Two Simple Tools for Smoother Homeschool Days

"Procedures pages" in my half-sized clipboard

We've been at school for over a month now, and as of this week we finally have all our various external classes and activities running full-steam. This year we have only three kids at home. How did THAT happen? Last year it was four, the year before five, and the year before that six! The daily parts of living are certainly becoming simpler around here. But other aspects of parenting continue full-steam ahead. I've heard it said that with little ones, your hands are kept full, but with older children your heart is full. There's definitely something to that.

Anyway, I wanted to share two things that have been helpful in getting this year off to a smooth start.

1. Procedure Pages (A.K.A. Mom's Cheat Sheets)

I have a large school binder loaded with all sorts of important info like literature lists, schedules, attendance records, grade record sheets, information about our online classes, and so on. This binder has many of the planning details for our school year, but sometimes what I need is quick access to the "hows" and "whats."

And that's what the "procedure sheets" give me: instant access to daily schedules and the week's flow for various subjects. No more wondering, "Now what am I supposed to do for Latin on Wednesdays with Ben?"

That one is for me, but this next tool is for the kids.

2. Weekly Assignment Pages 

By the time our children reach upper elementary and junior high, we want them taking more and more responsibility for accomplishing their own work. Junior high is a great age for working on study habits and skills. By high school they are largely on their own for scheduling their days. (I give them slots when they need to meet with me, and they have to work around their online or community college classes.) This has resulted in pretty seamless transitions to college (and real life) where they must take personal responsibility for their time.

When the older ones were at home, I didn't have time to hover. We laugh about the impossibility of being a helicopter parent when you have nine children! But with my youngest two sons, that could be a real danger, so I find myself frequently purposefully backing off.

Weekly assignment sheets have been a super helpful tool for the boys as they organize their week's work, and make it so I don't have to ask, "Have you done your math yet?" There are many, many weekly student planner templates available in the internet world, but I like this one from the Five J's blog.  You customize it by typing the particular subjects for your child. For many of Paul's classes, the daily work is very straightforward, so he just marks off when he has finished the day's work. In other classes, it is helpful to plan exactly what needs to be accomplished each day, so that also goes on the chart. Paul has been using charts like this for a year or two, and he (and I!) find them indispensable.

Ben, 6th grade, is not as crazy about keeping tabs with his work on a chart as Paul is. Nonetheless, I think there's a lot of benefit for him in doing so, so we continue to work on it.

Responsibility is essential to becoming a mature adult. Look for opportunities to develop responsibility in your kids, whether it is in tackling their chores without reminders, caring for siblings, or doing their schoolwork.

"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much."  (Luke 16:10)


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