Going to the toilet, getting a drink, wiping a sniffly nose, broken pencils, getting a book that was left some place else, finding lost things, the list goes on for the number of little interruptions that can slow down our learning times together.
Often we accept these interruptions in our own house and then cringe if they do the same thing when someone else is the teacher (Music lessons, co-ops, sport teams, Sunday school etc). This is an indication that their behaviour doesn’t really line up with our values and we should do some training at home.
Sometimes interruptions and disturbances are going to happen. You can never plan a head cold and stuff happens in family life but that being said, when we are a little proactive we can reduce these to the absolute necessary ones.
- Make sure your children are ready for study/focus. In our family when we leave the house I would check that they are ready to go to town, or visit someone. Have you been to the toilet (this doesn’t get mentioned these days LOL), do you have hat, shoes, waterbottle, book? We need to do the same before study time: have you been to the toilet, do you have your pencil case, book, notebook, waterbottle, and whatever else your kids need.
- Make time between lessons for transition. This is the time they can dash to the toilet and/or get the books or equipment that they need for the next lesson. When we plan 30min lesson slots, and the lesson takes 30min we are going to ‘get behind’ or we are going to get annoyed at the kids needing to go to the loo!
- I have found giving the kids individual supplies has helped chisel down distractions. Their own pencil case with pencils, scissors, glue, eraser etc, their own place to keep their books and a waterbottle they bring to the desk. Though it is good to learn to share, we need to choose when is best, considering our objectives, to teach those social skills. There is still plenty of opportunity to consider the other person during our study time, but having their own supplies makes getting ready quicker.
- A place for everything and everything in its place – this covers two aspects. A place for all our school stuff – books in general plus library books, different papers, art supplies, math manipulatives, science kits, etc. We have found making up boxes for similar items, and having it labelled has helped us be more orderly though it is a constant challenge!
- Have a pick up time – though things should go back to where they belong before something else is pulled out – the ideal isn’t always the real. So when our kids were little we had pick up time before lunch. This is a time to tidy desks, pick up the floor and just catch up on putting things away. We’d do the same as a part of our 5.00pm chore time.
- If you have little ones, plan their day as much as you plan for your students. They can sit and listen to stories, then use quiet time activities during your instruction time. While your students are writing or making (and only need your supervision) then you can have face-to-face time with your younger ones. If you can leave the intense subjects (which will vary from student to student) but may be learning to read, and math to the times your little one is asleep giving you more ability to focus on instruction.
Most of our lessons have a teaching aspect and then a recording aspect. I try and encourage the kids to stay at the table during the teaching/conversation aspect and then go and do/get what they need as we make the switch to recording (notebooking, lapbooking, workbooks, technology etc). This is both respectful to the lesson that I have planned, as well as respectful to the other student (their sibling) who is learning alongside of them. I think this is good practice too for when they are in more traditional learning environments when a teacher will expect them to hold on or choose their timing appropriately.
You may also like to read:
Linking up with: