I used to have a major hang-up about not starting our school day until everything was tidy.
About three or four years into homeschooling I realized that corralling three little kids, tidying things up, and getting starting school at a time that allowed us to be done before we had to get out the door to afternoon activities — well it wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t until I let go of that expectation and just started doing school, even if the house was messy, that I started turning things around in my homeschool.
I am not going to tell you that you have to let your house fall into chaos to be able to homeschool well. I have to admit, those years are behind us now. My teens sleep in, and I have plenty of time to get to my little morning tidy routine before my day begins. BUT for a few years, I had to prioritize starting the school day well over getting all the chores done first. This is one of the things we will be talking about today (never fear, I have some sneaky tips you can use for stealth tidying while you school).
Why consistency is important in your homeschool
First, this is part two of our series about the ways you may be sabotaging your homeschool. The main message I have for you is this – the more consistent you are in your homeschooling the easier it gets. Your kids respond to consistency because they know what will be happening each day. You get into a routine and things just begin to flow smoothly.
Consistency is difficult, though. It is one of the hardest things you will do in your homeschool and honestly, you are probably doing some things that might be sabotaging your efforts to be consistent. That is what last week’s podcast, today’s, and the next one are all about. Discovering those places where we are hurting ourselves and seeing if we can make some adjustments to increase the ease with which we homeschool. If you didn’t listen to last week’s episode on perfectionism be sure to go back and do that. It was episode number 54 in your podcast app.
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How we sabotage our homeschool by being too busy
Today’s episode is about something we fail to do can really hurt our homeschool. Since we are home and have no one to answer to in the day to day, it is easy to begin letting things creep into the edges of our school day. A dentist appointment here, a Bible study there, a pantry that really needs to be reorganized, or a wonderful volunteer opportunity. Then we sit down to do a math or reading lesson with the seven year old and realize that he seems to have lost all the knowledge from the last lesson. And when we count up the days? No wonder. It’s been two weeks since we last did math.
Now I want to stop and caveat this situation with the understanding that every family is different. There are some of you listening out there who are thinking, “Pam! The life we are doing IS the education I want for my kids. The volunteer activities, the Bible study, the classes at the museum, those are so much better than sitting and doing the book work.” And you know what? Good for you! I am glad you feel that way, and your point should be considered by everyone. We shouldn’t get so tied to the book work that we don’t see the educational opportunities in life.
But I also know there are moms out there who love the opportunities life affords, takes advantage of them, and still beats herself up over the lack of consistent book work. That kind of reframing of what education looks like and can be takes years to work through.
If you are the mom who is beating yourself up, you are probably looking for some balance between the school of life and math instruction for your third grader. You’re on your own journey and we’re here to support you in that.
Also being a mom of a kid who did not magically learn to read organically, I can tell you that some kids just need consistent direct instruction. Let’s agree that this is a need for some moms and some kids. Simply saying, “Don’t worry. They learn so much from life,” doesn’t make everyone feel better.
So, what can we do when we are finding the business creeping it and feeling like we are failing at this homeschool thing?
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The mindset shift of honoring your school day
The mindset shift that needs to happen is something I call “honoring your school day.” What this means is simply sitting and looking at a calendar and blocking off the time you intend to do school. If your kids are young this may be just an hour a day. If they are older, you may have three or four hours blocked off.
Notice I am not talking about a strict schedule that says 9-9:30 Math (though there are some who thrive with that kind of scheduling). Instead, this is simply indicating the time that school is your priority.
During the time you have blocked off for school do two things:
- Let nothing else outside of a true emergency encroach on that time.
- Don’t try to multitask during these hours, but instead be completely available to your kids.
Doing this one thing can change the atmosphere of your homeschool forever. Yes, it may mean that your house doesn’t stay as tidy as you want it to. Yes, it may mean that you miss out on doing some opportunities that are very good indeed, but it also means that the skills that need regular practice are getting covered on a regular basis. Your kids will have an easier and faster time learning those skills because of that consistent practice. The best part is, you are going to feel more confident that you are doing what you need to do to make your homeschool successful. Man that’s a good feeling. When you know you are being faithful to the work, you have done your part.
A tip for getting housework done while homeschooling
Ok before I go, a mini tip about those chores you might not be getting done. What about the laundry that needs to be swapped or the dish washer that needs to be unloaded?
When my kids reached those middle elementary ages, I started sending them to do those little chores whenever they were at a stopping point in their school day. So, I would be working with one kid on math and the other would be sitting there (usually being a distraction) because they needed my help.
That is the time to send them to the laundry room to move the clothes or ask them to go put the silverware away or pick up all the toys in the living room. You have to frame it as a positive — go pick up all the Legos and by the time you get back it will be your turn. They were happy (ish) to scurry off and do the thing instead of having to sit and wait. When they returned there were many thank yous and appreciation — plus it was their turn.
This fall we will be journeying together in our Homeschool Consistency Bootcamp program to make the mindset shifts needed to fix your consistency problems for good. You’ll learn the tools you can use to stop perfectionism in its tracks and get the coaching and accountability you need to be consistent, get your kids on board, and bring ease to your homeschool days. We’ll have video coaching, daily accountability texts, weekly check-ins, and a proven solution to your consistency issues. Find out more at https://pambarnhill.lpages.co/consistency/ today.
I’ll be back again next week to talk about a third thing you may be doing that is sabotaging your homeschool consistency. I hope you join me then. Until then, keep on homeschooling.
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