Time management is a very valuable aspect of homeschooling successfully. Organizing curriculum lessons, household errands, church activities, doctor appointments, and home maintenance are just a few of the things homeschool parents must manage each day.
Since you only have 24 hours to eat, sleep, shower, homeschool, and relax, how do you get it all done? Become more efficient with your time by incorporating these essential time management, organization, and planning strategies into your homeschooling:
Develop a planning system.
Whether you use a professional planner, a computer spreadsheet, or the family kitchen calendar, all homeschooling families need a guide for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activities. Eliminate frustration and the disastrous consequences of getting dates and times mixed up by noting field trips, library visits, homeschool co-op meetings, church activities, regular test days, extracurricular music lessons, and sports activities on one centrally located calendar.
Note: Monarch and Switched-On Schoolhouse Christian homeschool curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications have a built-in global calendar that can be used to record not only daily assignments, but also weekly and monthly activities like those mentioned above.
Double up your work.
Multi-tasking may sound like a scary word, but more often than not, you're probably already doing it. The secret is to get more creative in your organizational talents. Can you combine all your errands into one trip? Can you make two or three meals at a time instead of one? Can you clean the bathroom while also getting ready for the day? Can you feed the baby while reading a book to your preschooler? Look for more ways to do double duty!
Too many first-time homeschool parents make the mistake of trying to do it all. Burdened by household chores, as well as teaching, many parents quickly burn out on homeschooling. To maximize your time, assign age-appropriate chores like meal preparation, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, and pet care responsibilities to your children. Getting your children to take an active role in daily living tasks is imperative to making more time for academic studies. Remember, many hands make light work!
Determine realistic academic goals.
The biggest single time management mistake made by most homeschool parents is misjudging the time necessary to complete schoolwork. Learn to build success into each of your children's daily assignments by planning for the big goals and working backward. List each child's courses, assignments, projects, and activities for the year. Then, break down each subject further into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Allow more time for subjects your children may find difficult and don't expect to complete every lesson in your curriculum during the year.
Discuss problem areas with your child.
Tired of wasting time trying to teach math to your sleepy-eyed teen in the morning? Although you may think math is most appropriate in the morning, your night-owl might do better tackling math at the end of the day. The joy of homeschooling is that you can customize your daily tasks, activities, and teaching around what works best for each child and the family. Time management bottlenecks can often be fixed by allowing your children to come up with solutions to scheduling problems and organization.
Discard time robbers.
Learning to say "no" doesn't mean you're a bad homeschooling parent. Over-commitment to certain activities will cause unnecessary stress to both you and your children. Keep a list of your family's main goals and don't let others coerce you into doing more. After all, more is not always better! Plus, learn to discipline yourself and stay away from other daily time robbers like texting or talking on the phone, surfing the Internet, and watching TV.
Do what makes you feel most organized first.
When the sky is falling and there isn't time for everything, do what keeps you sane first. Even though you could write hundreds of things, make a list after your children are in bed and pick four to five things you need to accomplish during the next 24 hours. You'll be happier and teach more efficiently and effectively knowing you knocked off the "must dos" for the day.
What about your homeschooling family? Have any time management ideas that have worked for you? Please, take a moment to share your best time-saving tip in the comment field below.