About five years ago I made one simple change to our home school and it made a big difference. Mind you, we are now on our ninth year of home schooling, so I had already spent four years without doing this one small thing and doing it really has changed our productivity dramatically.
I chose a starting time and began to stick to it.
Because I spent a few years starting school with the kids whenever I was ready to, the kids would usually be busily involved in another activity when I would call to them that it was time for school. This was usually met with grumbles because they didn’t want to stop doing what they were doing, which frustrated me, and we all started school in a grumpy mood. Not good. When I decided to pick a specific start time and stick with it, I explained things to the kids. I tried to clearly express my expectations and any consequences of those expectations not being met. It took a couple of weeks for everyone to adjust to the new plan, but now it is so much a part of our day that I don’t even have to say anything to the kids. They know that we start school at 9:00am, Monday through Thursday.
Now, because of this built in habit, the kids are ready to go without me telling them and often they go ahead and start their independent work early. In the beginning this meant that sometimes I had to stop what I was doing and turn my focus to school. Or leave things undone until we had a break because it was now school time. We’ve been doing this long enough now, this it is simply part of how my morning goes.
For years I was laboring under the wonderful new freedom of “we can do school whenever.” Yes, I said laboring. Because for me, while it sounded great, it didn’t work great. We were never consistent. It was a struggle all day to get the kids through their work, and that made choosing to accept any other opportunity that came our way easy. Even if it would have been better to stay home and focus on school.
The biggest surprise to me was that the kids actually preferred this new change. Sure, they resisted it at first, but not for long. Knowing how most of their days were gonna start seemed to put them at ease. Yes, there was (is) the occasional bad mood, and unwillingness to begin, but who doesn’t have those days? I know I sure do.
There are many things that can happen throughout a home school day that we can’t control. Starting on time, however, is something we have much control over, and since we as a family have committed to starting our days at a specific time, we have seen a rise in our successful days and in our enjoyment of school as a whole.
After home schooling for four years without this practice and now five years with it, I can tell you that it’s a keeper.
So, if you are feeling a little out of control with your home schooling, ask yourself, “Have I chosen a realistic starting time for everyday and am I sticking to it?” If you haven’t and aren’t, then I recommend trying it for a few months and seeing if it makes as big a difference for you as it has for me.
Next week I’ll share the biggest contributing factor I’ve found to having a successful home schooling day. Do you have any tips you’ve found that help your home school run smoothly?