There is so much you can do with the 24 hours given, yet there is not enough time in a day to get everything done. Oh the dilemma! Having a large family and then choosing to spend every waking moment with them, creates a challenging scenario and demands creative homeschool organization. I may not have mastered kicking chaos to the curb, but I have learned a thing or two after seventeen years of homeschooling.
1. Everyone is accounted for.
The first tip is to make sure you know what everyone is doing and when. Knowing what the baby is doing during school hours will make your day much smoother. It may seem silly to schedule the baby, but you need a plan for him most of all.
I schedule in 30 minute slots for each older child to spend with the little one. Another idea is to have a pack-n-play or safe area for the toddler, and change out his activities every 15-30 minutes. If you have a nurser, make sure you schedule in enough time for that as well. The point is to have a plan and be flexible. Babies don’t like always adhere to our schedules.
Best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.Robert Burns
2. You don’t have to do everything everyday.
Don’t fall for the trap of thinking that every subject has to be covered every day. Your core subjects will need more coverage, but your science, history and electives don’t have to be covered every school day.
This will help you fit it all in and prevent burn out. Create a science day, a history day and an art day. Make it fit your family’s needs. There will be seasons in your homeschool that only the core subjects need to be taught. Don’t be afraid to take a breather year and focus in on math and language arts.
3. Schedule in rest.
If your schedule is so full that you can’t take a break, read a book, play a game or hang out with your spouse, then you are headed towards burn out. Don’t underestimate the importance of rest. God set the example and rested on the seventh day of creation. Our bodies are created to need rest, so don’t forget it!
Homeschool organization for a large family requires that I schedule in my restful times instead of letting it happen organically. Doing this helps me prioritize those times because it is so easy to just stay busy. Sunday afternoon is our time to do Bible study with our teens and hang out with friends. I plan in time with my husband each evening. We have a movie night every Saturday night. Get creative.
4. Involve your husband & older children.
Most husbands don’t have a lot of interest of what happens during the day, but they have great insight we miss out on sometimes. Build your calendar, then take it to your husband and get his opinion. They are much better about catching our over scheduling.
By allowing the older children some say over the schedule, they can take ownership. Listen to how they want to spend their time, what electives they may be interested in, and what they found was overwhelming. My eleven year old expressed interest in spending time with her four year old brother, teaching him his ABC’s and 123’s. I’m glad I listened, because what a blessing that is to our homeschool.
5. No is not a bad word.
A huge part of your homeschool organization is learning to say no. As nurturers we naturally want to serve and help others, causing us to never want to say no. There are so many wonderful ways to spend our time and talents. We have to constantly remind ourselves of our first priority. God has given us a husband to stand beside and children to raise to His glory. So every decision needs to be taken with our ultimate goal in mind.
I am notorious for over scheduling myself and my children. My husband has to constantly pull the reigns back. He is my litmus paper. I also try to pay attention to the kid’s reactions. When everyone is feeling stressed, I know I’ve gone too far and need to pull back.
6. Use Google Calendar and Docs
I absolutely love using Google products for home management and homeschool organization. The ability to connect everyone’s calendars and share docs is invaluable for a large family. I share about using Google docs for menu planning and homeschool planning and Google sheets for budgeting in previous posts.
7. Color Code
Using Google Docs and Calendar allows you to color code your schedule. You can choose to denote each person a color on your calendar, helping you to visually see how much one person is doing. You can color code your printed planner, each color representing a subject or activity. This may only appeal to Type A personalities, but I suggest trying it if you have multiple people you are organizing.
8. Plan more than just school.
Occasionally we get hyper focused on lesson planning, but don’t forget to schedule in the chores, outside activities, library, fun time, rest, projects, etc. This over view helps me to avoid over scheduling. I can see where I am spending my time and know whether I have time to add something new or not.
9. Be flexible.
Even though I keep a well written schedule, I do understand that life isn’t rigid. Be prepared for days not going according to plan, for sick days, for unexpected company, for a day of rest. Our goal is to complete full school days the majority of the time, but allowing wiggle room and grace will only improve relationships and prevent burn out.
10. If possible, get away to plan.
My favorite tip is plan to get away. Sometimes the boys go camping and the girls stay home. Or the girls go out and the boys stay home. Sometimes I get a weekend away with my husband, sometimes it’s just me that gets away. Change of scenery is good for the soul.
Please don’t feel like this isn’t an option for you in your season of life. You may not be able to escape for a whole weekend, but you may be able to get away for an hour. Plan a date night at home after the kids are in bed. Take the kids out on a picnic instead of a boring lunch at home. Use your imagination.
For more inspiration to rock homeschool organization check out these posts:
- Blending Housework and Homeschooling
- The Best Homeschool Life Planner
- Age Appropriate Chore List
- The Year We Almost Quit