3 Ways To Get It Done | Back-to-School
by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
“You’re family is so busy, how can you possibly get it done?!”
Our family should take up a collection for the amount of times we hear those words. We are the “busiest” family on the planet, apparently.
I actually disagree with that. We might appear to be really busy, but we have plenty of down days. I do not think we are any busier than the average family. It’s just a matter of our activities vs. someone else’s. But we are all busy to a certain degree. And those of us who homeschool our children still have to make sure we are teaching our children effectively in the midst of busy schedules. It’s back-to-school season so make sure you’re planning your school days in the best possible way for your family.
How can you homeschool your children amid the busyness of life?
Here are a few ways we get it done:
- Create a Schedule
I touched on this point in another post where I shared the 3 homeschool mistakes we’ve made throughout our homeschool journey. My undergraduate degree is Church Ministries, with an emphasis on leadership. I had to study many leadership books. The one central theme in almost every leadership book I read was – schedule! The most successful people in the world create a daily schedule. When we started our homeschooling journey we’d wake up and wing it. It’s no surprise that we had plenty of days when we didn’t get any schoolwork done.
We finally learned how to create a daily schedule. (To go along with their lesson plan) Our children are a part of a homeschool “co-op” called Classical Conversations. We receive the yearly schedule from Classical Conversations in the summer. During the summer we also create a yearly schedule for our homeschool physical education program. With both of these schedules we know when we will be out of the house and for how long.
We are then able to create a schoolwork schedule for our children around our physical education and co-op schedule. Our daily schedule is on our refrigerator every morning and we all refer to it throughout the day.
You may also want to create a schedule of “school days”. These are days your children are expected to do schoolwork. Our children expect schoolwork each day. We take very few days off. We do not stop schoolwork for snow days or for any other traditional school days. (It might sound harsh, but there’s no need to stop schoolwork (speaking for our family) on these days especially if there’s work to be completed. If all work is completed, then we might schedule a few impromptu days off.
If you’re not into creating a daily schedule I highly recommend you start this year. It will make all the difference in this busy world.
2. Stick To Your Schedule
Creating a schedule is one thing. Sticking to your schedule is another. I read a book by John Maxwell a few years ago and he said something in that book I will never forget. He said, if you do not know how to keep your word to yourself, you will begin to doubt your abilities. (paraphrase)
In other words, creating a schedule is like keeping your word to yourself to complete a task. If you do not keep your own word, you’ll always doubt your abilities. Believe it or not, that behavior could easily rub off on your children. If they see you constantly breaking the school schedule, they could grow up breaking their schedules and it could lead to lack of commitments. They could also develop the habit of breaking their word to others.
Do your best to keep your daily schedule. I actually believe NOT keeping our daily schedule makes us even busier because we have now added something new into our lives on top of trying to complete what still needs to get done.
There are so many things that come our way and it’s easy to simply push our needs under the rug. But it’s important to remember our commitment to our children to properly home educate them. Making it a habit of breaking your daily school schedule can lead to unnecessary chaos.
A few years ago our neighbor called and asked if I could watch her granddaughter because she had an appointment and her sitter could not be there. We had an entire day of schoolwork we had to get finished because we were going out of town. If we did not complete our schoolwork before going out of town it would have caused us to get behind when we returned.
I almost said yes. If you know me I am always trying to help others. I do not like to tell people no. But in this case I had to. This wasn’t a major emergency on my neighbor’s part. Her two adult children lived with her as well, so I knew at the end of the day, she could find an alternative. We had to get schoolwork done. And this was not a situation worth breaking our schedule over.
Give thought when situations threaten to take you off your daily school schedule. Can you schedule appointments another time? Can you turn your phone off while teaching? (A big one) Can you choose different days and times for extra-curricular activities?
Plan your schedule and stick with it. There is such an amazing feeling at the end of each day when you have accomplished everything on your list. (Again, I touched on this point as well in another post; don’t strive to check your list off. Strive to teach. Help your children learn – and celebrate when you stick to your schedule each day)
With all my schedule talk you might think we have no flexibility in our schedule. Well that’s not true. We do. All states are different but for the most part all states require 180 days of student instruction which can translate into field trips, walks in the park, or life learning skills. As much as we try to stick to our schedule there are some days when it does not happen. For example: a few months ago our dryer suddenly stopped working. The only available time for us to pick up a new part to fix the dryer was a Monday morning.
(The dryer part we needed)
So instead of our usual (planned) assignments we used that situation to teach our children how to research home improvement tutorials online. We took them to the parts store to buy the part and we showed them how to replace the part to fix the dryer.
(Our non working dryer before replacing the part)
Learning comes in many capacities. We are all busy and life will happen! Learning is all around us. Learning is going for walk and observing and talking about the trees. Learning is grocery shopping and understanding how to look at prices. Learning is teaching your children how to call a repair person to fix something in your house. Learning is making a meal by reading and measuring ingredients.
Busy lives also means being flexible and doing schoolwork while we are out and about. I have had my children do schoolwork while one child is at music class. Instead of doing nothing, they complete their work.
(Jaden in our church lobby while his sister had a music lesson)
Sometimes we’ve done schoolwork on a Saturday.
The point is to remember that homeschooling is wonderful – and it can be done with tremendous flexibility. We know so many people who work full-time (both parents), operate businesses, yet still homeschool their children with quality and efficiency.
It can be done – and done well – even with busy schedules.
We live in a busy world today. Homeschooling is fun, and flexible – but it’s easy to get carried away in all the fun and flexibility and forget to properly home educate our children. It’s easy to get so busy that schoolwork is neglected.
Enjoy this time. Enjoy the many activities our homeschool community offers.
Don’t allow the busyness of life to take you away from the importance of home educating your children. Plan and keep your schedule and you and your children will reap the rewards.
-Saleama A. Ruvalcaba