Now let’s talk about which subjects get the first real attention each day. I hear a lot of homeschoolers talk about doing math first. If that works for you, then definitely don’t change it.
If, however, you happen to be like most of the ladies I talk to… then starting with math means you and your kids go head-to-head right off the bat. The day may often start with tears, or eye-rolling, or some form of resistance. You might possibly hate the first hour of your school day.
There’s an easy fix for this: don’t start with your harder subjects. Start with something delightful instead.
Start Your Day with Something Delightful
This doesn’t need to be complicated or overwhelming. Read aloud a poem or a children’s novel (here’s a whole list of great read-alouds for you) during breakfast.
Do your kids love mapwork? Start with that. Do they love Mad Libs? That takes less than 5 minutes.
Pam Barnhill says it best: “When you start your day with something that delights you and your children, they are more eager to start their school day, and so are you.”
Make the first thing you do with your kids each day be something you’re looking forward to– that’s a better way to get the day started on the right foot. If it happens to math, then lucky you. (And would you please come teach at my house?) If it’s not math, then join the club– and then pick something delightful instead.
Putting Little Ones at the Front End
The biggest challenge I deal with in my homeschool is meeting the needs of three toddlers while teaching my three big kids. I find that little ones tend to be just a touch less starved for mama time when they have been lavished with a bit of love at the very beginning of the day, so I try to load some undivided attention on the front end of the morning.
After breakfast, the big three tend to their morning jobs (getting ready for the day and tending to their morning chores).
While they are buzzing around doing that, I get down on the floor with the littles, sing songs, read picture books, and give them some undivided attention. It doesn’t have to be long or tiring- just a little topping off of the love tank before our day really gets going.
In our house, we start our day with something delightful (usually a read-aloud). I give the littles kids some love to hold them over. Then I start rotating through my big kids for their 1-on-1 time.
It can be a real challenge for a homeschooling mama to find enough time in the day to meet with each of her kids one one one. The way that works for me is that I rotate my bigs– one is working with me, one is playing with the twins, and the other is playing with the preschooler.
We set a timer for 30-45 minutes, and then we all rotate.
Yes, that means my kids only get 1-on-1 with me for 30-45 minutes each day. That’s about 30-45 minutes longer than they’d get of one-on-one in a classroom, though ;)– and it’s enough. I’m always amazed at what we can accomplish in such small chunks of time over the duration of a school year.
I choose what to work on with each of my kids based on what they need most. If a child needs attention to grammar and writing, that’s what we do. If she’s a high schooler who is grappling with understanding the world and current events, then that’s what we do. If it’s math– this is where that goes. I choose one or two things to work on with each of my kids for a 6-week chunk of time, and that’s what we focus on every day during our 1-on-1.
When we hit the next 6-week time chunk, I decide either to keep on keepin’ on, or to switch it up to something else that needs some close attention.
I’ve recorded about this time of day– if you have more questions about how I choose what to teach during this time of day, check out the video here.
Once I’ve gotten into the right mindset by thinking about planning a school year from rest, and taking a birds’ eye view, then I consider the first things. What would delight us? What do each of my kids need most during our 1-on-1?
Once I have those things nailed down, then I’m well on my way to getting an effective plan for our homeschool year. The next piece of the puzzle is deciding what we should all be learning together. We call our group learning Morning Time or Symposium. Let’s tackle that next.