SummaryA homeschooling mom for over 11 years, Kara Milinovich offers three simple steps to help your family get on a schedule to finish the academic year strong.
The intense roller coaster of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum are over, and it’s time to return to our school routines and the flow of regular days filled with school work and chores.
Yet it’s always so hard! It’s getting warm, buds are forming, plants are flowering, and the itch to be outside after the winter hibernation is intense.
How do we finish the school year strong and get back to the grind?
Below are three essential steps that you need to follow:
1. Make a schedule.
Of course, you had one at the beginning of the school year, but you know what…it’s not going to work right now.
The basics of the rhythm and flow of the day will work, but the breakdown will need to be changed.
There is no school day schedule you make that will become permanent. The honest reality is that as the children get older they will need more time in certain subjects and less one-on-one time with Mom.
As the year has progressed, you may have noticed that one child is nearly done with one subject and could use extra time on another. Making a schedule for this last stretch of the year is critical. It will bring life and excitement back into school days.
Remember to include prayer, meal prep, and clean up, as well as downtime. The kids need to see there will be scheduled time for fun. Let them see that if they do their work they will be permitted to go outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun’s rays!
There are two camps out there for the hardest subjects: one says to do it first and get it over with, the other says to start small and progressively get harder and end with the hardest.
The first camp says that you ‘eat the frog’ and thus get the hardest-to-you subject done first thing in the morning while you are bright and alert. This works well with some people, as the rest of the day is smooth sailing for them.
The other camp’s children will fight you tooth and nail just to get out of bed and get their day started, simply because they feel overwhelmed with their hardest subject looming ahead like a dark, ominous cloud at the start of their day.
For those children, they may do easy-to-them subjects that don’t take very long first and thus gain momentum for the rest of the school day. Yes, that hard subject that will take a whole hour is left, but in their mind, they already knocked out nine things. They may feel encouraged that it’s only one subject left in their day and then they will be done.
The simple truth is that you know your children best and what will work for them personally. If you aren’t sure, ask them. Attempting to make the schedule together is wonderful because they have a say in how their schooldays will flow.
Ownership makes everything sweeter and easier to swallow!
2. Stick to it.
You’ve created a customized schedule for your child and now you can sit back and eat bonbons on the couch! Right? Maybe in 20 years, but I doubt it! They need your loving encouragement to stick to the schedule and you need to help!
Oftentimes that means planning ahead with meals so that on days when a little one gets sick or the kids are in a funk, you can coach them along a bit more and spend less time on your usual tasks. Additionally, you may want to plan special outings to local trails and parks; planning ahead will make this less stressful and actually a great motivator and blessing!
Recently, we’ve been introduced to the idea of freezing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Okay, hear me out…you make a bunch at a time (depending on the size of your family and the space in your freezer) and freeze them in individual baggies.
Pull them out in the morning or an hour or two before lunch on the days you need them and they will defrost on the countertop and taste freshly made. This makes a quick meal even quicker.
In our house, it was fun for the kids to see so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at one time and I liked knowing that when I don’t have any leftovers in the fridge and everyone is hungry, I can have a ‘plan’!
Additionally, work hard at keeping the extra distractions at bay. I know you’ll want to get outside too and take time off for outdoor fun, but not during those core school hours; the kids need to see you on-task as well! Try to schedule doctor visits and dentist appointments on the same day or consistent days in order to limit disruptions to the schedule.
The extra effort will show when the kids are staying on-task and finishing strong without the need for reminders!
Remember when I said no schedule is permanent? Well, neither is this one.
A few weeks down the road you’ll be able to see some errors. Oftentimes it wasn’t realistic. Maybe we overlooked times in the day that are naturally full. Maybe you forgot that before dinner everyone did a quick clean up and never accounted for that in the schedule.
Or maybe you realized that your child would do better with 20 minutes of English in the morning and an additional 20 in the afternoon. Look at where improvement is needed and fix it. It’s always a great lesson to illustrate to our children that we can keep improving until we get it right.
You can do this! Finish strong and enjoy some summer days to refresh yourself!