It’d be silly if I asked you if your home school ever got off track, so I won’t ask. But, since I’ve obviously been out of the loop for two weeks now, I’ll just tell you that being knocked out off schedule never stops happening, with or without the kids at home. Besides refocusing on our goals and remembering why we’re doing what we’re doing, how do we get back on target?
5 Ways to Get Your Homeschool Back on Track
1. Connect habits.
Take a fresh look at your schedule habits, and strengthen your plan by connecting one or more habits together. This kind of thinking connects behavior A with behavior B so they become a whole, not an assembly of parts. Ironworks give us a good visual of how this works:
You can’t separate one part from the whole. Parts become solid things that have security and surety and don’t come apart easily. In schedules and habits, it plays out like this: you brush your teeth then make the bed. Bam and bam. You make the bed and make sure the kids are at the table eating breakfast. You unload the dishwasher and get something out for dinner. There is tremendous strength in habits that are connected with each other, and that puts us well on our way to getting things cranked up when the machinery goes down.
2. Do the best you can with what you’ve got.
I used to tease my husband about not buying me flowers. Whenever he thought “flowers for Cath,” he thought he had to buy a dozen roses, and if that expense wasn’t in the budget, I did without. He’s not like that now (thankfully), but isn’t it funny how we think that if we can’t max out on something, we won’t do anything at all?
When your school schedule goes off the rails, do what you can do and be glad for it. For example, if your school day is crazy one day, just do the skill-based studies, math and writing, because they’re linear and can’t be mixed around. Make up the knowledge studies later because there’s more flexibility with them. Don’t have time for family reading time? Opt for a lit-based movie and have a quick Socratic discussion about it. The thing that is right is the thing that works. (For free prompts for Socratic dialogue, click here).
I had eight language arts books for my daughter when she was in third grade. You read that right. In third grade. We both got off track during that time because I had ridiculous expectations for her and I made her miserable. Simplification got us back on track in record time. If you’d like to teach one skill at a time, check out A Sequence of English Writing Skills.
4. Create structure with options.
Let’s say you have an “A-Day,” a “B-Day,” and a “C-Day.” The A-Days are your ideal days, ie., skill based studies in the morning and knowledge studies in the afternoons. B-Days are days when you have afternoon appointments so you just do the skill-based studies in the morning. C-Days are supplemental study days for field trips, make-up days, or just days where you watch a lit-based movies and pop some popcorn. In other words, get on whatever track that moves you forward.
5. Clear away the clutter.
I’m not kidding. This past week when my life went haywire, the non-verbal message of my office was,
“you don’t want to be in here…”
“you are so behind you’ll never catch up…”
“you’ve totally failed at your goals.”
When those Downer-Debbie tapes started up in my head, I had to take action immediately because they’re dangerous!
I took five minutes and put away the biggest visual offenders in the room: the stack of papers went to my inbox, the easel went back into storage, marker boards went back in the closet, the coffee cup went back into the kitchen, and the extra folding chair went back to the garage.
It worked. My office looked remarkably better in just a few minutes, and because it looked better, I felt better and more in control. For an extra touch I put on some music just to make sure the inner chatter was completely replaced.
Staying on track keeps our plans moving, but getting off course is inevitable. Learning to study the setbacks and use them for good can actually provides strength and surety to our plans.
What helps you get back on track when you go off the rails?