Mom-to-Mom Support/Do you have any thoughts about time management in our homeschool?

Do you have any thoughts about time management in our homeschool?

Girl studying independently


Do you have any thoughts on time management in our home school? This year my 12-year-old daughter joined us after being in public school since K. And we also have a new baby. I am finding the cries of “Mom, come and help” coming at me from all directions. While having my daughter home is an answer to prayer, I miss being able to converse with my children more and being more present to each. I’m sure that with your experience and number of children you have some good thoughts.

Dear Mom,

There are those days when I feel I have been literally pulled in every direction. But like you, the times that seem the most frustrating to me are those times when the older children will not work on their own and require that I stay with them and literally “pull’” the information out of their brains for them. I have to be very careful that I do not fall into the habit of being their conscience. In other words, they have to learn to be responsible for a certain amount of work that is done independently and checked by me later. If I fall into the trap of pulling information out for them, then this eats up valuable time that I need to work one on one with a child that truly needs my help.

We do not do our children a service when we do their work for them. One of the most important skills any student can develop is the ability to work independently and to be responsible for the work that is required of them. Look to the teachers in the public system. There is not the time in the day for the teacher to sit with each child and do their work or assignments with them. However it is important to remember that teaching a student to work on his own with a pure sense of industry not only frees the teacher, but also instills in the student an important culpability for what is required of him.

Truly, as homeschooling moms, we do have the freedom to spend more time on subjects or concepts that seem to be giving our students trouble; but that does not mean that we allow them to transfer the burden of practice, work, and study to our shoulders. This is especially true if the student is an older child and can do the work quite well without our help.

There comes a time when children must finish their assigned work in a timely fashion so that they can get on with life. This is a discipline that all people must develop. I set the boundaries early on. I explain what is expected and the amount of time allotted for the task. I try very hard not to waver on this priority. My children sense when my resolve may not be in the heart of my request. When the task is accomplished and meets the criterion I have set, then I feel a reward is in order. I like to be rewarded when I have accomplished something that I thought I couldn’t, and I suppose that children are no different. Certainly this physical reward will give way to the greater reward of the satisfaction we feel when we accomplish a difficult task. As far as timing a task, I merely set the kitchen timer and try to be realistic in the amount of time I allow. One of my children has dyslexia, and the amount of time it takes her to do a task is longer than my children without this challenge.

You will appreciate this concept even more if you are called to homeschool through the high school years. We must remember that we are preparing our children to not only have the skills to go further with their education beyond high school, but also to be responsible persons no matter their station in life.

I would suggest that if you have not already begun using a planner for your daughter’s studies you begin so. This can be as simple as a spiral bound notebook in which you keep a record of the assignments that are expected of her. Tie her privileges to the responsibility of finishing her “homework” on her own.

Encourage her to work through problems without asking for help at the first challenge. Do not fall into the trap of doing your children’s work for them. Of course reward your student that accomplishes a difficult task. Even though there are mistakes, they have tried to do the work well, and this actually makes it easier for you to teach the concept. You have something to work with in your instruction.

I have had to make a rule in our house about the “MOM” call. It seemed that every time I was in the middle of a difficult explanation or concentrated effort with one of the children, someone would call my name. Certainly I did not mind being interrupted for something major, but it was usually something simple, like how do you spell “aggravate?” I feel that a student should learn to use the dictionary when they do not know how to spell a word. Therefore, we have certain times of the day and certain subjects with certain students in which no interruptions are allowed. You are rewarded by your effort to solve, fix, look up or figure out a challenge on your own during this time. For example, when I am teaching Chemistry to my daughter, everyone knows that I do not want to be interrupted.

A nursing baby brings a lot of challenges to the homeschool, but no more than can be resolved with clear communication and expectations of what is expected of everyone. Families have the great blessing of teaching important life skills through the day-to-day matters. Just the fact that you recognize that there needs to be some changes is an important step to getting many of the issues resolved. Approach the challenges with a clear understanding of what needs to be done to alleviate some of the problems. Pinpoint areas that need to be improved, and reward those who help and try to make a difference.

Your letter was a powerful witness for me. I was uplifted by the last sentence which expressed the need for better time management in order to have time for the children. I want to remain focused upon the importance of having time to communicate with my children. Your letter reminded me to focus upon the children individually and to work to make those pockets of time available. Thank you. Praise God.

I think that this is a priority that would certainly be well within the Lord’s will for us as moms/teachers. Through prayer and a docility of spirit, surely the good Jesus will illuminate for us ways to better manage our time and make this possible. When time is lacking, it is important that we go to the Giver of time, Our Lord.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

About Rita Munn

Rita Munn is a veteran homeschool mother of ten. For many years she was a popular speaker at Catholic homeschooling conferences. Writing has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember, and she loves to use her writing skills to share her homeschooling experience with other parents. Her “family journal” reflections are featured in CHC’s Educating for Eternity e-newsletter.