People often wonder, and some even voice their concerns thoughts, how I can possibly homeschool with 7 children and manage to get anything productive accomplished, all while staying sane.
Well, I’m hoping to shed some light for those inquiring-minds, as well as help others who might have a homeschool full of students, or even those who don’t have so many. I believe that the posts I will share over the next 5 days can help all homeschoolers in some way.
So I hope you will join me this week as I give you a little peak into how I manage our homeschool, with 7 kids.
If our household didn’t follow a schedule, mayhem would ensue. And I know that through experience – there have been days we have thrown the schedule out the window (and not for good reason, like an impromptu field trip or learning experience), and times when we have been derailed for longer periods of time due to a sickness, or a new baby, or a move – and when this happens, it’s not pretty, or productive.
Having a schedule or routine and homeschooling many, go hand-in-hand, and here are the reasons why:
1. Everyone will be more productive – having set times for certain chores and activities means that those things will get done (most of the time; we all know ‘life’ happens).
2. Everyone will know what’s expected of them – after awhile, your kids will get used to the schedule and it will become routine for them; they will know what they are to be doing and when.
3. Things will run more smoothly because of #2 which will mean a lot less stress for everyone.
4. Having a schedule will help you prioritize. You only have so many hours in the day, and only so much will fit into those hours. You may not be able to fit it all in, so you will be forced to decide what things are most important.
5. Your kids will learn the valuable life lessons of using their time wisely, prioritizing, and following a schedule (and even making their own as they get older).
6. Believe it or not, having a schedule allows for interruptions. If mom is sick, it is easier to carry on with the day-to-day, even when mom is couch or bed-bound. Or maybe you have an unexpected guest stop by; after that guest leaves, it’s very easy to just get right back on your schedule.
7. Life will simply be more enjoyable when your tasks are getting accomplished and the chaos and stress are reduced in your home.
Here is a little sampling of what our schedule looks like right now. And just to note – my husband recently began working from home, so he is included in the schedule and we are still trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’m still in the process of filling in the evening schedule, so that’s why it is blank.
When making a schedule for your home and/or homeschool, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. The first thing you should do even before you write out a schedule is PRAY! Pray over your schedule! Ask God to help you prioritize and be a good steward with your time (and the time of your children). Ask Him what activities you should include in your day, and what ones you should do without. If you are contemplating any outside activities this year such as sports, lessons, or a co-op, seek His guidance about whether or not to include these activities.
2. Have a master copy of your schedule posted in a central location in your home. And also give all of the children a copy of their own schedule. If your child can’t read yet, make them a schedule with pictures instead. Make sure you go over the schedule with each child too.
3. Ease into your new schedule. If you jump in feet first to your new schedule, you are just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Start out by just working on getting the morning routine down, then slowly add more structure to your day. Or start by focusing on the routines around mealtime and/or bedtime.
4. Be flexible. There are bound to be interupptions during your day, so expect them and don’t get worked up or frustrated if you get thrown off track a bit. When things settle back down, just jump back into the schedule at whatever time it is. You should also be a little flexible when it comes to switching activities – if you are done a few minutes ahead of time or a few minutes after, don’t stress about it.
5. Stop at the scheduled time (or close to it). I know this may sound contradicting to what I just said in #4, but you need to stick to the schedule (with a few minutes wiggle room). If you are in the middle of an art project or science experiment you need to keep an eye on your time and give yourself enough time to wrap things up; if you don’t finish your project that day, you can pick up where you left off the next day.
6. Your schedule is not set in stone. If you are finding that something just isn’t working or doesn’t feel right about the schedule, take a step back and reevaluate; it’s okay to make changes. And as children get older, as more children are added to the family, and as the seasons of life change, so will your schedule.
7. Give yourself enough realistic time for each activity. If you feel like you are cramming everything in, it may be time to reevaluate what activities your family can, or should, live without.
8. Don’t just schedule specific times, also schedule places. If your child is supposed to do his independent reading from 1:00 – 2:00, where is he supposed to do it? In his room? On the couch? In the hammock? Where would you like your preschooler to play with her busy bag? At the kitchen table? In the schoolroom? Make sure your children not only know when they are supposed to do something, but where as well.
9. When making your schedule, schedule in the must-do’s first, like mealtimes, schooltime, Bible time, etc.
10. Schedule time with your little ones first. I have found it beneficial to “do school” with my toddlers and preschoolers first as they seem to be the ones who need their mommy-fix the most at the start of the day.
11. Have the bigger kids help with the little ones. Schedule times when an older sibling can help a younger one with math or reading, or have an older sibling read to the baby or toddler (this is a great job for the emerging reader). Have the big kids help with meal prep too; that way you have some extra time to work with another child instead of making lunch.
12. Don’t let your schedule rule you. Focus on your goals, not the actual schedule. It’s okay to take those rabbit trails now and again, after all, that is the beauty of homeschooling.
13. Schedule a ‘quiet time’ for everyone. That includes you, mom! Everyone’s quiet time doesn’t have to be at the same time, but just make sure everyone has a little quiet, alone time at some point during their day. Whether it’s reading a book, swinging in the hammock, or building a Lego castle, quiet time is often a welcome refuge when you a part of a large family.
14. Start your day before your kids wake up and start it with some quiet time with the Lord. Ask the Lord to guide your actions, words, thoughts, and feelings throughout the day. Ask Him for strength, perseverance, and patience. Completely surrender your day to Him.
I hope you were all able to glean a little something from the above tips. I know that every family and homeschool is different, so what works for one family might not work for yours – and that’s okay. Take what works for you and leave the rest. And that’s why I’m going to leave you with some links that you can visit to see how other families schedule their homeschool day – putting together a little bit of advice and wisdom from here and there might help you find what works for your family.
Creating the Perfect Homeschool Schedule from Upside Down Homeschooling
Organizing Our Homeschool Day from Medina Mom
What Does Our Homeschool Day Look Like? from Paradise Praises
5 Things to Consider When Planning Your Homeschool Schedule from So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler
Homeschooling Planning for a Large Family from Contented at Home
Our Daily Homeschool Routine from Are We There Yet?
Having a Routine vs. Following a Schedule from Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Daily Flow Framework (with ADHD in mind) from Training Happy Hearts
Homeschool Schedules – AUGH! from Hiding the Peas
Organization from Grace-Filled Homeschooling
Making a Schedule from Tolivers to Texas
A Day at Our House from Tolivers to Texas
Homeschool Daily Schedules from Every Bed of Roses