SummaryWhile home for spring break, Anna Eileen was reminded that sibling fun and study time don’t mix, but these four simple strategies can minimize distractions.
This past month, I returned home for my spring break. Since spring break lies in the middle of a semester, I had homework to complete over the break, including studying for an important test.
On one of the last days of my break, I decided to sit down on the deck and get some studying in while I was watching my younger siblings.
I soon remembered why I often had a hard time devoting my full attention to my studies during high school.
My siblings came up to me about every five minutes needing something or wanting to show me something, and it was very hard to resist talking to them and giving them the attention they wanted. I finally threw in the towel after my two-year-old brother scribbled on a worksheet that I had carefully completed.
I say this not to complain about my siblings or my spring break, but to illustrate the common predicament that many homeschoolers experience.
It’s challenging to balance the desire to interact with family and the necessity of being productive.
I have been reflecting on what I and other homeschoolers I know have done to try to minimize distractions of any kind, but especially that of siblings. Here are some of the things I remember:
1. Try to maintain a routine.
It helped me to have certain times of the day that were dedicated to school. That way, I would not feel guilty about telling my siblings that I can’t do xyz task at that moment.
I had my study time every day, and eventually they learned to be better about respecting that. I would try to make my study time coincide with theirs so that they would be busy and distracted.
2. An all or nothing mentality is sometimes best.
While, with easier subjects, some degree of multitasking may be okay, I have found that most of the time it is better to either completely focus on family or completely focus on school.
For example, when babysitting, it was tempting to try to sneak away and study while my siblings were playing, but I would often get frustrated when they would return five seconds later and interrupt my studying.
By being present in the moment and allowing myself to enjoy my time with them, I became a lot less stressed, which allowed me to do a better job on my work once I was done watching them.
3. Do your hardest subjects during nap time.
The members of my family who are too young to do school work take naps or have quiet time during the afternoon. I imagine that many other families are the same way. One thing that really helped me during high school was to take advantage of those two hours of quiet.
I liked to go for a walk and have lunch right before nap time so that I could approach the quiet hours ready to be productive.
Latin was really challenging for me, so I often used this time to focus on my Latin homework. This was also a good time to complete any tests that were a part of the day’s schedule.
4. Get creative with your transportation to other study spots.
For most of high school, I did not have my license, and I did not get a car until I graduated. Despite this, I was still able to get away and study outside the home on a regular basis. Sometimes, I would ride my bike to the library or to my grandparents’ basement, both of which were very close by.
About once a week, I would go to work with my dad and either use the mostly deserted common area or go to a nearby coffee shop or park.
Even though I could study outside the house only once or twice a week, I would put in a lot of study hours during those days so that I could afford to take it slower at home.
These strategies took me a long time to learn and put into practice. I really didn’t get most of this stuff down until my senior year.
I hope that my experience will help current Seton students better manage distractions during the school day.