Time Management for Today's Homeschooling Parent

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time" (Ephesians 5:15-16a).

Time management is a very valuable aspect of homeschooling successfully. Organizing curriculum lessons, household errands, church activities, doctor appointments, and home maintenance are just a few of the things homeschool parents must manage each day.

Since you only have 24 hours to eat, sleep, shower, homeschool, and relax, how do you get it all done? Become more efficient with your time by incorporating these essential time management, organization, and planning strategies into your homeschooling:

Develop a planning system.

Whether you use a professional planner, a computer spreadsheet, or the family kitchen calendar, all homeschooling families need a guide for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activities. Eliminate frustration and the disastrous consequences of getting dates and times mixed up by noting field trips, library visits, homeschool co-op meetings, church activities, regular test days, extracurricular music lessons, and sports activities on one centrally located calendar.

Note: Monarch and Switched-On Schoolhouse Christian homeschool curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications have a built-in global calendar that can be used to record not only daily assignments, but also weekly and monthly activities like those mentioned above.

Double up your work.
Multi-tasking may sound like a scary word, but more often than not, you're probably already doing it. The secret is to get more creative in your organizational talents. Can you combine all your errands into one trip? Can you make two or three meals at a time instead of one? Can you clean the bathroom while also getting ready for the day? Can you feed the baby while reading a book to your preschooler? Look for more ways to do double duty!

Delegate responsibilities.
Too many first-time homeschool parents make the mistake of trying to do it all. Burdened by household chores, as well as teaching, many parents quickly burn out on homeschooling. To maximize your time, assign age-appropriate chores like meal preparation, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, and pet care responsibilities to your children. Getting your children to take an active role in daily living tasks is imperative to making more time for academic studies. Remember, many hands make light work!

Determine realistic academic goals.
The biggest single time management mistake made by most homeschool parents is misjudging the time necessary to complete schoolwork. Learn to build success into each of your children's daily assignments by planning for the big goals and working backward. List each child's courses, assignments, projects, and activities for the year. Then, break down each subject further into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Allow more time for subjects your children may find difficult and don't expect to complete every lesson in your curriculum during the year.

Discuss problem areas with your child.
Tired of wasting time trying to teach math to your sleepy-eyed teen in the morning? Although you may think math is most appropriate in the morning, your night-owl might do better tackling math at the end of the day. The joy of homeschooling is that you can customize your daily tasks, activities, and teaching around what works best for each child and the family. Time management bottlenecks can often be fixed by allowing your children to come up with solutions to scheduling problems and organization.

Discard time robbers.
Learning to say "no" doesn't mean you're a bad homeschooling parent. Over-commitment to certain activities will cause unnecessary stress to both you and your children. Keep a list of your family's main goals and don't let others coerce you into doing more. After all, more is not always better! Plus, learn to discipline yourself and stay away from other daily time robbers like texting or talking on the phone, surfing the Internet, and watching TV.

Do what makes you feel most organized first.
When the sky is falling and there isn't time for everything, do what keeps you sane first. Even though you could write hundreds of things, make a list after your children are in bed and pick four to five things you need to accomplish during the next 24 hours. You'll be happier and teach more efficiently and effectively knowing you knocked off the "must dos" for the day.

What about your homeschooling family? Have any time management ideas that have worked for you? Please, take a moment to share your best time-saving tip in the comment field below.

Comments(10 comments)

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TERRY T 08/06/2009 04:47:26

Wonderful!!!! HUGE HELP*****we use the LARGE desk calendar for all of our "DATES" Everyone is color coded. My husband hung it on our wall which I was against because it would take up to much space and it just didn't match anything in our kitchen; but I was WRONG. I would be lost without it. It does take some time to input all information but it saves you more time cause there's no excuses for not knowing who needs to go where or what's going on. Everyone has time, you can either make work for you or loose it; it's how you manage it. I tried to vote for 5 stars but for some reason it would only let me vote 2.

MICHELLE S 08/06/2009 07:29:35

The tip regarding the time of day that children works best is so true. After battling for months, trying to get my 7th grade son to concentrate and do his work, he just realized that he works better at night. (Maybe since 9 yr old and 3 yr old siblings are asleep and the house is quiet, or maybe since he's a "night owl".) So, now he sits down at 9pm and does ALL of the NEXT DAY'S work. He usually finishes around 11pm, and I let him sleep-in late since all he has to do is a few household chores before having his "free time". I encourage parents of teens to try this; it has made our homeschooling so much easier, and now I can held my 4th grader more in the mornings!

T W 08/06/2009 08:00:59

I agree with the time kids will do thier best work too! My son does better early, so he often starts two hours earlier than siblings. He gets done earlier and likes that after noon off feeling. I am also going to take that desk calender colorcoded idea from the comment above and use it! As well as the making things that are not a priority to my home and homeschool get put on back files. I do way too much because I think we need to that really we could do better at the jobs we have if we just don't add in so many extras! Thanks!

SONYA L 08/06/2009 08:26:37

Wow! Sounds very helpful. I'll be homeschooling my three children for the first time this year. I'm a little nervous, but I know it is the right thing to do. Thanks for the information! Sonya L

KATHERINE M 08/06/2009 08:45:46

This article has been very helpful. This will be my second year homeschooling my 1st and 2nd graders and two preschoolers. I have taken the Summer to plan the whole school year at my leisure. From shopping lists for each unit, to looking up vocabulary words, to recording call numbers for library books I'll need throughout the school year. It has been much less stressful planning, and I will have more time to fold laundry, cook, etc. instead of planning a month or two at a time. I have been using my cell phone calendar only because I can set it to alert me when there's an appointment or event. Also because I'm not that great at actually looking at a calendar. I've limited extras because between the ripping and running and rushing the kids to finish their work so we can make our events on time is not worth it. As homeschoolers, we feel like we should do it all, but there will be plenty of wonderful years ahead to experience those things. Have a great, less-stressed year!!!!!

TERESA P 08/07/2009 10:38:57

This article has been a refreshing reminder and encouragement for getting ready and focused for yet another year of school. Planning, delegating, setting realistic goals and minimizing "time robbers". I also agree that it is good to involve your kids in some of the preparation for what they want to accomplish for the future as well. As per the above comment, I would like to caution those who use their "cell phone calendar only". (not sure of the above emphasis... or was ii "only because") I tried that in the past (I too was not great at looking at the calendar) and became very lost about appointments, field trips and other activities when the cell phone crashed! I now post a wall calendar for us to update weekly and use the cell phone to give reminders during the day. We try to make it a point to check the caledar the night before and set everything out by the door for the next day that has to go with us away from the house. I also keep a list of my contacts in a rolodex too. I hope this helps someone. I just had to share! :)

ALLISON S 08/10/2009 00:39:28

Joe & Allison S. This will be OUR first year to home school (7th grade) and it seems to be overwhelming. Nevertheless, my husband and I are very optimistic. Thanks for the advice on the wall/desk calendar, I hadn't thought of that one. I'll be purchasing one before Wednesday (his first day). I look forward to further advise. Everyone keep your spirits up, we're all going to need it.

JULIE T 08/10/2009 08:18:12

I really like the idea of looking at the calendar the night before and setting things by the door....that way, for those Dr's visits and sibling activities, you can carry your child's work with you and not get so far behind! And for those who have never heard of Accountable Kids, it is a great chore system that helps your child learn responsibility and self-discipline. It incorporates many character building attributes. I found them at a homeschooling conference, but I'm sure you could google them! Highly recommend the program!!

ADINA H 08/11/2009 07:37:05

I am starting my 9th year of homeschooling-I have 2 boys aged 14 and 12. This is the first year I am using SOS; I have used traditional methods until now. As a natural organizer my first years were very fustrating for me and my family- I overscheduled everything from chores to activities and tried to recreate 'regular school'. I almost gave up homeschooling for the sake of relationship with my children(I am very glad I pushed through). The positive change in our homeschool came when I realized my children learned and worked best at certain times of the day-late morning/early afternoon; and accepted that it was ok for us to do things differently than others(isn't that part of the privilege that comes with homeschooling?) There are still times it gets a bit crazy financially, emotionally and physically-life is like that- but we were able to find our families curve. Now, all these years later, I am glad I threw out any preconceived ideas of what a homechooling education should look like and embraced what God had for us. I can't imagine our life any other way

PATRICIA V 08/17/2009 04:32:04

My husband and I have 7 children and this will be the start of our 17th year of home education. We have used a large lesson plan book to keep us organized. I write all of the required subjects for the day, and the children know exactly what to do for their assignments. I leave two columns blank for "Other" when unexpected things come up. Documenting what you do each day helps not only with accountability, but it shows you where all of your time went to. I write in our doctor appointments, field trips, grocery shopping errands, etc. By the end of our school year, when I'm thinking "What did I do this year?" or "I feel like I did not accomplish a whole lot," I can SEE that we did actually learn what we were supposed to, plus a whole lot more! Our Youth Pastor once said: Do ONLY what YOU can do, and delegate the rest. Moms need to teach. Our children have assigned chores for a year. This eliminates confusion as to WHO is supposed to do WHAT, and it helps the child to become proficient; learning life lessons. Thanks for your suggestions! They really do work!

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