I’m in the midst of homeschooling an 8th, 5th, and 2nd grader along with a precocious K-4er… add to that a 2-year old with a twinkle in his eye and a newborn. It’s a full house around here and I am always on the look-out for tips and tricks that will make our days more peaceful and productive.
This year, we’re using Sonlight 100 for our 8th grader, Sonlight E for our 5th grader, and Sonlight LA 2 for our 2nd grader. This means there’s lots of learning going on at many different levels: there are read-alouds, creative writing projects, Bible songs, research papers, patriotic songs, timelines, maps, vocabulary enrichment, spelling quizzes, and art projects galore.
Surprisingly, much of our daily happiness comes from the decisions we make in the small details of homeschool life: in this case, how we organize assignments, how we arrange our desk space, and how we deal with distractions.
I’ve just gotta share these 3 simple things that have added a tremendous amount of peace to our daily lives this year.
(I received Sonlight 100 in exchange for a series of blog posts that contain my honest opinion.)
Homeschool Assignment Books
I first heard about this very simple method from Sarah MacKenzie at The Read-Aloud Revival (don’t you just love her?). I dug up some spiral notebooks right away.
We’ve been at it for at least 3 years now and here’s why they work for us:
- They provide a daily log of each child’s work. At the end of the year, I flip through these with our evaluator and ask for feedback about my daily expectations. She can see the progress and consistency of our work.
- They are an easy way for each child to see what is expected, to learn time-management, and to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
- They are a simple way for me to set each child up for success for each day. Here’s what works for me: in the afternoon, I grab my “Mom Binder” that contains a 6-week chunk of pages from our Sonlight Instructor Guides and simply transfer the assignments into each child’s assignment book for the next day. Even our 8th grader who follows along in her own Sonlight 100 Student Guide likes that I let her know what I expect from her each day. (Sometimes I jot an encouraging note, a verse from the Bible, or draw a silly cartoon in the margin to spice things up.)
Study nooks make me ask myself one big question: Why has it taken me so long to make this happen?!
For some reason, all of our kids like to do their work downstairs with the whole gang… and all of the hubbub. It’s practically impossible for our 2nd grader not to be distracted by the pre-schooler’s story time, the 2-year old’s antics, or – of course – the little one’s show time. (Who can resist the Treehouse Detectives when stuck in the middle of a math fact sheet?). At any rate, I splurged and spent a few dollars on a tri-fold poster board, cut it in half to make 2 study nooks, and changed our lives forever. These provide just enough privacy to help my 2nd and 5th graders focus on their work. They feel like they have their own place in the world while being in the midst of all of the fun.
The bonus, of course, is that you can decorate the nook with study aides. We post the week’s spelling words, memory work, and math-tips.
As it turns out, our homeschool rivals a rock and roll concert. After all, we need the same equipment! Any variation of our kids may use these noise-cancelling headphones whenever I’ve lost control of things and the 2-year old is jousting with the 4-year old while the baby cries and Mr. Demme calmly teaches about binomials on the TV and the 5th grader practices the A minor scale on her violin. (It kinda does resemble a rock and roll concert, doesn’t it?)
These headphones help whomever can’t focus, to focus. That’s a win.
(When they arrived in the mail, our 8th grader tried them on. Instantly, a serene look came over her face. “Oh, I want to wear these forever!” she swooned.)
Do you have any tips and tricks to add? What helps to bring peace and productivity to your homeschool day? I’d love to know!