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The Importance of Planning Your Homeschool Day

People frequently hear how important schedules are for children.  Not only is this true for children of all ages, but it is important for several reasons.  Children like repetition because they know what to expect.  There aren’t any surprises, and everything is predictable.  When things in a child’s world are predictable, the child has a greater sense of security.  Feeling secure in their surroundings allows a child to experience life while knowing that certain necessities will always be met.  When a child isn’t spending time worrying what will happen they can find success in their schoolwork, home life, and all other activities.

For anyone who is thinking about homeschooling a child just starting school, or even a child transitioning from traditional school, routine is paramount.  If the parent starts homeschooling in a laid back, lackadaisical fashion, it can likely to turn into a muddled mess of a day.  When a parent begins with a routine of starting every school day at the same time, there will overall be less protests or power struggles.  Kids will know that at a certain time they are expected to be ready to begin their day learning.  It is also important for kids to know what days they are going to be doing school.  Some homeschool families prefer to have a longer school day and just do it Monday through Thursday so that everyone can enjoy a three-day weekend.  Other families may do school on one or more of the weekend days in order to be able to go museums and other attractions during the week when they won’t be fighting a crowd and there is ample time and space to look around.  Whatever works for your family is fine, but when the children know what to expect, it can lessen any confusion or desire to do something else.

Structured school days let a child know when they can look forward a favorite topic or subject.  This is why many traditional schools even have set routines.  It maintains consistency and everyone knows what’s expected of them and when.  There is no room for argument or discussion. It creates an environment that is geared towards getting the most out of the day.  Structure in homeschooling can be likened to a well-oiled machine. When all the parts know their role and everyone does their job, the machine works properly.

Many parents like the idea of homeschooling because there is freedom to teach what you want when you want.  This is a great concept, but when first starting homeschooling it should be done within a structured environment.  It is easier to start off having a rigid routine and loosen the strings where and when needed than to have a crazy day and children not knowing what’s expected of them.  When children don’t know what’s expected, the power struggles and bargaining start.  “Just five more minutes, Mom….”  Starting off the school year with a structured schedule can help to avoid any confrontations and establish how the days should proceed.

As the school year progresses, parents are able to tell how much they can veer off schedule and still keep their kids on track.  For some children, if you give them a little room to move they will still be able to function and do what’s expected of them for the rest of the day.  Any more than that and they are off track, wanting to be done and on to other things.  For other children, you may be able to rearrange their whole day and still keep them focused.  Each child is different, and after a few weeks to months the parent is usually able to have a good idea of how far off routine they can go without upsetting the normal schedule.

Along with the structure of the day is the structure of the work area.  If there is a spare room not being used, this is a great place to do school.  If there isn’t an extra room, it is important to do school in the same location everyday.  This can be the dining room table, a corner in the living room, or anywhere that has extra room for a small table, chair, and books.  Some families choose to have separate areas for different subjects.  This can counteract monotony and establish strong signals that when you are in a certain area you are expected to work on a certain subject.

Another very important time to plan in your homeschooling day is breaks.  When children are given time away from learning material, it can help them to focus better when learning.  A great way to do this is to let the kids outside to play or just expend energy.  This is frequently a time that kids look forward to, and it helps to break up what may otherwise seem like a monotonous day to them.  In order to keep structure in the school day, breaks should occur at the same time of day and for the same length of time.  The parents can decide if one long break works best or several shorter breaks are more fitting to their child.

Keeping the learning area neat and free from clutter is also something that parents can have their kids do.  When the child has cleaned up at the end of the day, the next time they are ready for school everything will be ready for them.  This helps with always knowing where textbooks or supplies are.  Keeping their area clean also teaches kids to be responsible for their work area, and in this case, their home.

If there are any necessary changes to the homeschool schedule, it is a good idea to let the kids know about it as early as possible.  When kids know what to expect, it makes things easier for them.  In the case of a family going on a field trip or other excursion, knowing about the trip upfront can be a fun time they anxiously await.  Often kids will find things in their lessons that relate to the upcoming field trip and begin making connections.

All parents will end up teaching their child in the best way for their family.  These guidelines are meant to help those who may be new to the idea of homeschooling or are concerned about teaching their own children and how the kids will respond.  There is no one right way to teach your children, and every parent knows their child best.  Incorporate your child’s strengths into the lessons, and over time what works best will be evident.  When you realize the incredible process you are taking on, it can seem overwhelming.  Help get off to a good start by establishing a routine and sticking to it until you feel more comfortable and know what works best for your child.

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