As a parent who is teaching their children at home, you will quickly find that the hours in each day seem to shrink at a shocking rate. Between housework, errands, perhaps an at-home-job, or a baby to take care of, it can be tough to always be in the right frame of mind for the day’s lessons. This is why so many parents choose to send their kids to childcare and kindergartens and just not to teach their kids at home at all. They simply can’t find the time and energy to do all that has to be done.
One option is to exchange quality for quantity and get an hour or two of really important activities in with your kids each week, but here are SIX TIPS to staying on track, being more productive, and having less stress in your days.
1) Daily Planning
By planning your day in advance you will always be on top of things and will be able to accomplish so much more than you thought possible.
By planning ahead, I felt more in control and I got much more done. It doesn’t take a lot of time to plan ahead at all. I would simply get my notebook out and make a list of what needed to be done the following day. This included everything no matter how small or big.
I tried not to set time limits on anything though. Whenever, I would put activities into their own little time block I found that it stressed me out a lot more than if I just went down the list. I would begin my list with what I wanted to accomplish first then end it with what I hoped to get done at the end of the day. I would then put an asterisk next to the things that absolutely had to be done and if they did get completed I was a happy camper. If I also had time to get all of less important things done, I was darn near ecstatic! Having at least some sort of structure will help to make your days less stressful.
2) Remain Flexible
While it’s very helpful to plan ahead and have your daily-to-do list, you also want to remain flexible. Sometimes you wake up and the morning somehow gets away from you-perhaps one of your kids is sick, you get an important phone call, you have to take the dog to the vet because he got sick eating out of trash. When this happens, look at your list of things you wanted to get done for the day and try not to stress too much about it. Choose what’s truly important and what you are comfortably capable of doing with the remaining hours in the day.
3) Keeping Younger Ones Busy
When I started teaching my youngest who is 3 years old and I tossed him right into the learning lessons along with my older girl. Of course I made the lessons age-appropriate, but it was easier to teach everyone at once rather than trying to cater to each child individually all the time.
When I had something to do and couldn’t be right there for the kids, such as cooking dinner or going over the monthly bills, I would let older girl teach her younger boy. She had fun playing teacher since it made them feel grown-up and boosted their self-esteem and confidence levels as well.
4) Shorter Lessons
Something that really helped to keep my kids’ attention was shorter lessons. Before I decided to go this route, we spent an hour or so a subject and I found that my children quickly lost interest and usually started acting up. Someone would give the other “that look”, they would squirm in their chairs, someone would get poked in the arm with a pencil, paper kept mysteriously falling on the floor…. you get the picture.
Once their focus was lost, it would be hard to gain it in again. By keeping the lessons to 15~30 minutes we got a lot more done, the children enjoyed the time more, retained much more information, and I felt a whole lot less frustrated. As they got older I increased lesson times accordingly, though many times a half hour is all that’s needed. I wanted teaching my children to be enjoyable, not pure drudgery for any of us.
5) One-on-One Time
If you are teaching multiple children, it’s important that you set aside one-on-one time with each child. Although you might not be able to do it every day, scheduling in one child per day or every other day works too. Since I was teaching kids at once I would schedule one child for Mon/Wed/Fri (older girl), the other for Tue/Thu (younger boy).
Each child would get an hour or so alone with me to work on any lessons they needed help with, to vent about problems, or simply read a book together. This alone time with parent is very important so that each child feels special and knows they are being heard and recognized.
6) Take a Time Out
There will be times when you are ready to pull your hair out, run out the door, or go into your room and shout like hell. The kids won’t listen, one is fighting with another, your toddler has a crayon up her nose or chewing the paper, and you have just about had it. I used to think there was something wrong with me and my kids. Why couldn’t I keep my cool? Why were my kids acting like wild animals?
The two biggest changes that helped in these areas were the shorter lessons I mentioned and taking a time out when needed. Kids don’t have to have you right by their sides every moment during lessons. If you are feeling minutes to walk around the house or backyard garden, go to your room and do a few minutes of deep breathing exercises, a brief meditation, call a friend, or something else that will help you calm down and recoup your senses.
True, teaching children at home has it’s challenging moments, but the rewards are more than worth it. Try to be as prepared as possible each day, keep lessons short, spend some individual time with each child, and take a time out when necessary. Over time, you will discover what works best for you and your family and you will find that your days are for more productive.