Mom! Where’s my (insert book or supply here)? Is your homeschool day continually delayed because everything isn’t prepared and at hand? Sometimes the problem is that someone didn’t return an item to its home; other times, I haven’t prepared. Either way, a little time spent getting things together will improve the situation.
In that case, I make time for it. Teachers in public and private schools have In-Service Days in which they come to work specifically to prepare for the semester, and on those days, the students stay home. These days are written into the calendar ahead of time. In a homeschool, we can still plan to have several hours to work uninterrupted. Creating this time will require childcare if you have young children. If you don’t have family nearby or a regular babysitter, perhaps you can trade days with a homeschooling friend. That way, you can both have time to complete some complex projects without the help of babies.
Plan Your Work
After you have your In-Service time on the calendar, start making of list of things you need to do during those hours. Do you need to send papers to print so you can organize them? Or will you need to print files during your work time? Do you need printer supplies? Or is it time to plan for next year, and you need to research? Making this list ahead of time will help you be efficient during the short time that your children are away.
When my children were younger, in-service time was spent gathering materials, printing and organizing necessary pages, and researching field trips. At one point, I couldn’t find the right plan for the year and created my own elementary school geography-themed picture book curriculum. That was a lot of work, but it did make a great year of study for my preschooler, kindergartener, and third grader. In-Service time also gave me moments to put together bookcases or sort books for use.
Now that my students are older, I spend some In-Service time making sure we have the necessary books and supplies where we can find them. Preferably, they are stored as close as possible to where we’ll use them, so they are quickly put away and easily found. I spend the rest of my In-Service time reading to discuss a book with someone or grading work because I need to keep a transcript. In-Service time is also a lot more flexible now that my kids are older. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a book with me when I know I’ll be waiting on someone at tennis practice or the orthodontist’s office. Those moments become a great time to get small things done.
Enjoy the Result
Regardless of the ages of your children, recognize that you, a homeschooling parent, are a teacher. Your job requires some preparation. You’ll no longer be scrambling to find that worksheet, locate that activity, or hunt down that book. Your days will be smoother and easier if you take the time to prepare well.