Kendra Adachi has an enjoyable podcast called Lazy Genius. On the show, she applies principles from her book, The Lazy Genius Way, to all sorts of different decisions, scenarios, and topics. You can learn more at her website: https://www.thelazygeniuscollective.com/. Although she was homeschooled as a kid, she isn’t homeschooling her children right now, so she rarely applies these principles to home education. But I’ve used many of her ideas in my homeschool and thought I would share some with you.
Decisions are exhausting, so if I can make a decision just one time, I do. This applies to things like meal planning, curriculum choices, and even daily routines. For instance, my husband has two nights a week that he doesn’t have dinner with us. On one of those nights, the boys and I bake frozen pizzas, and on the other night, we eat homecooked burgers and oven fries. These are two brainless crowdpleasers that are quick and easy, and my boys can help so I don’t have to do it all.
After carefully researching products, I can decide once about a curriculum and not change it unless it doesn’t work anymore. We use the same curriculum for all our kids at different levels. Because of this decision, I only had one company’s instructions to figure out and one program to implement.
My morning routine is another decide once. I decided a while ago to start my day with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and a small pile of books. When I finish with my reading, I take a walk. This is where I am now in life, but there were years when my routine was focused on the kids’ needs and I had to get up before the sun to have a moment alone.
The trick is to Decide Once and then stick to that decision until it no longer functions for you. This principle may take a little more up-front effort as you research and plan. But it is well worth it when your decisions are made already.
You don’t need to jump into the full work schedule on the first day. Start with one skills-based subject (like math) and one content-based subject (history). Get a feel for those for a few days. Then add more subjects a few at a time, working up to your full schedule over a couple of weeks. Starting with a little at a time is less overwhelming and means not everything is new the first full day.
Another way to start small is using short lesson times, working up to the full load. Maybe math takes 15 minutes a day for the first week of school. Your high schoolers can work up to an entire day’s work over a couple of weeks. Maybe you want your family to develop a habit of being outside. Signing up to spend 1,000 hours outside in a year might feel overwhelming. But 20 minutes here and there seems more manageable. Start small and work up to what you want over time.
With young children, all lessons should be kept very short. Their attention span is not long. Break longer lessons into several sessions and rotate between things like reading, listening, and physical activity. By limiting the amount of time they have to pay attention, they can take in more information over time. If you notice that your kid’s eyes are glazed over, stop. Do something else. Come back to it tomorrow. It’s another example of “a little bit goes a long way.”
Ask the Magic Question: “What can I do now to make life easier later?”
This question might lead you to think of things you can do during breaks to make the school year easier. Here are some examples I’ve found helpful over the years: prepare activities for your kids while you listen to a podcast or book or watch TV; make a meal plan and shop specifically for it so that your dinner decisions are already made; stock the school supplies during the sales in July and August, so you won’t be out of pencils or paper in February; gather as many of the books as you need before the year starts.
All of these things you learn as you go. The Magic Question helps you think ahead to what Future You will need so that Present You can proactively plan for it.