Organize Your Homeschool for Success

 

Organize your homeschool for success.
Prov. 29:18 says, "Without a vision, the people perish." Another version says, "…the people run wild." Homeschooling without a vision is like getting on the Internet. You click on this link, then the next link, then the next, and all of a sudden you realize you don't know how you got to where you are or how to get back to where you started. Here's how to organize your homeschool for success:

First: Set Goals
Set long-term goals. Decide which subjects you are going to teach each day of the week. You are not required to teach every subject every day. For instance, many homeschoolers alternate teaching science and social studies daily or weekly or even do science for 1/2 year and social studies for 1/2 year. Older students can do math 2-3 days per week, doing 2-3 lessons per day, and still cover the same amount of material they would have covered doing it daily.

  1. If you are doing unit studies, write down all the topics you are studying for the year. For those of you doing unit studies or a lot of mix and match curriculum, a must-have resource is The Checklist by Cindy Downes.

  2. Determine the amount of time you need to spend on each topic (or unit). For instance, if you are teaching 6 topics in physics (electricity, magnetism, light, sound, heat, and uses of physics), allow six weeks for each topic (36 weeks divided by 6).

  3. If you are using textbooks, figure out the amount of time needed by dividing the number of lessons or pages to be covered by number of times (days) you will teach the class. (Example: BJU's Heritage Studies for Christian Schools for 3rd grade has 183 pages. Because you are required to have 180 days of school, you need to cover 1 page per day or 5 pages per week.)

  4. List the resources you are going to use to teach the topics. This includes worksheets, library books, textbooks, lab equipment, etc. This will give you a shopping (borrowing) list. Do this one semester or unit at a time.

Set short-term goals.

  1. Make a list of your priorities. a) personal relationship with God,b) husband, c) children, d) job, which in this case is your homeschool, e) ministry/outreach, f) other activities. Keep this list in front of you at all times so that when you are planning your days, you will keep these priorities in mind.

  2. Use a daytimer with time slots. Write in what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. Here's where you get specific. Put in reminders. Remind yourself to go to the library, order books, sign up for an activity, etc. Schedule breaks. Write down appointments for time with your husband, family time, and personal time for yourself. If you write them down, then when you are tempted to say "yes" to something, you can look on your calendar and say "No, I'm sorry, I already have an appointment at that time." No one needs to know what that appointment is! For personal time, find a friend with kids of similar ages and exchange babysitting time. Alternate who goes out for time with the girls or to shop while the other watches the kids.

  3. Use a checklist. Every morning, make a list of things to do and then stick to it as much as possible.

Second: Manage Your Time Wisely
Why? It's Biblical! (Eccl. 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.") You can begin to manage your time wisely by using time-saving tools:

  1. Purchase an answering machine with Caller ID. Don't answer the phone during school time unless it's urgent!

  2. Purchase a portable phone. Do your housework while returning phone calls!

  3. Use E-mail. It takes less time than talking on the phone. The questions and answers are brief and you don't get sidetracked on new issues.

  4. Multi Task. Cook dinner or fold laundry while listening to drills or memory work; read or listen to tapes while traveling in the car; have children read to you as you are ironing, etc.

  5. Postpone or eliminate low priority items. Derric Johnson in his book, Excellence is Never An Accident said, "Stress is what happens when your gut says 'NO' but your mouth says, 'Of course, I'll be glad to.'" Learn to say NO. You can't do everything. Anything that doesn't meet a specific need should be eliminated.

  6. Focus on one day at a time. Don't worry about what you have to do tomorrow or next week. Matt. 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

  7. Delegate to others those things that anyone can do. Get the kids to help with housework. Pay a maid if you can afford it. Hire an older teen to teach your preschooler once or twice a week.

  8. Pray! Ask God to show you what's important. Listen to the Holy Spirit over advice from friends, relatives, and even homeschool consultants!

  9. Get your husband's input and agreement.

Third: Evaluate

  1. Ask yourself at the end of each unit, semester, and year, "How can I improve next time?" Then write it down so you'll remember.

  2. Keep good records: (1) Keep a daily Log Book. (2) Maintain a portfolio for each child. (3) Issue your own report cards or keep track of what you have covered in The Checklist. (4) Keep an ongoing transcript of work done for high school level coursework.

  3. Tweak as you go. If it works, don't fix it. But if it's not working, don't be afraid to change midyear even if it costs money.
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Copyright © 2004 - by Cindy Downes