Maybe your homeschool life is cruising right along and on autopilot. Perhaps your kids are cleaning their rooms each morning without you asking all before you have even gotten your first cup of coffee. Then after they have admired their sparkling clean rooms, they have started into their daily math work. Ok seriously that would be amazing, but the reality is there's probably a struggle to complete tasks, stay on track, and be organized.
If your mornings and school time are a struggle, this post might help you get a bit more order and peace to your days. Being able to be organized, self-start projects, and stay focused all stem from the part of our brain that is responsible for executive function. According to WebMd the executive function part of your brain helps you manage time, switch focus, plan and organize, remember details, and pay attention. Phew! What if as homeschooling parents we could strengthen that area of our kids' brains. If so, then not only would our homeschool days go smoother, but you are giving them life skills that will make them successful in whatever they choose to do with their life.
Problem: Not gauging time properly. Do you know someone who is always late? Some people's brains cannot feel and understand time. They don't know what a half hour feels like. When they look at the clock and see they have a certain amount of time to do something, they cannot gauge if that is sufficient time to complete a task. It's stressful not only for the person who seems to be constantly running late but also for the people who they are suppose to work with.
Solution: One activity that you can do with your child that will strengthen this is to use an analog clock. You remember those old school clocks that are hardly ever used nowadays. Let's say you give your child 15 minutes to work on a writing assignment. Take an analog clock and with a dry erase marker, write on and color in 15 minutes. As the child works, they can glance at the clock and notice how much time has passed. Instead of just seeing how much time is left, they are able to see and feel how much time has passed and how much time is left. By doing this it will strengthen their ability to gauge time and make them more responsible to time demands.
Problem: There is a lot of time wasted when looking for books and assignments because the student lacks organizational skills. In my first year of homeschooling I had no organization to mine or my children' books ,and I would pile them all up in a closet that was used for clothes and other miscellaneous items. I am not lying when I say that I spent hours per week looking for a certain text book or certain art supplies that got lost. Time was lost and I was super cranky because that was time that we could've been learning or playing at the park.
Solution: Give your child a crate to keep all of their school books in. Nothing else is allowed to go in this crate other than what they would use for school. Keep that box in a designated area that is easily accessible. The child is responsible for taking books out when it is time to use them and putting them back when they are done. Also, use a hanging folder to provide all their daily assignments and leave an open folder at the bottom for all their finished work. We have a folder for each subject. At the beginning of every week I put all their assignments for the week in the folders with the day of the week written on the top of the worksheet. When it is time for science, I say, "Go get your Science Monday worksheet". They know exactly where it is and they no that when they are done they put it in the completed work folder at the bottom. By taking a little bit of time to plan the week and organizing the folders, it strengthens their idea of organization and trains their brain by realizing everything has a place. By having one spot where they can grab their school supplies, grab their daily assignments, and put their completed assignments in, it should save a lot of time and stress by not looking for the missing math book or the paper you worked on yesterday.
Problem: Kids are constantly relying on you because they cannot remember what they have to complete as far as chores, work assignments, and other responsibilities. You feel stressed out because you feel that you are constantly repeating yourself and that your child is not taking any responsibility.
Solution: Sit down with your kids and have them come up with a list of what should be done in the morning. Their input is critical. It makes them take ownership in becoming more self-sufficient. Once you have had a discussion about what should be completed each morning make a checklist of all the things that you want them to do. Laminate it and put it on the fridge, in their room, or somewhere where there's easy access. After they complete each task, have them take a dry erase marker and check each item off. It will strengthen the area of their brain that is responsible for remembering details and self regulating. I highly recommend that you attach some type of carrot to this morning task routine so it motivates them to get it done.
As far as daily class assignments go, I recommend getting a daily planner. The child is responsible for writing all subjects he is responsible to complete for the day. As he completes each assignment he can check it off. Each morning talk about the schedule of your day and what assignments and school related activity that is happening that day. You can write each assignment on the board and they can copy it in their planner. I know for some this might seem tedious, but the reality is, it takes less than 5 minutes. By doing this daily activity it helps your child fire up his executive functioning muscle which will pay dividends in the future. Your child will have a better sense of ownership of his own learning when they are filled in and know what is expected of them.
Problem: When sitting down to do work, you have to keep reminding your child to focus because he is on another planet.
Solution: As homeschoolers we totally have the upper hand when it comes to the solution here. We can create environments where we can help our children learn how to pay better attention. Since we are not competing with 25 other students in the classroom, we can create environments that will help our students learn. I find that when my son in struggling with focusing, we need to shake things up to bring him back. Use anything that will apply to more of the senses to bring their focus back. If you are teaching a new concept and you can incorporate playdough, do it. If you can practice math facts by bear crawling while giving the answers, do it. You, as a parent are creative, I know you are. Just think how can I bring engage another one of his senses in learning, and I promise, promise, promise you, you will have their attention. Here are some awesome examples of multi sensory math activities. https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/10-multisensory-techniques-for-teaching-math