Like a lovely wedding homeschooling benefits from a good dose of planning (Especially true if you have several children.) and a good dose of flexibility. Taking some time to plot your course will provide focus and avert many crisis as the year goes along. Realizing just that come August and September we get busy…often planning an overly optimistic course of action.
Then…that’s it. That is our planning. The problem is, it’s not enough. By midyear, we’ve lost our focus and may be beset by guilt about all we haven’t accomplished. We have a vague sense of not being where we should be.
In a book I recently read, the author took 1/2 day per week to evaluate and plan her homeschooling schedule. Now that is a bit much for me, but the basic idea is a good one. When I had all the boys at home I would spend the time they were at their piano lessons to chart out the next week and make sure we are working toward our goals. It gave me a chance to adjust our goals if they were overly or under ambitious. That little investment of time payed big dividends in terms of my peace of mind and ended up saving me time during the week.
The point is not how much time you spend planning, or whether you plan weekly or monthly, but that you take some time out occasionally to regroup. Sometimes we get so busy ‘doing’ that we feel that taking the time to refocus is wasting valuable time, especially when there is so much to get done. The truth is, a little time off now and then you will save you time in the long run.
Our state (public) schools have regular ‘in service’ days where teachers come to school on days the students are not there in order to catch up, organize, and regroup. It is a great idea for homeschool teachers as well. Plan 5 or 6 ‘in-service’ days throughout your school year. Perhaps you and another mom could trade children for a day so that you can really focus. I’d suggest you get out of the house as well. I found that when I was at home without the kids all of the little chores I hadn’t been able to get to kept calling my name. Working at the library or a Starbucks made it easier to really concentrate. I could catch up on correcting all their school work, getting my calendar in order and evaluating how our curriculum choices were working out.
Other times, the most productive use of an ‘in-service’ day was to stay home and clean out the school cupboard, reorganize the bookshelves, and straighten up my desk. My kids kept all of their school stuff in a ‘school box’ and just like any other area that gets regular use…it’s needs a de-cluttering on a regular basis. On these days I’d inventory my stock of paper, markers, science and art supplies etc., so that I could purchase what we would be needing while I was out.
With all the roles we juggle as moms, we need the occasional catch-up day. Even if it means the kids miss a few days of school, it will pay of in renewed energy and focus in the weeks that follow. As a last point, realize that all the planning in the world can’t bring total order to your life. There will always be unexpected emergencies or bad days. Be flexible and adjust, confident that tomorrow or next week, you can get back on track.