Below you will find a printable schedule for your home.
Homeschool Tip #2: The Schedule
(prayer, chores, special rules, order of subjects)
Following the schedule in your homeschool is more than just “getting school done”. The schedule is a tool to help us grow in perseverance, self-discipline, and, ultimately, in the virtue of fortitude.
“The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause.” –CCC 1808
There are some things I recommend you do BEFORE you start your homeschool day. We want our homeschool lesson time to be a focused time with as few interruptions as possible. In my house, I have some special rules for Homeschool Days:
- Make your Beds
- Get Dressed
- Do Chores
Make your beds – soldiers in the military often say that it orders their mind to make their bed before they start their day. Even young children can make their bed. I make this very easy for my children by not even using a “flat sheet” so that even as young as 4 years, my children can make their bed. They just have to pull up the comforter. Having a simple job to do, which contributes to the family community and brings order, helps train young children in following a schedule.
Get Dressed – sometimes homeschoolers like to do their lessons in their pajamas. If this works for you, then great! Every time I have allowed this, I am jarred back to reality by a child who works sloppily and throws a temper-tantrum every time they face a challenge. So, over time, I have learned how to get started on the right foot! I have found that requiring my children to get dressed before we start lessons helps them grow in self-discipline, which is needed in their schoolwork.
How do I motivate them? My children have to make their beds and get dressed before they come out to eat. Food can be a great motivator!
Find out what motivates your children. It might be a walk before the lesson day, outdoor play time, or a special food or drink with breakfast.
Tip: Avoid using TV as a motivator. TV can have its place in family leisure time, but it promotes passive brain function, so watching TV before doing lessons actually disengages the brain so that lessons will become an uphill battle. Save tv or movies for the late afternoon or evening family time.
Do Chores – Chores are a great way to allow young children to contribute to family life! Even young children can sweep the patio, water the plants, or bring the laundry into the laundry room. Assign chores so that your more active children (little boys!) have an outdoor chore to do, or some heavy lifting. Heavy chores include mowing the lawn or taking out the trash.
Use chore time to encourage self-discipline, and also to give some physical activity to your more active children.
I always found it a challenge to enforce doing chores. We give our children an allowance for doing chores, and find this is also a great way to teach them to manage their own money as well. When I tried putting chore charts on the wall, I could never keep up with them – especially when I had a toddler that was at my feet. My solution? Printed chore charts that I keep in my Homeschool Crate! I made these myself, and I have a separate sheet for each child. When the children come in for lessons at 8:30am, I hand them the sheet and have them check off with a dry erase marker the chores they have done. Having them written down helps minimize back and forth arguing over who has which chores. I keep these in my Homeschool Crate so they are within arms reach!
In our last post (LINK), we talked about the importance of “Being Present!”
I mentioned to Start with Prayer. In the Christian Homeschool, prayer:
- Shows your children in a concrete way that you are starting a special part of your day
- That your lesson time is important
- It’s a concrete way of offering our work to God and reminding our children that “the word of God must be always in our MINDS, on our LIPS, and in our HEARTS” just as we show when we are at Mass.
At Regina Caeli, we also offer all our work to God by writing JMJ or AMDG at the top of all our work! You should remind your children to do this at home too – since it is a constant reminder that our studies, our conversations, and even our struggles and victories are all for His glory. If we start with prayer, then we are inviting God and Our Blessed Mother into all our conversations. You will see that grace will abound in your homeschool if you start with prayer!
Next, plan to start with the subject that takes the most time. Usually this is math. Math is best to do first thing, since it is black & white, and it takes the most time. Your children will have a great sense of accomplishment after completing math! Students at Regina Caeli in 6th -8th grade will typically spend 40 minutes on math, and High school students need 1-1.5 hours of math. When your child is done with math, they should give it to YOU to check, or they should “Check Out” the answer key from you so they can check it themselves. Remember to keep your answer keys handy in your Homeschool Crate so you can always Be Present during lesson time.
Breaks! We all need breaks to keep our focus. Let your children have breaks, but use a timer. This provides a neutral indicator when break time is over. I make break time during homeschool time different from regular play time by requiring my children to wear shoes outside. This is just an outward reminder to them that this is a “school day” and this break is temporary. Find what works for you!
A Word on Boys… Sometimes homeschool parents think that organization and following a schedule are only realistic for girls. Boys may push back more when you try to work on these skills, but that only means you need to expect more of them. If we want our boys to grow to be hard-working, manly young men, who do not shirk duty or run away from discomfort, then we need to expect more of them. This begins with expecting them to start their lessons on time, and to work hard. Be sure to have consequences if they don’t follow through (true for girls too!).
Great chores for boys, even young boys, include mowing the lawn, washing the cars, loading the firewood pile, or fixing the fence. Boys need to experience this hard work, which “speaks their language”. Laborious work is good for the mind, and it has clear physical consequences when it is not done well, as well as positive effects when done properly. Observing this cause and effect will benefit a young man in many ways during his life.
Following a schedule will help your child grow in self-discipline and the virtue of fortitude, blessing your homeschool journey into the future!
For more Homeschool tips, follow the Regina Caeli™ Blog!