When I began homeschooling, I followed my nature and planned. I didn’t write separate notebooks for each child, but I planned for me. As an aside, I have my own self-developed planner now which I incorporate into the large notebooks I receive from a curriculum vendor, but a bought planner that I particularly enjoyed was the Corebook developed by Tanglewood Education (www.tanglewoodeducation.com) I wrote long-term goals, vision statements, 5-year plans, annual goals, and daily plans. My homeschooling friends laughed at me, and maybe I’ll look back and say that I was a bit too methodical, but as of today, I’m glad I took the time to document—for myself—what our days would look like. What that rather extended activity did was to expedite our homeschooling routine. I’ve gathered peace where I once felt guilt about leaving our children at the table after Bible study and read-aloud time.
There are a number of planners available, either store-bought or developed from homeschool-specific vendors, for logging your student’s assignments. You can also develop a form that works for your school. These can be very economical (and sometimes free!), and the obvious benefit of filling them with upcoming assignments is that they allow your children to work independently, freeing your day to complete other activities. Personally, however, I’ve seen and heard an immediate disadvantage of the child-specific planner: it depends on you as the parent to list the assignments, one more thing on the list to do.
Although the routine has had some variance over the years—an extra workbook here or different teaching element there—we have stuck, pretty much, to the same schedule and basic subjects each year. So, without additional prep work (besides my own), our children know what is expected of them each day of the week. Unless we have an interruption (a field trip, travel, or unplanned event), they can sit with books and complete their work whether I’m around or not. Only once in our time at home was I too sick to get out of bed, but I stood astonished and thrilled that the kids came downstairs and did everything they were supposed to do, only consulting me if they had questions.
Routines are just what the name suggests—routine, boring, and monotonous. I can, however, offer the carrot in front of this ho-hum horse. As a college instructor, I reach out to students each day who are having a less-than-successful start in post-secondary studies. In some cases, they are simply not college material. However, in many cases, they are bright learners who could have an academically successful experience, but they lack the skills to be good students—discipline, time management, and concentration. As much as we hate to admit it, these are the roles we often play as parents in the homeschool. So the question becomes, how do we transition them to do these things themselves? Cutting them off cold turkey after 12th grade doesn’t work in many cases, so we have to create an environment for certain habits to form. Moreover, those habits must form in us first. We can’t lead where we aren’t willing to go; how dare we expect children who can manage themselves when we present ourselves as flighty and undisciplined. School can still be filled with love and laughter, but think about and certainly pray about making it boring enough for your children to learn to discipline and manage their lives. God bless.