I‘ve been “going back to school” for almost 35 years now. That’s crazy! And while I’m no longer a registered student anywhere, I continue to learn. Thank the Lord. As a mom teaching her kids at home, one of the most important skills I’m learning is that of “planning.”
My own mother can attest to the fact that I’ve always been “a planner.” At a very young age, I would create lists of things to do or plan my birthday parties months in advance. While I’ve learned that not all my plans go the way I want them to, that doesn’t stop me from thinking through the coming weeks and months and developing strategies to help our family.
Together with my husband, I’ve realized that we need plans in place to help us enjoy our life together as a family, embrace the blessings God has given us, and learn as much as we can about the world around us.
Good intentions need feet if they’re ever going to go anyplace.
Here are some of the things I’m doing to plan for success in our school year:
1. Start with a clean study space.
I’ve spent the last week or so giving our school room an overhaul. While we “do school” throughout the house during the day, this is the headquarters for all our papers and books. And when we called it quits for the summer, I pretty much left it all where it was. So, I’ve cleaned up, sorted last year’s papers, recycled some, filed others. I’ve stored books that we might use another year, and pulled from the storage the books we need.
I’ve touched every school supply we own which helps me to know what to keep, what we have, and what not to overbuy. I’ve been guilty of going wild at Back to School sales only to find out that we already have a dozen packs of notebook paper at home. Not so this year. I bought only what we needed.
2. Have a meal plan.
I don’t know about you, but my children are hobbits. They are always hungry. So, having a weekly or even monthly meal plan — and the groceries to pull it off — helps us immensely during the school year.
Life just seems busier from September to May, so knowing in advance what I’m going to feed my family relieves a lot of pressure. Consider some of these make-ahead meal ideas to buy you valuable time throughout the busy school months.
3. Buy (or borrow) what you need.
One night I was lying in bed, contemplating my school book purchases. I mentioned to my husband that I was procrastinating. He advised me to make those purchases a priority. His reasoning was that I would be thinking about it anyway, and why not free up some space in my brain.
How right he was! I feel so much better knowing that we’ve ordered or borrowed everything we need for the first semester.
4. Create some type of record keeping system.
About this time every year, I print off attendance records, curriculum summaries, a school calendar, and a year’s worth of assignment sheets. I put together a complete homeschool binder that basically holds everything I need to keep track of our school business.
Having it all done at once helps me keep moving during the year. I don’t need to go look something up or make more copies, I have everything right at my fingertips.
I also put together a new personal/household planner for myself so that I can keep track of everything that my brain is trying to hold. It’s much easier to have it on paper.
5. Say no to good things.
This has been hard for me. Until recently we’ve not done a lot of outside activities. I always had a baby in arms and it’s been easier to do stuff “in house.” This year our baby is now three and potty trained, which gives us more flexibility. As such we’re delving into piano lessons, swim lessons, an art co-op, an online Latin class, and a science laboratory class.
While no one kid is doing all of those things, there’s going to be a fair degree of activity at our house, or out of our house, as the case may be. As such, I’ve had to say, “No,” to a wealth of other good things: a running club, a pottery class, and additional music lessons.
The best laid plans….
The school year probably won’t go exactly as we plan. There will be plenty of dips in the road that we will need to contend with. But, we can set up housekeeping in such a way that it lends us toward success.
With a meal plan in place, I can more easily handle a chaotic day. With the books we need on hand, I can easily grab them to do a quick lesson in the orthodontist’s waiting room. With margin in our daily schedule, I can feel the freedom to take everyone to the beach or on a hike and enjoy the great outdoors.
We can’t plan perfectly, but we can have a goal to shoot for.
What strategies do you put in place to have success in your homeschool?