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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tips for a successful school day

After about 5 years of teaching my children, I have finally figured out ahead of time what will help me to have a good day. I've experienced huge motivation to get my act together after too many days when everything that could has gone wrong, everyone's upset and I feel that I'm failing miserably in this daunting task called homeschooling. In the last 2 years I've been somewhat consistent at implementing these changes and I can attest to their awesome improvements!

So, here are a few things that if I can manage to accomplish all these things will pretty much guarantee a successful day of learning in our house.

1. Wake up on time 
For me sadly, this is no small thing. I am the queen of sleeping in. For years I've not thought it possible for me to consistently wake up early. I do think my body needs more sleep than some to stay healthy, and for this to happen realistically, I have to get to bed at a regular hour the night before. Truthfully, this has taken a few years to realize how really important this is and how it affects my attitude and even my outlook on life.

2. Read the Word of God
Taking at least a few minutes to focus my day. Vital. I do this before I even get out of bed.

3. Turn things over to Him
I recognize that I will mess everything up if left all to myself (constant reliance on the Spirit throughout the day, I need LOTS of reminders). This is VERY important.

4. Get dressed and shod...

... and not just sweatpants and t-shirts, when I'm really dressed I feel better and if someone comes to the door, or I have to run out quick, I'm ready. In our line of work and in this country, people show up at ANY time and it used to be such a frustration for me... not anymore, I'm ready for 'em ;) Now if I only could manage to have a meal ready at all times... heheh. I've found this helps my Beloved to relate to me in a manner I really like as well. I dress everyday with him in mind.

5. Establish the kids in their own morning routine.
I'm actually in the middle of implementing this right now. My kids wake up before the crack of dawn, NO MATTER WHAT time they went to bed. They would wake up and play (boys play loud) and then play until lunch time if left to themselves. I would regularly get frustrated when I called them down to breakfast that they weren't dressed and their room was a mess. Now, I've created a checklist of things for them to do before 8am - breakfast. I now just need to get them a clock for their room to make sure it's all done on time, and without reminders!

6. Have plan in place for breakfast, the night before.

This could be as simple as just knowing what we're going to eat, or it could mean actually preparing it ahead and having the table all set.

7. Do not turn on the computer before starting school
I know myself. I have a hard time just checking mail! In my mail there are ads that I just have to read, my AmblesideOnline or Spell to Write & Read and MathUsee yahoo groups to browse, and then there are notes to respond to and links to freebies and all the rest, and before I know it, I'm late starting... again.

8. Keep the little kids nearby at all times.
This is vital to a peaceful day. If the kids are nearby, I can sense when trouble is afoot. When I get busy or distracted and they are left to themselves, I discover little messes around the house made by sneaky, hungry kiddos. Not to mention, I get frustrated at the frequent sometimes fierce combats that ensue upstairs that cause me to have to run up to play policewoman before someone is killed. If they are with me, this doesn't happen. We like being together :)

9. Having a plan 
Sounds obvious, but... Knowing what I'm supposed to be teaching and what the kids are supposed to be learning and doing each day, let alone at certain checkpoints throughout the day, is absolutely essential. I need several planning days a year (speaking of which I haven't had one for...TOO long - no wonder I'm a mess ;), in order to keep on top of all of the kiddos learning requirements. I actually benefit from having a daily schedule that keeps all of life a little more trackable.

10. Keep 'em busy!
My Beloved and I have had a tumultuous last year with moving back here to Peru, hosting various guests - some with moderate stays, and just the extreme busy-ness of ministry and cross-cultural dealings. We don't have TV, and limit movies to once a week or so. The kids don't play outside in the neighborhood because it is unsafe... all this has meant many days where school consists simply of the basics and the kids are left with lots of free time. While free time cultivates creativity perhaps, my kids creativity doesn't seem to need any cultivation, it's in full bloom! What they need more of is direction. So, making sure their assignments are clear, giving them work to do around the house, and even providing directed play or project ideas has been very helpful. This includes keeping the little ones busy while we do school with the older ones. Having toddler and preschool activities on hand at all times has helped immensely.

So there you have it :) That's what we do...

What do you do?  Please leave a comment or a link to your helpful homeschool management tips?

This is a repost from the archives at my other blog:


momtofivekids said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. This is the first time I've had a chance to visit yours. It looks great! I love this post. This is our 12th year homeschooling and these are great tips you shared. I needed to be reminded of these things. I just went though a move and we are about to start school again. The kids have gotten out of their morning routine. I'm going to post check list for them today.

Jennifer said...

Hi Amy, this is Jen from over on the AO year 0 list. Just wanted to say that I've been lurking on your blog for about 2 months now and I LOVE it! THANK YOU so much for all the great resources. This list is especially helpful to me - as I'm just starting to gear up for my first AO year 1 ever. It's encouraging to see that you, too need structure. I often wonder how you find time to do all these things & blog about it too!! I guess you don't sell yourself short on sleep, as I had assumed - oops. Again, thanks for all the tips.

busymomof5 said...

I love your blog! It has been a real encouragement. I am wrapping up my first year homeschooling a 4 & 5 yr.old with a 3yr old, 18mo. old, and a new baby added this year, now 8 months. Needless to say it has been full of frustrations. I am wondering if we really accomplished much at all...other than mom learning some things NOT to do next year! :) My question for you is...would you mind posting or emailing me some of your toddler activities you mentioned having on hand during school time? I am a little amazed we have survived this year alive and well with no little bones broken! LOL Thank you so much.


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