We can set out with the best of intentions – have a waking up time, have a routine, have our lessons all planned and then stuff happens – sickness, behavioural issues, visitors, appointments, other commitments – how do we find time to homeschool?
- Accept that family life is a part of your homeschool experience – but interruptions don’t have to control you. Discern between those things that you can control and those that you can’t. When the things you can’t control happen (like sickness and behavioural issues) do what you have to do – and monitor and direct the other things like visitors, appointments, and projects
- Protect your mornings as much as you can – or whatever your prime focus time is in your family. When I started homeschooling I told my friends I wasn’t available in the mornings – I was with my kids. It is much like holding down a job – your friends don’t call you when you are at work. But I have to respect this too and not call my friends during the morning when I should be with my kids!! I also like to have the phone on answering machine during our focus times though with a business run from the home this hasn’t always been possible.
- Make a teaching moment from any interruption. When we keep in mind that we want to teach/train the whole child we can make any family situation a teaching moment – from whatever is happening we can reinforce our family values and belief system, we can encourage character, we can practice skills. We may well have a season of life where academics takes a back seat but that doesn’t mean learning is neglected. Alternatively, there may well be lessons to be learnt from the places you go – learn about the human body, health professionals, caring for a baby, watch a new building project develop, follow maps as you travel, let the kids work along side of you in your project.
- Take your studies out and about with you. We never leave home without a book! This means the kids can read and learn in the car, at the doctors or dentist waiting rooms, and even while I’m visiting a friend or person in need. As they have grown older they have been able to take their studies, other than a book, with them. The library is a safe place for kids in our town, so sometimes I drop them off at the library if I have other things to do. I give them some browsing time, and then they need to get into their studies. One of the best resources for being out and about with preschool age kids is Preschool Activities in a Bag. I have a friend who uses these while she is visiting and at appointments.
- Be flexible – sometimes it does work to shift our study time around the interruptions – sometimes it doesn’t but at least think about it as a possibility. This has worked for us, especially when the kids are older. I know everyone tells you the morning time is best time for clear thinking, but in real life people have to think in the afternoons too.
- Make time in your day for life – in our family we have the afternoons where we can make appointments or play dates. Dividing your day up into blocks that serve various needs in your family will mean you can have more control over the balance of activities.
- Always have some work the kids can do independently. Teaching your children to focus without you by their side is one of the key skills we can teach a toddler/pre-schooler. For them to be able to play and entertain themselves will lead into them being able to focus on a puzzle or colouring in or playdough by themselves, which will lead into them being able to read a book, work on a math sheet or drawing by themselves. Individual activities vary depending on the student and the stage of learning they are at. We have a portion of our focus time in individual study every day with activities like: handwriting, math, typing, music practice, finishing notebook pages, reading, art or tech drawing, of course as they get older more of their studies are independent and the affect of family life can have less impact.