How I Work and Homeschool Successfully

The working homeschool parents desk.

“Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.”  – John C. Maxwell

Trying to work outside the home while homeschooling is not an easy task. I know this because I have worked part-time and full-time, in the home and outside the home since the beginning of our homeschooling lives. It would be silly for me to tell you “follow these steps and it will be easy.”  Nope, can’t do that. It won’t be easy. After all these years trying this trick and that method, I know what works and what doesn’t work and have found tools to help you be a successful working homeschool mom or dad.

Before we talk about the usual planning and scheduling let’s take a look at curriculum choices and methods of homeschooling. These are simple things you do to make working and homeschooling easier. Picking a simple curriculum and approach will help you homeschool and ease any anxiety that your not doing enough.

CURRICULUM CHOICES

Lesson planning is probably the most time consuming task. Purchasing your curriculum is a lot more fun then lesson planning. To save you time All In One Homeschool and Ambleside Online are the best choices.

Hands down the easiest, least expensive curriculum is through All In One Homeschool Everything you need is all in one place. Each daily lesson plan gives your child clear instructions on what they are to do for that lesson. You will need to print worksheets out but that’s about it.  I have friends, besides myself, that have used this with wonderful success. It’s amazing! For high school students there is  All In One High School.  It is free or you can make a donation.

 Another program is Ambleside Online. A wonderful program that is also FREE and lessons are already planned for you.  It follows a Charlotte Mason approach that means books are necessary. They have provided all the information you need to obtain the books needed for the courses.  Plus there are lesson plans and curriculum from Year 1 to Year 12.

METHODS OF HOMESCHOOLING

This will probably be the only time you see me suggest CYBER SCHOOL, available through your public school.  I mention this because it is typically just like public school except your child is at home. It is different for elementary student then for the high school student.

My friend uses this type of program and she goes over her 3rd graders work while her husband helps with any homework when he arrives home in the evening.  

The CHARLOTTE MASON approach is perfect for the harried homeschool mom. When my boys were about 7 and 8 years old we had to live in a hotel suite for about two months while we were looking for a place to live on Oahu, Hawaii. It was hard living in a hotel room a.k.a. small suite, searching for a home and still trying to educate. This method worked because we would read books from the library and went on many nature walks. All we needed was our sketch books and colored pencils.  A “living” education.

Become the  RELAXED homeschooler by  narrowing your teaching down to the three r’s: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  Read Ruth Beechick’ books: The Three R’s and You Can Teach Your child Successfully  she shares just how simple it can be. This can be practiced in the case of an emergency such as a job loss (happened to us.)

In all honesty, I believe every method can be used while working. However I have found that Charlotte Mason and Relaxed homeschooling lend themselves to a naturally less structured day. At the same time you know you are making progress.

Planning and Scheduling

The planning of homeschool is the easy part. It’s the act of working out your schedule that can be daunting. That’s why I like BLOCK PLANNING with a twist.

BLOCK PLANNING and Priorities

I discovered I am terrible about giving directions but I want to talk to you about priorities and why setting your priorities will keep you together. Then watch the video on Block Planning.

PRIORITIES

  • Spiritual
  • Personal
  • Family
  • Job

My priorities are listed in the order of most important to least important. Spiritual is at the top of the list. What that means is if I am asked to go for coffee (personal) it will need to be scheduled after my time with God (spiritual). If I am going to get a haircut (personal) and my son decides he can’t walk to the gym that day (family), he will have to wait until after I get my hair done. These are examples of how I use the list of priorities. These priorities also turn into my blocks for planning with coordinating activities designated to each priority block. Take a look at how I use the Block Planing method. (You can get the complete planner by clicking on the image.)

Example of how I use Block Planning

Within these blocks you will have detailed information.

  • Home includes doing laundry, meal prep, house cleaning and any house projects.
  • Personal might include a night for a long shower or bath, haircuts-time just for you.
  • Homeschool will have lesson planning, reviewing children’s progress, activites.

Now you can set time allotments for each area.  I give myself an hour a day for Home activities. But because my schedule varies from week to week I can move around the blocks to accommodate my job and still get what I need to, done.

Give more time to areas that are a priority which can also change.  If your child gets sick than you may decide to make less time for your Home block.  

I am also specific about what my priorities are for the month, week and day. That means you need to remain flexible at all times. Move things around when you need to. I will always pick my children when they are experiencing life dramas over getting a haircut. Hahaha !

To be successful at homeschooling while working you need to take a look at your curriculum and homeschool approaches. You will prioritize your plan and skillfully schedule.

If you have to work, you have to work. After to talking with several homeschooling mom’s they rather focus solely on being a homeschool mom. If that’s what you rather do or move towards not working, here are some helpful book’s to help you reach that goal.

You may find the way that I block plan helpful while working and homeschooling. You can download the blank year at glance, month, week, and day planner by clicking here to get your Free planner.

How to Motivate Your Son to Read

A Happy Boy Reading Books

After my oldest son moved away to college he confessed to me that classic books are a far better read than some of the nonsense published today.   My oldest son also told his Grandmother that he enjoyed poetry because I used to read poetry to him and his two younger brothers.  Yes, I did pat myself on the back and couldn’t be happier.  I felt successful.  If you noticed I have three boys and each one is different.  You know how that is, children are unique, and maybe that’s why you homeschool. To customize your child’s educational experience or maybe you purchased pricey curriculum and you are determined to get your son to read the material.  But it is not a simple process to customize or follow a curriculum.  If your son is not interested in the topic you are likely to feel him digging his heels in the dirt and your hair falling out.  What are we to do?

Go to the Library

When we first started homeschooling I had the fortune to learn about  Lifestyle of Learning an approach to homeschool that resonated with me.   A suggestion from the author was to take your children to the library and let them select books that they would enjoy reading.  This has been the best idea to motivate my sons to read.  Not only did they voluntarily read but I got to know their interests better.

Read-Aloud

Many of you may already have a special time to read-aloud together.  I have heard from many homeschooled children that this was a special time and a happy memory for them.  When your children are not reading on their own, it is an opportunity for them to hear great literature inspiring them to read quality literature in the future.  This is a great opportunity to share your love for reading and another time where you will discover your child’s favorite genre.  An important key to reading aloud is to not make this a drudgery.  Most young boys are active and will gladly sit while you allow them to do a quiet activity while you are reading.  My oldest son enjoyed sitting next to me while the youngest two built with blocks and colored.

Book Club

One of the homeschool groups I was a member of had the wonderful idea of a book club.  It was a book club for boys but I don’t remember if we just all happened to have boys or what.  Keeping up with your peers is an incentive to do about anything.  The boys met at our library (45 minutes from where I lived).  I can still see the big smiles on their faces.  I forget to mention that I was responsible for the book club.  Our first meeting was fun.  Jokes were told while the boys shared about what they liked to do and laughter filled the back meeting room as they ate cookies.  The first book was Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary.  They just thought Ralph, the character, was the neatest thing.  The boys read the books and enjoyed the comradery.

Reading Incentive

When I worked for a homeschool correspondent school we started a reading incentive program.  When the student read a certain number of books, depending on the grade level,  a small prize was given.  For each book read, a link to the bookworm, a paper creature stapled to the wall, was added with the students’ name and the title of the book.  The bookworm ended up twisting and turning through the office.  We had a lot of happy kids and satisfied homeschool parents.  To do this at home you will want to have a start date and end date.  Let’s say you decide that it will last for three months.  Your son is 10 years old and says he hates to read.  You want your son to feel accomplished.  Remember, the goal is to create a love for literature.  If reading 3 books would be an achievement for him then that’s his goal.  When you share this with him and he thinks 4 would better and that’s what he wants to do than follow his lead.  You know your child best.  If you believe that he will feel defeated if he doesn’t read four books,  then make it 3 books and 4 books would be a bonus.

Read, Read and Read

Read, read and read some more.  There is nothing better than a model like yourself.   If you enjoy reading then more than likely so will your child.  It can be hard though when boys don’t have a male role model that reads with them or is seen reading.  This is true across the board for many areas in a boys life.  You can research this further in The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  In my household, I am the big reader, not my husband.  Oddly enough my sons enjoy a good book but with video games and social media, it is a challenge.

Goal Chart

Not much different than the reading incentive idea is to use a goal chart to track the books he reads.  This is a nice visual that can motivate your son to complete the chart.  What is different from the reading incentive is that you can have a goal of 6 books for the year but have 12 on your goal chart.   The idea is much like a game.  Once the goal of 6 is achieved seeing that you can go further your son may think “I can do one more.”  and so on.  Of course, he may read the 6 books and be happy with that.

Be Positive and Encouraging

No matter if your son reads online magazines, articles, graphic novels or classic literature, recognize that he is reading.  Never be judgemental about what he is reading (within reason).  Take an interest and perhaps read what he is reading.  Be positive and encouraging.  He may not want to read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens but instead, he would rather read The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey.  He is reading and that is a good thing.

These approaches have been collected from seasoned homeschoolers and they work.  The hardest part is finding what will work for your son.  And I hate to tell you, what works today may not work tomorrow.  You may not be aware that all the effort you put in today will be seen years later, like me.

What are some ideas for motivating your son to read?