Homeschooling has been a blessing for our family, because it allows us to be our children’s guides during their formative years. It also helps us trust that we’re setting our children up for a successful future, while keeping them on a righteous path that leads to God. I often pause to remind myself of the blessings homeschooling has brought our family, because, well, it also can be a challenge.
The best way I’ve found to make homeschooling work for our family has been to find a routine that lets us pack a lot of productive work into our mornings. This allows us to give our children the afternoons to pursue their own interests – because that’s an important part of their education, too.
Here are my best tips for getting homeschooling work finished by noon:
1. Research your curriculum options.
There are so many choices these days for homeschooling parents. You don’t have to use a curriculum that’s boring for your child or takes them hours to complete. I know my children and their needs best – after all, that’s one of the reasons we choose to homeschool. After much research, reading reviews, and talking to other homeschooling families, we’ve found curricula that work for each of our kids’ individual needs and abilities, allowing them to complete work that interests them in a timely manner. That generally means we’re not spending much more than 30 or 35 minutes on each subject.
2. Don’t “drill down” every day.
I’m often able to incorporate history and science-related topics into my children’s other daily activities – meaning they don’t need to spend time completing formal lessons in those subjects every day. For example, we might choose not to do a science lesson during our homeschool time on Tuesday morning, so we can take a little extra time to work on math instead. That afternoon, we might go out and take a nature walk, observing the creation around us and connecting it both to what we know about God and to what our science curriculum teaches. It is a joyful way to learn!
3. Keep the learning going.
One of my biggest worries about the “done by noon” philosophy was that it leaves about eight hours after homeschooling is complete until bedtime. Then I realized that my kids were still busy and learning even after we’ve finished our official lessons for the day. So now, formal language arts lessons happen in the morning, followed by some independent reading time in the afternoon – which is something my kids enjoy, so they don’t think of it as “school.” The same goes for an afternoon drive to the store, where I might put on a history podcast for us to listen to in the car. Surprise, kids: You’re still learning!
4. Start with their favorites.
This might seem counterintuitive, since you’d think saving your children’s favorite subjects or topics until last might motivate them to work harder. But I found that my children would rush through early lessons to get to what they really wanted to do – so they weren’t retaining as much. Now, each child starts with his or her favorite topic, and they’re all able to get in a good groove that keeps them working and motivated until lunchtime.
5. Encourage independence.
I’ve found that my children are a lot more productive when I’m not looking over their shoulders. They’re also a lot more likely to share their thinking and learning with me when it happens on their own. So I make independent reading, Bible study, and journaling a part of each day’s activities. My kids are motivated by how much independence they have, and it brings me so much joy to see how insightful they can be completely on their own.