You are teaching humans (known as your children). Your children have emotions, fears, frustrations, successes, and distractions just like you do. And when you put all these imperfect people together, things don’t always go as planned!
Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t plan! On the contrary, I firmly believe that planning ahead and getting your game plan set the night before is a huge part of why our homeschool days go as smoothly as they do. But there are days that just don’t go according to plan, as much as I want them to!
There are days that conquer the plan instead of having the plan conquer the day. And yet, getting your game plan together is essential. Having a goal, knowing where you’re headed is so important for getting moving in the right direction and eliminating the frustration, overwhelm, chaos, and tears that so often define homeschooling days.
So flip the script! Change the tone. Walk into your day with a plan and see what great, positive changes come with this one simple action.
- Teaching Time Management with Strategy and a List
- How to Create a Daily Homeschooling Routine
- How to Set Up Your Homeschooling Space for Success
- How to Intentionally Create a Pattern for Your Day
- The One Room Schoolhouse Approach
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.