Friday, March 31, 2017

How to Keep Your Homeschool Kids on Track Every Day

As a mother of many, one question I get all the time is: "How do you do it all?"  Of course, I don't do it all.  There's always something left undone.  More times than not there are a lot of somethings left undone.  But as I look around, the house is acceptably clean, someone is always eating, birthdays are never missed, laundry gets done on a regular enough schedule, and the kids are (in my opinion) well educated.  I'm typically pretty happy about how things are chuggin' along.

One thing I've learned since our early days of homeschooling is the day goes so much better if the kids can stay on track with their school work.  If mom can turn her back without chaos breaking out between the kids then she can get her work done while the kids get their work done.  

There are 2 components to keeping your homeschool kids on track.

#1 - Train you children in obedience.  And when they don't comply issue a swift and effective consequence.  In our house homeschooling happens first thing and, like most kids, our kids have a full list of things they'd rather be doing.  The best consequence for not staying on task is a double school timeout.  

What is a double school timeout?  It's a timeout based on your age and then doubled.  If you're nine and daydreaming or hiding out in your room or shaking the table while your sister is trying to write then you stand on a 18 minute timeout.  

The timeout starts when the child is quiet, standing straight with their hands at their sides, facing the hallway wall.  I set a timer and they are expected to remain in position until the timer beeps.  If they talk, wiggle, pick paint off the wall, play with pocket knives, knock the Jesus with children art off the wall, then the timer is reset.  I have one child (who might be graduating this year) who once stood for over 40 minutes because he just wouldn't stop mumbling under his breath about the "stupid timeout".

Once the kids realize I mean business (yes, I should've been a drill sergeant) it doesn't take long for this method to be effective.  Because, let's face it, they'd rather get their work done and get on with their own plans than stand for endless minutes on a timeout.

#2 - Figure out the best planning method for each child.  Over the years I've used many types of planners for the kids.  I used Catholic Student Planners for a couple years with my middle grade kids.  I've used wall charts, checklists, homemade planners, work boxes....you name it we've probably used it.

This year I'm using a variety of methods because each child is unique with different planning needs.

I did share our planners live on Facebook.  You can view that here.  I'm not going to share those details here, just a quick picture.

When the kids know exactly what they need to do, they can plan their day accordingly and it's easy as the mom to check their lists to make sure they are staying on track.

I would like to share a little about setting monthly goals for the non-reader.  Non-readers and early readers need a lot of direction from Mom and my method for setting monthly goals instead of a daily to do list works best for me.  For our younger children, I divide a sheet of paper into 9 sections, label each with a month from Sept. - May, then number it 1-6.  I then list the goals I have for each month.

Possible Goals that Might Make the List

# of reading lessons
# of math lessons or pages in workbook
large motor skills
fine motor skills
# of art projects
saints to read about
field trip idea
# of books to read
living skills to learn
cultural event to read about (Thanksgiving, Groundhog Day, etc.)
.....and so many more.

Normally the month starts out strong, then life happens, then week 3 I look over the goals and pick up the pace a little.  By week 4 we are cranking out books and lessons because I like to end the month with a ✔ next to each goal.

In the end, keeping your homeschool kids on track every day requires effort from both the homeschooling parent and child.  Teaching children to be obedient and then giving them a workable plan and checking it twice will allow you, the mom (or dad) to get your work done along side your child making homeschooling and family life more enjoyable.

I hope you all have a crantastic day!