~Our 19 DAY JOURNEY of inspiration, activities, and resources continues!~
Every time my son and I have an EXEMPLARY day of homeschool, I know it’s coming; the day following is almost always a FLOP. Why? The laws of gravity I guess. Having an exemplary day of homeschooling (you know, a full-scheduled day of amazing Pinterest-worthy activities in which you are 100% engaged and available to your kids) leaves you, the parent-teacher-facilitator, frankly…. exhausted. What goes up… must come DOWN. It takes an incredible amount of creativity, energy, and patience to be engaged with your kids for an entire day! And I don’t know about you, but I can’t do it day after day! It’s just not sustainable. Popping out amazing activity after amazing activity like a homeschool fairy godmother is not my cup of tea.
On the other hand, we want to avoid the “flip-flop-effect”; where one day we crank out an amazing day of homeschool (take that Maria Montessori! Charlotte Mason who?) and the next day we throw up our hands, turn on the TV, and lock ourselves in our bedrooms out of pure exhaustion. (We’ve all been there, right?) We have to remember, homeschooling (and parenting in general) is a MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT. So, we have to pace ourselves!! For me, that means limiting myself to no more than ONE amazing, super cool, Pinterest-worthy school activity on the same day. In addition, I have discovered some HOMESCHOOL HACKS along ~Our Holistic Homeschool~ Journey that have vastly improved our family’s experience.
So here it is! My list of SANITY-SAVING HOMESCHOOL HACKS, so you and your kids can survive and thrive (hopefully at the same time).
~Our Holistic Homeschool~ HACKS:
1.) Three (or four) day weekend: Just because schools follow a five-days-a-week schedule, doesn’t mean you have to! Time to start reaping some of those homeschool benefits! In ~Our Holistic Homeschool~ we follow a four (sometimes three) day school week. Other than reading and writing time, which we do every day, we only do our other core school subject activities three or four days a week.
2.) Silent-Sustained-Reading Time: If your kids are at the age that they are reading to themselves, adding SSR to your day can be incredibly transformative for your homeschool experience. Work up to an hour of SSR for your family, and it works best if you (the parent-teacher-facilitator) set the example by reading at the same time as well. For younger children, I suggest setting the stage for SSR with a set time each day where you silent read to yourself and your young child is allowed to “peruse” books silently. Even my toddler does this. Every day, I aim to read silently to myself for ten to twenty minutes while my kids peruse books (aka look at pictures silently to themselves). My son, who is starting to read, will sometimes sound out words and sentences for himself, so he is beginning the transition into actual SSR.
3.) If you have a baby, do as much school as possible during nap time: Don’t try to do school with an older child only while the baby is awake. It’s tempting to use naptime as sacred me-time, but usually that means that school doesn’t happen, or at least doesn’t go very well. That one-on-one focused time with your child is so important for your homeschool success, and it’s virtually impossible with a baby. Of course, naptime doesn’t last the whole day, so just do your most important school activities, or the ones that baby is most likely to interfere with, during naptime.
4.) Block Schedule: Having a hard time squeezing in all the school subjects into the same day? Try a block schedule! Example: Mon/Wed/Fri: Math, Reading, and Art. Tues/Thurs: Science, History, and Home Economics.
5.) “You do your work, I do mine” (repeat as often as needed): After introducing the material, or giving a short lesson, allow your child to do the work or assignment on their own, while you do something of your own side by side. If your child tries to engage you, simply repeat: “You do your work, I do mine” as lifelessly as you possibly can. If you are working from home, this will be a necessity. Otherwise, you might read while your child works, or perhaps do a quiet (and boring!) chore, such as laundry or paying bills.
6.) Hands-On (for your kids), and Hands-Off (for you): Assemble trays and materials for the week, and then make them available (and nothing else) for an hour during each school day. In other words, your kids may freely work with the tray materials of their choosing, but nothing else for that set hour per day. I usually fold laundry on the couch and observe my son while he works with his tray materials. This way, I can provide help if he needs me but I don’t go insane from boredom.
7.) Unschooling Day: If you haven’t had any time to lesson plan, or you are feeling creatively drained, consider having an Unschooling Day. Simply ask your child: what do you want to learn about today? Brace yourself for a possibly wild ride!!!
8.) Home Economics Day: In our home, we never have school (other than reading and writing time) on Mondays. Instead, on Mondays we clean the house together and my son learns various life skills along the way. (Also: try listening to an audiobook together while you clean!)
9.) Cooking Day: On Fridays, we usually have a cooking day (still including reading and writing time). This is how I manage the time to prep our meals for the week (although somehow I still never have dinner ready on time). There are all kinds of math and science lessons to be learned in the kitchen! So get cookin’! (Also: try listening to an audiobook together while you cook!)
10.) Reading Day: Some days, I just can’t… parent. On these days, I spend extra time reading with my son. Sitting and reading together, cuddled up with a hot cup of tea, is so easy and requires no mental energy at all. Taking the day off of school and just reading a little longer together refuels me to start fresh the next day.
11.) Documentary Day: One day a week, consider allowing your child to watch a documentary of their choosing during part of school time. This will give you an hour or more to work uninterrupted, prep homeschool activities or lesson plans, or just give you an hour to yourself. To make it even more fun, I’ve made my son two movie tickets which he gets returned to him every Monday. He is allowed to use these movie tickets any non-consecutive days during the week during school hours. One is a “Free-Choice Movie” and the other is a “Documentary”. I just made ours very simple on index cards, nothing fancy.
12.) Music & Movement: By adding a music and movement window to your day, you can gain up to an hour of valuable hands-off time from your kids. I love to use this time to clean up around the house or make dinner. For all kinds of Music & Movement ideas and activities, read my previous post: Day 6: Get your kids to MOVE IT (and stop taking it out on the walls)!
13.) Free (virtual) tutors: Need a break from your kids? (All God’s people said?) Utilize all the free virtual tutors out there just waiting to serve you! Here’s all our favorite virtual tutors!
- Paint with BOB ROSS on Netflix: click here: Netflix link
- Paint with BOB ROSS on YouTube: click here: YouTube link
- Art Hub for kids on YouTube: click here: YouTube link
- Kick it old-school with BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY!
- Nature Documentaries for kids:
- browse kids documentaries on Netflix: Netflix link
- Yoga with Adriene: click here for my previous post with YouTube links: Day 6: Get your kids to MOVE IT (and stop taking it out on the walls)!
- Audio Dramas & Classical Music for Music & Movement Time: click here for my previous post with YouTube links: Day 6: Get your kids to MOVE IT (and stop taking it out on the walls)!
- School Songs: click here for my previous post with YouTube links: Day 6: Get your kids to MOVE IT (and stop taking it out on the walls)!
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Comment below with your favorite Homeschool Hack!
Please share this post with another family who could use some Homeschool Hacks!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~