For those of you who have been following this blog since it began back in March, this is an updated post to which I have added 4 new Homeschool Hacks!
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. And I LOVE 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, this 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.) Make Homeschool Irresistible:
If schoolwork in general isn’t your child’s favorite, or for a particular subject that elicits moans and groans, sweeten the school routine by making it irresistible. I should mention that this is as much for you as for your child. Some days, you won’t want to sit down with your child as she does her Homeschool workbooks or tray activities any more than she does. That’s ok! But whatever you do, don’t commiserate with your child. Homeschool kids need to see and believe that their teacher-parents truly love the Homeschool day. Decorate the School Room. Make tea or coffee to drink during Social Studies. Set out treats during the math lesson. Play some nice background noises or music during reading time. And above all, be present and invested. If nothing else, your child will learn to associate Homeschool with extra one-on-one time spent with mom or dad.
*To receive my complete tutorial for Making Homeschool Irresistible, subscribe below!
3.) Silent-Sustained-Reading Time: If your kids are reading to themselves, adding SSR (Silent-Sustained-Reading) 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.
4.) Listen while you work, listen while you play, or just simply listen:
Sometimes you need to do laundry. Or dishes. Or . . . your job. Audiobooks & Audio dramas to the rescue! In addition to an hour of SSR (Silent-Sustained-Reading) every day, add an hour of SSL (Silent-Sustained-Listening) as well! A younger child can use a “Story Basket” (stay tuned for a post on that soon) or can play quietly while he listens. Some children will just want to lay down or rest while they listen, which Montessori called an activity all on it’s own. An older child may want to draw/paint, craft, sew, or help you clean/make dinner while he listens to an audiobook. In case you are concerned that this is wasted time, refer to my previous post that explains the incredible learning gains of simply listening to literature: Book It!
*To receive my upcoming guide The Morning Story Basket; Enchanting Listen-While-You-Play, subscribe below!
5.) Rock a Bye Baby: Don’t try to do school with an older child only while the baby is awake. It’s tempting to use naptimes 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 difficult to 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.
6.) 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.
7.) “You do your work, I do mine”: 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 or journal while your child works, or perhaps do a quiet (and boring!) chore, such as laundry or paying bills. Assure your child that you will check in on their work in a few minutes or once he or she has completed their work. We do not need to notice and praise every single progression.
8.) 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.
9.) 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!!!
10.) Teacher’s Aid: If you are Homeschooling more than one child, promote an older child to “teachers’ aid” and allow him to cover portions of a younger sibling’s education. My older sister was my Kindergarten teacher back in the day, and she truly did an impeccable job! She taught me my ABC’s, numbers, Bible Verses . . . we even had craft and snack time. And I will never forget it. Think of it as giving your kids the gift of extra sibling bonding time while you cook dinner or tend to those phone calls. You may give your child a small wage for covering a half hour or more of a younger sibling’s Homeschool day. Some ideas to assign to your Teacher’s Aid:
- School Songs
- Music & Movement
- Puzzles & Games
- “Play School” (where your older child plays the role of the teacher and actually gives the younger a short lesson)
11.) 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!)
12.) 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!)
13.) 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.
14.) 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 a set window. One is a “Free-Choice Movie” and the other is a “Documentary”.
*Subscribe below to receive my printable movie tickets in an upcoming post!
15.) 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: Get your kids to MOVE IT (and stop taking it out on the walls)!
16.) No school allowed: Make Homeschool extra enticing by giving it a curfew. When school time is over for the day, all school materials/activities/workbooks are off-limits until school is in session again. This may sound absurd to you. Why would we hold off our children from doing extra school work? This has to do with psychology.
We make things irresistible to our children by setting limits on them. We put limits on ice cream, candy, and other treats, but we never think to do the same thing with broccoli! Our children can sometimes have little value for the things we offer them so freely. Our children can’t wait for school to be over so they can finally get to those toys that they aren’t allowed to play with during school time. We make toys and play time so attractive with our limiting them, and yet we would never limit their learning time! Try it. Our son can’t wait to get at the school materials on Tuesday when he hasn’t been allowed to touch them since Friday.
17.) 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
*for links for all the following items, refer to my previous post: Get your kids to MOVE IT (and stop taking it out on the walls)!
- Yoga with Adriene
- Audio Dramas & Classical Music for Music & Movement Time
- School Songs
Comment below with your favorite Homeschool Hack!
Please share this post with another family who could use some Homeschool Hacks for Fall 2020!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~