Cammie Arn

Looking back I realize that finishing a homeschool day well has changed for me over the years. When my children were little, I felt accomplished if that day I had a plan for dinner, everyone got dressed, and we read at least one book. Now after 20 years of homeschooling, I find my day finishes well when dinner is planned before breakfast, the children have completed their day’s assignments without complaining, I’ve spent my quiet time with God, and my family did something fun together. Below are some of the things I have learned these past 20 years in striving towards my goal to finish each homeschool day well.

 

Simple Planning to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

Planning is essential to finish each homeschool day well, but it doesn’t need to be elaborate or complicated. For instance, I have a small bulletin board in our school area where I post the syllabi’ for the school year. This way everyone knows what needs to be done each week. I also post my menu and chore assignments where everyone can see them. Once these items are posted, “it’s the law”. We also make it a point to focus on school first. After breakfast until lunch school work is the priority . I’ve also trained my children that school and house responsibilities are to be completed before any free time activities are permitted.

 

Bigger Picture Focus to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

Staying on track and being mindful of bigger homeschooling goals can also be simplified. When my oldest began high school I created a 4-year high school scope and sequence. Since then, each summer and Christmas break I re-evaluate this plan to ensure my children are making adequate progress or if  extra time or help is needed to reach a goal. Another planning element added to our at-home study lesson plans are yearly classes our children take at a local co-op. Each summer I incorporate each co-op classes syllabi into my children’s yearly goals. 

 

One additional tip I have learned for tracking textbook lessons is to copy the table of contents from the book and assign specific due dates for each chapter. Then I laminate the table of contents page and use it as a bookmark for the textbook. This way my children know throughout the year what date a specific reading assignment is due.

 

In the end, material things don’t matter but people do. Making sure I spend time with the people I love is the best way to finish each homeschool day well.”

 

Crushing Difficult Tasks to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

In order to not procrastinate on difficult tasks, I try to do the most unpleasant things in my day first thing in the morning. This way these items are done and I have the freedom of mind to move on to whatever else the day holds. But, on the days when I just can’t get to these more difficult tasks, I assign them to someone else.  Just kidding. They wait until the next day or time they can be dealt with, unless I can find someone who is able or willing to help.

 

Looking Back and Ahead to Finish Each Homeschool Day Well

When I look back I realize what matters most are the people in my life and the relationships we share. The question I ask myself at the end of each day is, “Have I met every need I could as best I could today?”  Looking back to what matters most today and into the future to what will matter most in the years to come provides the best framework for where it matters most to spend time each and every day. In the end, material things don’t matter but people do. Making sure I spend time with the people I love is the best way to finish each homeschool day well.

 

 

 

 

 


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Dawn Spence

I am very much a type-A person. I love to find ways to organize my house, my life, and my homeschool. I also find my children do better with organization, and it sets the tone and expectations within our home and homeschool.

Children need structure even though their natural inclination is to resist it. This is especially true for children with special needs. Knowing the order of the day and a checklist of what needs to be done provides comfort and stability.

I have found that finding little things to help me organize my day amidst therapies, teaching, and everyday life can be rewarding and stress relieving. Here are some simple things that have helped organize our homeschool days that I hope will help you organize your homeschool.

 

Provide Daily Checklists

I provide my children with weekly checklists of their assignments. I love that my children wake up and can tackle their assignments without asking me what they need to do. They can choose to work and complete all their math in one day if they choose. It provides self-discipline and independence.

The checklist is especially helpful when my daughter has therapy because then my other children can look at their lists and work on one or more of their independent lessons. They know if they need help they can circle the lesson and work with me later when I become available.

 

Calendar With Visuals

Another helpful tool is a wall calendar with pictures. This tool is valuable to everyone in the family. It helps us see when things will be taking place during the week like field trips, doctor visits, and special holidays. My children, like most, work better when they know what to expect and can count down to an exciting activity. Using pictures ensures even the non-readers in your home can take advantage of these calendar reminders.

The size of the calendar is up to you. You can use personal-sized calendars or a wall-sized calendar. One additional item we add to our calendar is special dates about the places and people we have been studying in our lessons.

 

Organized Work Areas

Organized work areas are a simple organization tool, but can save a great deal of time. My children have everything they need at our group work station and their student desks. Not having to stop to provide utensils and paper helps everyone stay on task. I take a little extra time on Sunday night preparing these areas for the week. Trust me, a little prep ahead of time can save you lots of time throughout the week.

 

Yes, homeschooling can be hard, but implementing ways to organize your homeschool doesn’t have to be.

 

 

 

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

Over the years of working through my parenting anger issues, the biggest lesson I have learned about myself is my natural tendency to want to always be in control. I have talked about letting go of control in many areas of parenting throughout this series; control of my children’s character development, as well as my parenting approach in respect to my use of authority, of conveying acceptance, in providing forgiveness, and with my desire to  restore honor. The final, and most deceptively hidden, area I needed to surrender my need to over control as a parent was time management.

 

Finding Balance in Time Management
Controlling every single moment of every single day in my children’s lives was not healthy. Plus, if my goal was to help my children learn the skill of managing their time effectively they needed opportunities to practice. Opportunities I was denying them by always micro-managing their schedules.

 

My blindness to my overly controlling approach towards my children’s schedules was aided by the fact that all my children deal with varying degrees of executive functioning deficits. These deficits limit their natural abilities to quickly and efficiently schedule, plan, and organize themselves. So, as a mother who is naturally gifted in this area, it was easy to just step in and take over these responsibilities for my children instead of letting go and teaching them to take ownership for their own use of time.

 

For any parent of a struggling child, the tendency to overcompensate and take control is a constant battle. On one hand you desire for your child to learn and grow, but on the other hand the pain this struggle causes your child and often your own self (extra messes to clean up, extended length in completing tasks, etc.) is much more easily alleviated by stepping in. How then is a parent to win over this desire to control while still keeping a child on track? The answer is balance.

 

A balanced time-management approach involves evaluating three things: your child, your approach, your tools. Looking at these three areas and then determining a balanced plan on how to appropriately give your child the help needed to get through a regular schedule while developing time management skills of their own along the way.

 

Your Child
Understanding the true capability if your child to manage time is critical when figuring out how much this child can manage realistically without your help. Have you ever done a critical analysis of how well your child can break down a larger task into a checklist of smaller parts to complete the whole project?

 

One easy way to figure out your child’s executive functioning capability is to test it by asking your child to do a task which requires multiple steps. I would suggest doing this test with different types of tasks because children often have a greater ability to focus and plan when they are interested in the task (like building a Lego set) than they do when they are disinterested in a task, like cleaning the bathroom.

 

If you have an older student, you can also use this free time management quiz. The quiz has 15 simple questions your student can answer, and then the website provides ideas for goal setting based on the deficiencies revealed by the quiz.

 

Your Approach
Now that you know what skills your child has for managing his own time, and which ones you need to help teach for greater mastery, you should develop a strategy for teaching time management skills. Here are some website with great resources on helping kids with mild time management issues, moderate executive functioning issues, or even more severely limited scheduling abilities.

 

Mild Time Management Strategies
11 Easy Tips for Teaching Your Kids Time Management
The Age-By-Age Guide to Teaching Kids Time Management
6 Ways to Teach Time Management Skills

Moderate Executive Functioning Strategies

Graphic Organizers from the Learning Disabilities Foundation of America
Helping Kids Who Struggle with Executive Functioning
10 Frightfully Useful Tips from Executive Functioning Coaches
5 Must-Have Apps for Improving Executive Functioning in Children

 

Strategies for Students with Severely Limited Scheduling Abilities
Tactile Schedules for Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities
8 Types of Visual Student Schedules
Object Schedule Systems
Free Printable Visual Schedules


Your Tools

Based on how much help your child needs and what approach you feel would best help in teaching better time management, you can now start putting together your tools. The various articles above are filled with everything from digital tools to very hands-on physical tools.

 

For our family, we did a lot of visual schedules on a huge blackboard in our kitchen when our children were very young. We supplemented that schedule with daily conversations about upcoming activities and plans to ensure our children remembered what lay ahead and weren’t surprised when we had something planned that didn’t fit into our normal routine. But, as our children grew older those schedules moved to student planners, apps, and shared documents along with the daily conversations.

 

Knowledge has great power. In my experience with letting go of controlling my children, knowing more about the type of help they needed and when I was becoming overly controlling greatly helped with restoring a proper parent-child relationship in our home.

 

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By Kimberly A Vogel

 

I opened the door and stepped into a winter wonderland. White, blue, and silver Christmas decorations adorned the house. After days of rushing around and overwhelming holiday stress, I finally felt like I could breathe. 

 

Something was comforting in the white. It brought a sense of calm and peace. The term white space repeated in my thoughts and synced to the white lights blinking.

 

I need white space in my life, especially around the holidays.

 

White space, a term writers use, refers to the white space on a page so the reader isn’t bombarded by words. I need a place where I’m not bombarded. I need extra room to move and breathe. Instead of cramming more activities into an already filled schedule, I should plan less and leave room for more spur of the moment activities.

 

My thoughts started to create priorities on how I just might be able incorporate white space into my life to lower my holiday stress. 

 

My holiday did not have peace and my short temper overshadowed my love.

 

These were the reminders I needed to tell myself. 

 

Keep your calendar handy so you don’t overbook

Do you have a planner? Do you use your phone or paper? What you use isn’t important, using it is what’s important. Overbooking isn’t just having two activities at the same time, it’s having too many activities in a day or week.

 

Say yes sparingly

In Volunteering: Pray about every opportunity. Only commit to what you have time to do well. It’s better to focus on one or two opportunities, than saying yes to five things and only following through with a few.

With Activities: There’s an abundance of fun family events only available during the holidays and you should never feel obligated to go to them all. It seems like every group has a party this time of year. Make sure whatever you do commit to fits into your plan and isn’t too taxing. Also, consider your family’s special circumstances: If you have small kids, parties during nap time make the day difficult. If you have special needs kids, there are so many things to think through… sensory issues, behavior issues due to excess sugar, dietary restrictions, over-stimulation.

 

Don’t operate out of guilt, expectations, or ideals

Expectations run high during the holidays. As moms, we often set the pace for our family. As women, guilt plays a role into our decision making. I’ll never forget the year I ran myself ragged to make sure an event happened, all to find out I was the only one who wanted it. In this instance, the event’s importance had been heightened by a childhood memory, an ideal I eventually had to let go for the sake of my family’s sanity.

 

Back in the lovely decorated home, I walked into another room where a huge Fontini display decorated the corner. A village scene centered around the nativity. Then it hit me, THAT is the who of my white space. Jesus came to bring…peace, love and salvation. If He’s not at the center of my white space then I am just creating voids that attract fillers.

 

My holiday did not have peace and my short temper overshadowed my love. White space is only beneficial if it is filled with Jesus because He perfectly fills the void. Jesus space, as the center of our white space, brings me back to what this holiday season is all about.

 

What can you do to create white space and Jesus space into your life?

 

 

 

 


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By Shanel Tarrant-Simone

Planning​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future​ ​often​ ​looks​ ​different​ ​and​ ​should​ ​start​ ​early​ ​for​ ​our​ ​children​ ​with learning​ ​differences​ ​and​ ​special​ ​needs.​ Below I’ll​ ​be​ ​covering​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​topics​ ​that​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​you​ ​will​ ​find helpful​ ​when​ ​planning​ ​​your​ ​child’s​ ​future.  We will address​ ​foundational​ ​skills​ ​and how​ ​to​ ​access​ ​resources​ ​at​ ​an​ ​early​ ​age.​

​​Through​ ​​almost​ ​ten​ ​years​ ​of​ ​working​ ​in​ ​public school​ ​special​ ​education,​ ​and ​being​ ​a​ ​mom​ ​of​ seventeen-year-old ​twin​ ​boys​ ​with​ ​Level​ ​3 Autism,​ ​I’ve​ ​learned​ ​that​ Activities ​of​ ​Daily Living (ADL)​ ​are​ ​vital ​in​ ​accessing​ ​the​ ​community​ ​when​ ​our​ ​children​ ​are​ ​no longer​ ​school​ ​age.​ ​ADLs​ ​are​ ​the​ ​skills​ ​our​ ​children​ ​will​ ​need​ ​to​ ​function​ ​as independently​ ​as​ ​possible,​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​what​ ​the​ ​future​ ​holds​ ​for​ ​them.

 

When​ ​should​ ​I​ ​start​ ​planning​ ​for​ ​my​ ​child’s​ ​future?​
It’s​ ​never​ ​too​ ​early​ ​to​ ​plan​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future.​ ​​ ​Our​ ​homeschool​ ​curriculum​ ​and​ ​”lifestyle​ ​of learning”​ ​should​ ​support​ ​our​ ​child’s​ ​post​ ​school​ ​goals​ ​soon​ ​after​ ​diagnosis​ ​or​ ​as​ ​early as​ ​elementary​ ​age.​ ​And,​ ​because​ ​some​ ​of​ ​our​ ​children​ ​need​ ​longer​ ​to​ ​acquire​ ​even some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​basic​ ​skills,​ ​teaching​ ​towards​ ​independence​ ​as​ ​much​ ​as​ ​possible​ ​starts​ ​at the​ ​preschool​ ​level.​ ​​ ​This​ ​ ​includes​ ​the​ ​most​ ​important​ ​and​ ​often​ ​overlooked​ ​skill​ ​of Functional​ ​Communication​.​

​The​ ​best​ ​advice​ ​I’ve​ ​ever​ ​heard​ ​from​ ​someone​ ​working​ ​with adults​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Spectrum​ ​is​ ​that​ ​“functional​ ​language​ ​and​ ​safely​ ​being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​use​ ​a​ ​public restroom​ ​are​ ​the​ ​two​ ​most​ ​important​ ​skills​ ​we​ ​can​ ​give​ ​a​ ​special​ ​needs​ ​child/adult. Academics​ ​are​ ​important​ ​but​ are less so ​if​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​these​ ​two​ ​basics mastered.”  

 

What questions should I be asking in​ ​planning​ ​for​ ​my​ ​child’s​ ​future?​

  • Education​: Will​ ​my​ ​child’s​ ​future​ ​include​ ​attending​ ​college,​ ​Trade/Vocational​ ​School​ ​or spending​ ​several​ ​days​ ​each​ ​week​ ​in​ ​the​ ​community​ ​at​ ​a​ ​DayHab​ ​facility?
  • Legal​​: Do​ ​I​ ​have​ ​all​ ​the​ ​necessary​ ​documents​ ​in​ ​place​ ​such​ ​as​ ​a​ ​will​ ​and​ ​Special Needs​ ​Trust?​ ​Will​ ​my​ ​child​ ​need​ ​full​ ​Guardianship​ ​or​ ​will​ ​Supported​ ​Decision​ ​Making​ ​be enough?
  • Living​ ​Arrangement​​:  Will​ ​they​ ​live​ ​independently?​ ​If​ ​so,​ ​where?​ ​Is​ ​Supported (semi-independent)​ ​Living,​ ​Group​ ​Home​ ​or​ ​Host​ ​Home​ ​Companion​ ​(Foster​ ​Care)​ ​the best​ ​option?​ ​Or​ ​will​ ​they​ ​remain​ ​at​ ​home​ ​with​ ​family?​ ​What​ ​supports​ ​will​ ​they​ ​need​ ​to access​ ​the​ ​community?
  • Job/Financial​​: ​Will​ ​my​ ​child​ ​have​ ​a​ ​job?​ ​Volunteer?​ ​Need​ ​Employment​ ​Assistance​ ​or Supported​ ​Employment?
  • Local​ ​&​ ​State​ ​Services​​:  Who​ ​is​ ​my​ ​Local​ ​Authority?​ ​What​ ​services​ ​are​ ​available​ ​to​ ​my child​ ​as​ ​a​ ​minor​ ​and​ ​what​ ​services​ ​will​ ​be​ ​available​ ​to​ ​support​ ​them​ ​as​ ​an​ ​adult?​ ​Is there​ ​a​ ​waiver​ ​list​ ​that​ ​would​ ​help​ ​support​ ​their​ ​community-based,​ ​behavioral,​ ​medical and​ ​financial​ ​needs?​ ​Should​ ​I​ ​apply​ ​for​ ​SSI​ ​and​ ​Medicaid?     

 

These​ ​are​ ​just​ ​a​ ​few​ ​of​ ​the​ ​many​ ​decisions​ ​that​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​made​ ​for​ ​our​ ​children.​ ​Some at​ ​an​ ​early​ ​age, ​others​ ​once​ ​they​ ​reach​ ​high​ ​school​ ​age.​ ​I​ ​am​ ​currently​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of making​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​more​ ​time​-​sensitive​ ​and​ ​critical​ ​adult​ ​transition​ ​decisions​ ​for​ ​my boys.​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​my​ ​experiences​ ​over​ ​the​ ​last​ ​twelve ​years​ ​will ​be​ ​helpful​ ​to​ ​you​ ​and​ ​your family​ ​when​ ​making​ ​some​ ​of​ ​these​ ​​difficult​ ​but​ ​necessary​ ​decisions.

 

 

 

 

 


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By Kimberly Vogel

Planning a new homeschool year energizes some and sparks fear in other homeschool moms. Personally, I enjoy planning, but scheduling a year for a struggling learner reminds me of never-ending tasks such as laundry or putting away toys while a toddler dumps them out behind you… every time you get stuck on a concept, or have a medical set-back, you have to adjust your plan and schedule.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Ben Franklin)

I’m not saying you’ll fail at homeschooling without a schedule, but tackling a homeschool year without an idea of what needs to be accomplished and when does create challenges.

 

8 Tips for Planning a Homeschool Year for a Struggling Learner:

  1. List the main goals in each subject for the year. Setting goals keeps your eyes on the purpose of your homeschool. Doing this in each subject allows customization based on your student’s needs.  Remember to keep your goals focused and doable. Some goals can be for mid-year with a higher expectation set for the end of the year. Goals can state how much of the curriculum you want to accomplish or an end date for completing it.  If you haven’t created an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) before, it can help with setting goals and specifying what accommodations your struggling learner needs. Check out our IEP Information page for details on how to write an IEP.
  2. Decide which lessons / topics are most important.   Some can be skipped, shortened, or combined. Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this lesson and how can we do it in a way my child will learn, be challenged, and successful?” Not all of the curriculum needs to be done, nor all of the assignments.  
  3. Plan with pencil and the ability to move things around. Schedule a rough draft or overview of what lessons need to be done by Christmas and May. If you want to write out each day’s plans in advance, keeping it on the computer in a spreadsheet provides an easy way to move things around. I’ve even planned using sticky notes.
  4. Utilize a checklist of daily subjects. Give your student a checklist of what subjects or books  need to be done each day. It can be laminated to be used weekly or daily.  This is my favorite tip for planning math. Some concepts can be combined (shapes or estimation), while some lessons might take days to work on (long division). This also helps your child feel accomplishment as they complete the tasks..
  5. Schedule in shorter chunks. Don’t plan what lessons you will do each day for the whole year;  rather plan a few weeks at a time. Rely on your goals or the overview for year-long planning.
  6. Give yourself margin. I leave an extra week unplanned each semester to give margin. If we don’t need the extra days for the important lessons we are behind in, we use that time for fun units or projects. Some years we do schoolwork on four days with Fridays for fun. This can also be used for a catch-up day.
  7. Plan backwards. Instead of writing what you think you will do before you do it, keep a file of what you do accomplished each day.This is helpful for the times you feel like you aren’t meeting goals. When we start our day stressed about what we are “supposed” to do, we forget to celebrate what we have done.
  8. Pray. This should be done first, in the middle, and last!  God knows your child and what is needed. He also knows what your year looks like, even before events happen! Through the good days, and the tough ones this year, God is not surprised. He is there every step ready to lead you.

 

Arm yourself with chocolate, pencils, calendars, lessons, and sticky notes and start planning your new homeschool year!

 

 

 

 

 


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