I don't know about you, but my head is spinning as I am putting together our schedule for the upcoming school year. How did summer fly by so quickly? I had a conversation with a friend last night that reminded me just how much more simple it can be to homeschool if I plan my time wisely. She was laying out her schedule with five children in four different schools, two in seminary, three in young women, one in activity days, etc. It reminded me of the gift of time that I have been given with my family. It is tempting to fill it with activities to keep my children's social appetites well satisfied. It is also tempting to over-plan curriculum for each of my children, biting off way more than I can chew and certainly more than they can chew without choking! There are so many wonderful resources that it is difficult to choose the very best and only the best. Here are some things that I am trying to keep in mind as I plan for this year. Maybe these things will help you too.
Focus on Building Systems First:
When are we going to do chores? How are we going to divide the responsibilities so that the house runs smoothly? It is so important to have a plan. Homeschooling is a family affair. Don't try to do it all myself. Children thrive when they feel responsible.
Keep it Simple:
If the systems are too complex they will not last. Keeping a simple rotation of chores and doing them at the same time of the day will really help everyone to fall into a family rhythm.
Create Good Habits:
Sleep is so important for me and for my children. Establishing when my children (and myself) will go to bed is essential. How and when will I plan and make dinner? When will I exercise? When will I shower? When will I have time to read my scriptures? I have to make sure that I have worked good habits into my daily schedule to avoid burning out.
Decide what is Essential:
Strip down our education to what is essential and do these things first. That way if anything comes up we will not be derailed. For example, math and language arts before our history unit study.
Empower the Kids:
Make checklists/schedules to give to my children. This places responsibility in their hands and they can complete things independently. These can be very general lists but will save me when someone gets sick or is having a bad day.
Teach some Subjects Together
Which subjects can I combine? Can I kill two birds with one stone? It is easier and more fun if I pull my kids together to learn a few subjects. What can I simplify and have the kids still learn and benefit from?
Plan Recovery Time:
I always forget to plan time for us to recover from an activity. I plan things back to back and forget about people being hungry or tired or cranky (including mom). If I make sure there is give in our schedule we will all be a lot happier.
Make Time and Space for ME:
This is not selfish, I repeat, this is not selfish. Have some boundaries! If I go and go I will drop dead and that is no good for anyone. Keep my room to myself. Don't allow my children's toys, books, or laundry to be strewn all over the place. That way at the end of the day I will have a safe haven to recuperate. Get up before my kids get up and start my day the way I want to start my day. This way I am prepared with a clear head and a mountain of patience when the kids wake up and chaos ensues.
When I come up short at the end of every day, forgive myself and remember all of the things that were accomplished successfully. Don't let expectations weigh me down. Try my best each day and forget the rest.
Rely on Heavenly Father:
Remember I can't do this alone. Pray daily and seek inspiration and be open to it when it comes. Be willing to forget the plans I made and adapt to the plans that He has for our family.
Happy Planning! I wish you all the best!