Staying on Task!
by Tamara Eaton
Parkinson's Law: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
"How can we stay on task? What should take a couple of hours ends up taking all day. I'm exhausted, the kids are stir crazy and the house is a mess. HELP!" --Homeschool Mom
Developing a workable homeschooling and homemaking schedule often takes experimentation and flexibility. What works for one homeschool family won't necessarily work for another and each year can be different due to varying circumstances and changes in children's ages and needs --still, here are some basic principles we've found helpful over the years.
* Establish a good routine, be flexible and allow room for interruptions but have a basic plan for your day. For example you might want to get everyone up by a certain time, eat, dress, quickly clean up kitchen, main living area all by a general time.
You've probably heard of Parkinson's Law: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." This translates to mean --if you don't have a general time limit to basic things, it could take all day!
Because of my personality, I tend to plan to do less than what I actually think I can do, which usually works out about right. Otherwise, if I wrote down everything I thought I could handle, I wouldn't have enough time for interruptions and all those important hugs and kisses along the way. Not to mention that I'd burn out the children fast!
* Ease into new routines; don't try to change too fast from "summer-holiday" relaxed mode to fall "let's get our act together right now" efficiency!
* Introduce new topics of study slowly. Why not just cover math and reading the first couple of weeks or so? Throw in a little writing each day.
* Give a reasonable amount of time to each subject and break them all up by doing fun things or lighter subjects in between. It's amazing how much children can learn even in 15-20 minutes spurts and often you really get their full concentration this way.
* Help the younger children get started on their work; keep them close so you can supervise, work with them, encourage them, and keep them focused. This helps them learn good study skills and prepares them to be faithful in their work when they are older and working independently.
* Consider working four days a week instead of five. For example, on Fridays, clean up the house a little extra in the mornings or maybe do some baking, then enjoy educational projects, computer games, or videos in the afternoon.
* Don't try to cover all the subjects in one day. Instead, try doing a little history two days a week, and science two days a week, or even alternate weeks, have a week or two of science a couple of times or more a week and then a week or two of history --or devote a semester to each so you can cover them more in depth.
* Look for fun educational resources and hobbies that the children will want to do in their spare time. These things "count", too, and make learning painless!
For example: we've taken advantage of educational computer games (we don't allow "mindless" ones!), videos from the library, and recorded good specials from educational television. In younger grades, we covered many subjects simply by reading aloud interesting biographies or other non-fiction in the afternoons after naps, or before bedtime. A chapter a day doesn't take long and they absorb so much!
We try to pace ourselves so that we are learning all the time, but in a low-pressure way. We find we actually get so much more accomplished this way and homeschooling remains a joyful experience instead of a stressful one! We also don't hesitate to take breaks to catch up on housework or laundry when necessary. Relax and make time to plan a routine that works for YOUR family!
"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, "You are my God. My times are in Your hand..." --Psalm 31:14-15
Additional articles on Time Management:
"Homeschool Management Tips"
"Homeschool and Housework"
"Managing Our Time"
[Note--If you don't know the Lord in a personal, saving way--find out how you can be set free from all condemnation and receive Eternal life, as well as His daily help and guidance! (Knowing God)
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the publication to :Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
We have always homeschooled our six children (elementary through high school and beyond!) and enjoy encouraging other families in their homeschooling, parenting and in the Lord! For more help and information, please join us on the Christian Homeschool Fellowship Message Board.
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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."