In the past, I’ve talked about the most important thing I’ve done in my homeschool-setting a start time for our day.
I crave structure and consistency. And I’ve found that my kids also enjoy having a rhythm and routine to our school days.
We start school at the same time every day. Our start time is at 6 AM (and you can read more about that here).
Hold on! Before you panic, know that I’m not advocating that everyone should start school at 6 AM. That is the time that works for us (as crazy as it may sound.) However, I do strongly encourage you to pick your own start time and stick with it for a few months. I think you’ll find that your days are more productive.
While we have a set start time for our homeschool, I’ve never had a specific ending time. Our homeschool days ebb and flow – some are longer than others if we’re caught up in a story or engrossed in a project. Sometimes the arguments, complaining, and tantrums drag out the day, making me feel perpetually behind. Other times we are done earlier than usual and get to enjoy some unexpected free time. And yes, those days are my favorite.
In our homeschool my strategy has been to just keep moving forward until we complete all of our schoolwork for that day – whether it’s earlier or much later than usual.
I’ve found that often our days feel like they will never end. I’m homeschooling 4 kids with a preschooler and a baby thrown in the mix – of course my days are long! But I’ve started to despair. Will school ever end? Will my kids have playtime in the afternoon? Will I get any alone time? Will I have time to hide in a closet to eat chocolate?
My ever-patient husband told me I needed to pick a time to “clock out” of my role as teacher. So, I took his advice and I chose a time.
Now, my homeschool day ends at 2 PM. At that time, I finish what we’re working on and then put away the books for that day.
- It doesn’t matter if we’re not finished with all the lesson plans for that day.
- It doesn’t matter if some of the boxes haven’t been checked.
- It doesn’t matter if part of my list is left undone.
My school day is over. The End.
Guess what? It is wonderful!
I can now say that this has been the 2nd most important decision I’ve made for our homeschool (or maybe it should be moved into 1st place).
I have a goal. There is an end in sight. My structured school time ends at 2.
Now, for those of you that say learning happens all the time….yes, I agree. We never stop learning. But my planned and scheduled time stops at 2.
For the rest of the afternoon we are free to follow our own interests. My kids hurry off to whatever creative pursuit they have planned. (Currently they are writing and practicing a play to perform for me). As for me, I sneak upstairs to my room to enjoy some quiet time to read and study my Bible. It is bliss, I tell you!
Our school days are much smoother now that my kids know that there is an ending time that is followed by free play. They are more motivated to complete their work. Some days we even get done early – unless they beg for one more chapter (or two or ten) of our latest read aloud.
I’ve also discovered another benefit to having set school hours. During that time I can turn off all distractions – the phone can ring, text messages can wait, emails are ignored – because I know that I have two hours in the afternoon to catch up on everything that I might be missing.
I am able to focus my undivided attention on my school day because I know I have time set aside for the other tasks. It is so freeing! I enjoy our school time so much more.
So, do you have set hours that are focused school time? Do you have time in your day that is set aside just for you?
If not, I would encourage you to reevaluate your schedule. Consider setting school hours – during those times don’t allow yourself to be distracted by all the other things on your to do list. Then have time that is scheduled for those other things that clamor for your attention.
I am so enjoying having a little bit of time just for myself in the afternoon. In fact, I just put a new book on my Kindle that I’m excited to read. I chose this title….
It’s ok. Set aside some time for you in your homeschool day. You won’t regret it!