How to Build Healthy Habits for Homeschooling
Welcome to Healthy Habits Homeschooling edition!
No matter how you feel about the fact you are homeschooling your child, the process of it can be as smooth and painless as possible. I'm here to help you help your child create the healthy habits of homeschooling.
When your child goes to school her teachers plan the classroom with her in mind. She has a designated place to sit, a designated place for her lunch, her water bottle, a cubby for her work and other belongings. She knows exactly where to go to get what she needs. She knows the routine of the day, when recess will be and lunch. She knows what time you will pick her up. All of this helps her focus better on school, she's not thinking about where to put her things or where her lunch is or who will be teaching her that day.
Our task as parents, currently, is to help provide the same structure at home. Conveniently a little more effort up front will also make your days at home with your child a little easier. For example, packing your child's lunch as you would if she were going to school means that when lunch time comes around she can go to her lunchbox rather than to you.
Here's a snapshot of what we are doing in our home and how you can translate the science of healthy habit formation to your homeschooling experience:
- We created a designated school area. We are fortunate to have enough space to set this up. Even if you are space limited, however, having one location for your child to complete her homeschool work is very important. Ideally it would be a location in which she does not do anything else. That doesn’t mean she needs her own office, but a desk in her room that is just for school, or in a corner of the living room that is her own, or a different seat at the dinner table from where she would normally sit to eat. Knowing exactly where she should set up for her school day helps her be mentally prepared and take the guesswork out of where she should be.
- We make sure the designated school area is tidy and ready for the next day. All completed work goes into one folder, the work for the next day is laid out, the folder containing the rest of the work for the week is laid out (in case the teacher improvises), pencils are sharpened, spilled glue is cleaned up, all paper cuttings are swept away. When school starts the next day everything is ready to go.
- We have pre-agreed upon recess activities. Our youngest knows that during recess he is to take his snack (apple chips and almonds typically, portioned in small ziploc baggies and set out on his desk for him) and his water bottle (filled by him each morning) to the backyard and play with the dog while he eats. He does not need to ask me what to do or for a snack. He is prepared and empowered to act independently.
- He has a sweater on the back of his chair in case he gets cold.
- He knows that he is supposed to look for things on his own first. If he comes to ask me for help finding something my first question is, “Where have you already looked?” If he hasn’t looked anywhere yet he gets sent back to his desk to search before I will help him. This is currently our biggest struggle. He “looks” but as we tell him he isn’t seeing what he’s looking at.
- His lunch gets packed the day before or morning of and is placed right next to his desk. When he breaks for lunch he is allowed to eat at the dinner or patio tables.
- When he is done with lunch he has to do whatever homework or asynchronous work he has been assigned.
- Then he has to clean and tidy up his desk before he is done for the day.
Has this created a little extra work for us? Of course, but not all that much extra and the relative ease of our homeschool days is dramatically different than in the spring when both us and the school were scrambling to get it all together. Being able to get work done from home without having him ask me for water, or snacks, or what to do, or where is this, or what do I do next, one hundred times between 9am - 3pm is a game changer.
Remember, do it the same way everyday and your son or daughter will pick up on the routine. This is in her wheelhouse. She’s used to this at school. You might get a little pushback at first but she’ll cool her heels and stop digging in once she realizes this is how it’s going to be done from now on. You got this mamas and papas!