Back to School for Homeschoolers—Tip VIII: Be Efficient in Your School Day

With six children in school different years (and a baby or toddler too!) , I have been on a personal quest for efficiency in my school day! I have learned so much about time management and efficiency through homeschooling. I will give four primary tips for efficiency in this article, but we have many, many ideas in our audio series, “Helps for Homeschooling Moms: Prioritizing, Organizing, and Scheduling Your Life, School, and Home.”

First of all, I used multi-level learning whenever possible. This included doing unit studies for content areas (history, science, health, etc.) using a bus stop approach to teaching. In the bus stop approach, I started out with all children present for our studies and began with the easiest materials I used. Then as the materials increased in difficulty or decreased in interest for the little ones, I would “drop them off at the bus stops” (i.e. release them to go play, have room time, do chores, etc.) and continue on with higher level material. As the session progressed, little ones would “get off the bus” and go to other things until at the end of the session, I was covering more challenging material that might only interest or pertain to older ones. (We always allowed littles to stay and learn with us while playing Legoes, etc., for the “trickle down effect,” if the child desired!)

Secondly, I grouped students together whenever possible. Our daughters all took high school biology, sewing, and Spanish together—even though they were in grades six, nine, and ten. It was efficient, and they enjoyed studying together.

Third, I always used grading time wisely. I would sit down with the child’s English or math and grade with him or her beside me. As I found an error, we could go over it right there. It was teaching time at its best—teaching directly from the student’s mistakes.

Lastly, we made our students as responsible for their education as they could possibly be at each age. We began early on using daily chore charts and independent school lists. The latter were lists of tasks that each child needed to do every day by himself in school. Thus, any silent reading, handwriting pages, cd roms, and other activities that the child could do without Mom were listed in the order that the student was to do it—and he could just go down the list and do it every day without needing any input or help. This gave me the chance to work with other kids—and I knew that every body was busy when they were not meeting with me.

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