Have you ever had a day where you seem to be busy all day but when you feel like you didn’t really accomplish anything? I’ve had too many of those days to count. Days where I got sucked into some menial task only to have the thing I was supposed to be working on fall by the wayside.
I’ve had complete free days on my calendar where I’ve had nothing scheduled and thought that I was going to get so much accomplished but really only ended up with a clean house. Now I’m not saying that cleaning your house isn’t an important task but sometimes when I have hard things to do, I’d much rather turn my brain off, put some music on, and clean.
Why is it that we put hard tasks off until the very last minute? If we can learn and then teach our kids how to utilize their time well, we can make the most out of our homeschooling days. Not only getting our work done in a fraction of the time but then using the rest of the time to explore and really do whatever it is that we want to do.
Let’s talk about taking the time that we have when it comes to instructional and learning time so that we can learn how to use that time efficiently.
Have you ever heard of the Pareto principle? It’s a rule that suggests that 80% of our outcomes come from 20% of our input. Let’s first see if we can apply this 80-20 rule to your homeschool teaching. What is it that you are absolutely passionate about? For me, I love history and writing. As my kids get older and content gets more in-depth I am willing to put the majority of teaching efforts into these two subjects and then outsource the rest. I’m still scouring to find the best curriculum and classes for other interests including chemistry, photography, etc. I’m just not doing 100% of the teaching and lesson prep. I’m taking my interest and passion and putting it into these two subject because I know I’ll get the most bang for my buck. Instead of taking that same energy and trying to create all the lessons and provide material for content all across each subject, I can focus that energy on two and create strong engaging projects and lessons. That’s the 80/20 rule in effect.
Now let’s have a look at the 80/20 rule in regard to our time during each homeschool day. Let's have a look at the traditional classroom. If a class is an hour, the kids might have to wait for the teacher the first 10 minutes to take role and handle housekeeping business for the class. Then perhaps the kid would pay attention to only the first 5 minutes of a 20 minute lecture then maybe only be focused on the first 10 minutes of 30 minute group work time. If we look at the time that was actually used during that class period we see that 15 minutes of learning and work were only completed and 45 minutes of class were left to who knows what. Not quite exact math but 20% of the effort for 80% of the result.
If we know that 20% of our effort usually ends up with 80% of the results, how do we utilize that 20% of our kids learning time and brain capacity to make their learning time worth it?
First thing is we want to get in tune with our bodies and utilize the time of day when our kids are most alert. Second thing we can do is keep our teaching time short. Some people may have different idea of what short is. Julie Bogart of Bravewriter suggest the kid’s age plus one minute is how much we should expect a kid to focus. In the book limitless, Jim Kwik discusses the Pomodoro technique which’s suggest reading or studying for 25 minutes at a time then taking a short break to snack,stretch, or breathe. “Research suggest that our natural ability to concentrate wanes between 10 and 40 minutes." That suggestion is for adults so you can adjust for the time frame of your kids. When we take short bursts study sessions with lots of breaks in between, we can utilize the power of our kids' brains. If we drag out lessons or try to have hour long study sessions, ours and our kids’ attention start to wane and our tired brains need more time to process information. So do yourself a favor and so short study sessions with lots of breaks in between.