Life is hectic. In this age of constant busyness, it just seems to come at you from all different directions every single day.
Add homeschooling to the mix, and you’re in for a bit of fun. 😉
If there’s one thing I can encourage you about today, it’s that homeschooling doesn’t have to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
What if I were to tell you that your homeschool day could be shorter than it is? What if I were also to tell you that your child’s education wouldn’t suffer because of it?
It can be all too easy to try to model our schedule after a traditional school day, but it’s just not necessary to do that in a home learning environment. Learning happens all the time- even when you aren’t “doing school.” With that in mind, I want you to consider these:
10 Tricks to Shorten Your Homeschool Day
1. Keep lessons short.
Lessons don’t have to be 45 minutes long to be effective. In fact, after about the first 15 minutes or so, oftentimes you may find your child’s eyes glazing over as they try desperately to pay attention to something they’ve already lost interest in. The solution? Keep your lessons close to the 10-20 minute mark. You may “cover less material,” but what’s the point of covering material that the kids aren’t really listening to anyway? I’d much rather have my child enthusiastically participate in a 10 minute lesson than half-heartedly take in only some of a 45 minute one.
2. Use as few textbooks as possible.
Some people like textbooks. I get it. My oldest daughter prefers textbook learning over any other. What I’ve found, however, is that textbook learning often takes the longest. Consider integrating different approaches to your day, rather than going through 4-5 textbooks. Not only will your day go faster, but it will add some variety to an otherwise mundane routine.
3. Combine subjects.
Life isn’t broken up into subjects, so why do we insist on doing that with our children’s education? Kids are able to retain information so much better when there is some sort of connection, rather than learning about unrelated things all day long. Although unit studies and read-alouds are the first ideas that come to mind to combine subjects, this can even be done with textbooks. For example, if your child has to figure out a multitude of chemical equations, maybe they could skip math for the day. If their science book includes a biography of Nikola Tesla, that’s also history. If they will be writing a report on the Renaissance, why assign a writing worksheet, too? Although textbooks are written to cover specific subjects, the reality is that (unless it’s math), they will all carry a good amount of information from all subjects.
4. Stop expecting to cover every subject, everyday.
There is absolutely no reason that you must cover everything every single day. It’s okay if you skip science or history (or whatever else) for a day or two, or even a week. These things have a way of balancing themselves out. We once spent about three months learning about pioneer life from the Little House series. Although our focus was mainly on history, we did touch on scientific topics now and then. After that unit, we moved on to one about famous inventors, so we naturally shifted into more scientific lessons and less history. Don’t stress over it. These things take care of themselves!
5. Stick to the basics.
By that, I mean the 3 R’s. Spend your time teaching your children to read, write, spell and do math, and then let them explore their interests for the rest of the day. Go to the library and stock up on an assortment of books and DVDs. Gather up some art supplies and things to tinker with. You’ll be amazed at what kids who have free time on their hands will come up with!
6. Stop being ruled by your schedule.
Having a routine in place for your homeschool is a sanity-saver, for sure. Becoming a slave to that schedule, though, can be one of the biggest homeschooling mistakes you’ll make. I think we’ve all seen the neat little homeschooling schedules on Pinterest and in our teacher’s manuals that list out specific times for each subject. I’m telling you, they look pretty appealing to type-A homeschool moms like me. Unfortunately, though, it can be all too easy to treat them as if they can’t be adjusted. If your child is scheduled to do language arts from 9-9:45 and finishes at 9:20, it doesn’t mean they have to do silent reading or some sort of busywork until 9:45. Just let them move on to the next subject!
When it comes to schedules, for me, the safest thing is to set a time to start homeschooling each day and to designate a time that I’d consider the latest to finish up. If you get done early, take advantage of it! You aren’t bound by a school schedule. Live like it!
7. Don’t feel guilty if you think your days are too short.
Try to steer clear from comparing the length of your days to the public schools. Homeschooling is entirely different than traditional school, so don’t ever feel like you need to add more because you “aren’t doing enough.” Believe me, you are.
8. Try unschooling.
I’d be remiss to write a post like this and not mention unschooling. I mean, you can’t get a shorter homeschool day than no lessons at all, right? 🙂
9. Don’t use teacher’s manuals.
I know they’re meant to help, but they honestly do more harm than good. Do yourself a favor, and use your curriculum in the way that works best for you- not because your teacher’s manual says so. They often add too much busywork and too much additional preparation with no added benefits. You know your child better than any curriculum writer. Use that to your advantage. (For more of my thoughts on this subject, check out this video.)
10. Stop visiting Pinterest.
Okay, I’m only half-joking when I say this. Pinterest is amazing. I get a lot of great ideas from Pinterest, but, seriously, use it in moderation. Remember that no one’s life is as picture perfect as they make it look in their photos. (And if it is, I don’t want to hear about it!) 😛 Stop spending inordinate amounts of time on complicated activities so you can feel like you “measure up.” You don’t need to prove anything. Just be the best homeschool mom YOU can be.
The homeschool life is an amazing life, isn’t it? And you know what’s even more amazing? Making your homeschool your own, without fear of “not doing enough” or “not measuring up.” You ARE doing enough, and you DO measure up. Don’t take my word for it, though.
Go ask your kids. 🙂
(For more on this topic, watch my video!)