If you’ve ever wondered what a day in the life is like for introverts in the homeschool environment, then read on as we give you a real-life look into the introvert’s homeschool world.
When I decided to homeschool my children, I went on a shopping spree buying things that I thought would be ideal for a homeschool room. In my head, I pictured what a typical classroom would have in it. Since my only knowledge of what a child needed to learn came from my own experience in the public school setting, I naturally gravitated toward sites that sold teaching supplies for a classroom.
Over that summer, I prepared our sunroom to become the place where all learning would happen. I promoted myself as the teacher. Creating the perfect space alluded in my mind with creating the perfect day. If everything was in place, then the day would go off perfectly without a hitch.
Sounds easy, right?
Homeschool Schedules Do Not Work
Part of my room décor included a schedule chart. This fabric hanging banner had pockets to easily place subjects and times for each inside. It seemed to me that a daily schedule was important for a homeschool day. After all, schools have schedules. I didn’t want to deviate too far from what my girls were used to since I had just pulled them from public school.
It took only a few weeks before the schedule chart was merely a decoration on the wall. No one used it to keep track of what we were doing. It was silly to think that my twin 7-year-olds were going to study it and keep time. It was not like them to be concerned about watching the clock.
When I tried to keep up with the schedule, I found myself worrying more about the time that I had allotted than the reality of how long it was really taking to do something. I may want to spend only fifteen minutes on spelling, for instance, but if we needed longer to go over a lesson, we shouldn’t have to stop to stay on schedule. If we are having group time, I may think that an hour is enough, when we may get through our group study in less time. My concern for the time became a distraction from what was really important.
As an introvert, distraction can make it difficult to focus on what is important at that moment. Most people deal with distraction no matter what their personality type, but for introverts, it can feel like clutter in their lives. Since we tend to “live in our heads”, if there is a timer in our brain ticking away as we sit with our child while they are reading, this distraction takes us out of that moment. We can easily miss when the young one finally reads that word they have been missing correctly or when they read the same word wrong over and over and we don’t catch it.
In addition, it seemed like every time I tried to write down a specific schedule for the day, out of the blue some crisis would come up. It could have been the sudden stench of a stinky toddler wandering around the room or a lost pencil or a sick visit to the pediatrician’s office. Even enjoyable activities like a field trip or a day at the park with friends can feel more like a distraction when the schedule you were planning is suddenly scrapped.
If rigid schedules do not work in the homeschool environment and introverted moms find this unneeded stress distracting, how should introverted moms plan a homeschool day?
Introverted moms can plan a homeschool day that is routine-based yet flexible allowing for meaningful social interactions and activities when appropriate. It is important to consider family needs and life in general when creating a homeschool plan. Equally as important, it should also include downtime for everyone.
It is difficult to tell anyone how a homeschool day should be organized because I firmly believe that everyone’s homeschool looks and feels different. This is simply because your children are uniquely and wonderfully made and only you will know what they need to learn and how they need to grow.
However, there are some methods of homeschool planning that are beneficial for any homeschool parent, especially for those of us who desire to create a sustainable homeschool environment. (In other words, how to prevent homeschool burnout.)
What is a Sustainable Homeschool Environment?
For something to be sustainable, it must be able to be maintained or kept going at a certain rate for any period of time. This ensures that what can be done today can be done tomorrow.
When creating a plan for homeschool, it is important that homeschooling parents think realistically about their expectations. For families with multiple children, it may not be sustainable to expect to tackle every subject every single day. It may not be sustainable to use a different curriculum for each child in every single subject. For moms homeschooling one child, it may not be sustainable to push them to do multiple lessons, even if there is time for it.
What we think is reasonable as we are planning out our homeschool routine must be something that we can imagine doing on a regular basis. If we are flat out exhausted at the end of the first week or if there are strained relationships from kids who didn’t cooperate, then it is not sustainable for the long term.
Tracking the Real-Time it Takes to Homeschool
If you search the internet you will find a huge variety of homeschool planners available for purchase. Whatever kind you can imagine, you will probably find it. There is nothing wrong with having a homeschool planner and referring to it often. The problem with using a planner isn’t in the planner itself. The user may simply not know how long anything she is planning will really take.
It is important to take the time to learn how long tasks really take. The only way to figure this out is to track time initially to see what is realistic. When creating a budget, financial experts will say that tracking your spending helps to see what is really going on with expenses. After tracking spending, it is easier to set up a realistic budget that plans for each line item that must be paid every month. When it comes to a homeschool day, having a realistic idea of how long certain subjects will take to cover while building in time for interruptions and downtime will make it easier to understand how to plan out a homeschool day.
Instead of creating a homeschool planner initially, keep a log or journal and track the time needed to use a new curriculum daily or how long it really takes for your child to finish his math assignment on a regular basis. There may be room for improvement with these times due to other issues, but for now, it is important just to keep it real.
Take notes on what happens throughout the day. You may find this information to be invaluable as you discover there are times in your day that feel more “uphill” where at other times, it is more relaxed. Here are some things to think about as you are tracking and observing your homeschool day:
- How long does it take to transition from one subject to the next?
- Do you notice any patterns to everyone’s behavior when you are working for a large block of time?
- During independent work, who needs more handholding?
- Does the day start to stall when you come to a certain subject?
- Do you seem to set aside a certain subject regularly because you never seem to have time for it?
Answering these questions will help you to put some perspective on how the homeschool day should really flow. The only way to know how to answer these questions is to live it. New homeschool moms want to have a plan in place before they start a homeschool year, but the reality is that until you get going, you simply do not know. Therefore, take the time to drop the “Type-A” tendency to plan and become an observer of your time.
Creating a Flexible Homeschool Routine that Sticks
After a period of tracking, it becomes much easier to sit down and imagine a realistic routine. You will feel more confident about your homeschool plan and can even invest in one of those beautiful homeschool planners if you like. If the idea of using a homeschool planner brings more stress to your life, then skip it. That is really for the individual to decide. The beauty of a routine is that everyone gets into the natural rhythm of it. Routines help kids to know what is coming up next without needing to be told.
The key is to remember to not keep a routine so rigid that it starts to look like a schedule. It must remain flexible to the ebb and flow of life. Things can come up and will come up and when they do, it cannot sabotage our entire planner to the point that a bottle of whiteout is involved. (And always use a pencil to write in your planner anyway!)
Here are some things to consider when creating a flexible homeschool routine that will work for the entire family.
Plan certain subjects that everyone in the family can do together. Common subjects to learn together include the bible, history or social studies, science, and family read-alouds. This saves time and energy for the homeschool mom while creating bonds between siblings. You can still assign age-based work while keeping the topic the same for all students. This way, everyone can chat about what they are learning while keeping the work expected to their ability level. (And it is surprisingly common to see younger ones catch on to big ideas that you wouldn’t expect them, too. Just go with it!)
Create fun group activities and study times to learn and review lessons in even the subjects usually suited for individual work. It may make sense to assign individual work for subjects such as language arts and math as each child may be working at a different level. This is very common. However, it is beneficial to put those lessons to practice in real-life applications. For example, go out and show kids how to use money in real life or have the kids collaborate on a story together. This is where learning comes to life and will help to reinforce the lessons learned. These activities, sprinkled into your routine, will pay off in a big way when you see your child grasping their independent lessons. Recalling life experience makes the process of learning easier and the concepts are planted more firmly.
Set aside days or times during the week for outside activities and track the real-time it takes to complete those from start to finish. There are times when a sick kid needs to go to the doctor or a contractor needs to be called for a home repair. Life happens and that is when it is okay to set aside the day’s lessons until later. However, when committing to regular outside activities, knowing how those activities are going to impact your day will help in making sure your routine works. If you typically have group time where you go over Bible and history lessons on Tuesday mornings, but starting next month you have morning swimming lessons on Tuesday, then changing the Tuesday morning routine is needed. In the beginning, go back to observing how long it takes. Track how long it takes to get everyone ready, driving time, activity time, socializing time (usually the moms), driving time back home, and unwinding time once arrived back home. Is there time to fit either of these subjects into Tuesday swim mornings? You decide.
Block off downtime when there is absolutely nothing planned. Introverted moms need a quiet space to recover. Often, kids do as well. In my home, we find that most days we have quiet time before dinner. Everyone goes to their own corner of the home and the house becomes very still. I believe that even the space in which we dwell needs rest, too. Any tension that may have existed in the home has time to dissipate and peace and calmness can enter instead. So, moms make sure you recharge – it is important to find the right time in your day to give yourself some space.
Encourage independent exploration while keeping on task with planned coursework.One of the joys of homeschooling is to allow for interest-based or delight-directed learning. Letting a child choose the kind of study or style of curriculum to use at the beginning of the year is one way to encourage this, but there are also those exciting moments when you realize someone is really into what they have learned and want to study it further. You may have a child who gets the writing bug and wants to write their own stories all day. Your artist may find absolute joy in drawing pictures of historical events. Go with all of this. Set aside the planned activities and let their imagination take them on a journey into new and creative ways. For those concerned about taking too much time away from other lessons, build in time into your routine for creative exploration and remind your imaginative student that she will have time to work on her own projects at that point.
The homeschool day can be a time of enjoyment and purpose. As you observe and learn the natural rhythm of your family’s routine, you will find what works best for you. While planning out the day’s lessons, remember to make room for rest, creativity, and life application. These are the moments when everything you are working so hard to instill in your children will have time to plant and breathe.
What have you found that helps you or your introverted child succeed in the homeschool environment?