Do you ever feel like time is a 4-letter word? I think it’s safe to say that most homeschool moms have a hate-hate relationship with time; there’s simply never enough of it! Our plates are full with household cleaning duties, lessons to teach, kids to feed, and so much more. I find that most moms are frustrated by this elusive commodity of time that they simply cannot master. That’s why we homeschoolers need some time hacks!
Every time someone asks me that question I chuckle and retort with, “You’re asking the wrong question.” You see, NO ONE GETS IT ALL DONE. That’s an impossible task. BUT- that doesn’t mean we should just throw in the towel and plop on the couch with a box of bonbons. People have figured out how to master time (instead of letting time master them), I promise.
Oh, and you can be one of those people.
It all starts by asking the right question. Instead of starting your day with “How can I get all of this done?” begin each day with a new question: “What important tasks has God given me today and what things should I say no to?”
We can’t possibly fit everything in, but we can do the things God has given us to do. Here’s the clincher: we will only know what God has for us each day IF we spend time with Him.
Oh friend, I know you already know that. I don’t mention it here to accentuate your guilt. I mention it because we all need the reminder that the only way we will know what God wants us to do in life is to talk to Him. And because I can’t possibly teach you any time hacks that will work if you aren’t walking in God’s will for your day.
Ok, so you’ve got a long list of things and you are certain God has called you to complete each one of those things. (I mean, after all, the kids must eat 3 times today, everyone needs to be educated, and you’ve got to keep the house at least clean enough to keep child protective services from being alarmed. Haha.)
So, what else can you do to make the best use of the 24 hours a day you have?
I’ve created a video masterclass for you on this very subject. I’m sharing 8 of my best time hacks for homeschoolers. These tips are practical, sustainable, and I promise they work.
It’s true you can’t add any hours to your day, but you can work smarter!
Time Hacks for Homeschoolers Masterclass Notes:
Hack #1 —> Keep learning simple
I hate to go against the grain here, but taking Latin in pre-k doesn’t make children scholars. In fact, pressuring our kids with too much too soon usually has the opposite effect: mom burnout, kid frustration, and all kinds of family friction as the pressure rises.
I humbly suggest only committing to the necessary subjects. Stay simple until late elementary school: reading and math. Everything else should be a supplement if there is time/energy AND your child is interested. Which reminds me, science, history, (and most things) are better learned naturally anyway.
Hack #2—> Teach kids together
This hack is simple: If you can teach your kids together, do it. Of course you can’t do this for every subject, but you can certainly get creative with history and science. In our family, all kids under 8th grade learn the same history/science at the same time.
Obviously, they will learn different things, but mom only teaches once. This is ideal through living books and field trips, but there are plenty of homeschool companies creating curriculum that lends itself well to teaching multi-ages. Here are a few examples:
Hack #3 —> Teach subjects together
To piggyback on hack #2, don’t just combine kids, combine subjects whenever possible as well. Who says you need a textbook for 9 subjects each year? That’s just nonsense. One book or curriculum can easily cover multiple subjects. This is especially true for language arts.
For high school, we use Notgrass History, giving my students 3 credits: English, History, and Bible. For my 2nd-8th graders, we use the Reading Journal to combine science, history, and pretty much anything you want to learn about, with our study of language arts. Oh and I can’t forget Still Singing. It’s a hymn study covering the story behind each hymn, but it’s also language arts, geography, history, music theory, copywork, and Bible all wrapped into one.
Hack #4 —> Plan ONLY once a year
This hack will literally save your life. STOP erasing boxes and moving assignments you intended to do and never did. Instead, make a good solid plan at the beginning of the year and then do the next logical thing each day. In the video, I show you my step-by-step process for making this happen.
One tool we use and love is the Student Record and Planner. It’s a lifesaver when it comes to planning and has completely replaced my lesson plan book. Read more about why I don’t use a lesson plan book here.
Hack #5 —> Change the way you schedule
One strategy for using your time better is to think differently about the problem. For example, most homeschoolers are still creating a minute-by-minute schedule for their day. The problem with this strategy is it simply doesn’t work. When even the slightest thing gets off course (and trust me- it happens nearly every day), we feel defeated and give up.
It took a lot of unexpected doctor visits and other interruptions for me to understand that PLANNING for the unexpected gives us the most success. We do this through a simple system called time chunks. Basically, we have chunks of the day that have the same routine no matter what time we get to them. Everyone knows what to do, and it can be moved around if needed. (Ahem, instead of thrown out in frustration.)
In the video, I discuss each one of these and how to create them. Here is a quick look at what each of our chunks looks like.
Hack #6 —> Let someone else do the teaching
Of course, one of the easiest ways to save time is to let someone else do the teaching for you. Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean you have to throw this idea out the window. There are many ways to let other people teach your kids while maintaining the atmosphere and academic control over their education. For example, my oldest girls have been teaching the younger kids for years. We also use a co-op for some subjects.
We use online resources as much as possible. My kids LOVE Teaching Textbooks for math. (It does all the teaching and grading for you.) We also LOVE online classes like Experience Astronomy or Apologia lab classes.
Hack #7 —> Train them for independent learning
I could write an entire post on this topic. (Oh wait, I did! Click here to read more about 5 ways you can teach your kids to learn independently starting today!)
The bottom line: if you try to be and do everything, you’ll be no good to anyone. Your job is to facilitate, train, and delegate. That’s what managers do. (And you are the manager in your home!) Besides, isn’t the point of educating our kids to make them self-sustaining adults? Of course it is. Start VERY early. It will save you time and one day your adult children will thank you for equipping them.
Hack #8 —> Teach wherever you have to be
Last but not least, sometimes we just have to multi-task. When my son had weekly chemo treatments for a year and a half, we had to get creative about how we did school. My best tip for this is to have a backpack for each child ready with supplies for learning on the go.
When you have a doctor’s appointment, put in the needed books and you’re off. This works especially well for families dealing with critical illnesses, caring for elderly parents, and those in transition like moving or renovating a house.
A few final thoughts…
It’s easy to beat ourselves up for not using time wisely or simply not getting to everything we think we should be getting to. Let me assure you, no one is getting to everything. It’s impossible. I pray these 8 hacks have given you at least a few little things you can tweak to make your homeschool more manageable, but please remember to give yourself grace as you walk this journey!