Finding Time for What’s Important in Your Homeschool

by | Aug 12, 2015 | Teaching Tips | 7 comments


We’re talking about planning for the new homeschool year this week.

So far we’ve talked about:

The discussions in the comments and over on the Homeschooling With Dyslexia Facebook Page have been great.  If you want to talk with like-minded homeschool parents, I recommend ‘liking’ the page and getting involved.

Today we’re going to talk about how to make sure that what is really important gets done.

We talked previously about figuring out what is important. Remember:

Families homeschooling kids with dyslexia have to prioritize teaching reading and spelling because in many ways these skills are the foundation of learning.  This takes time and consistency to really work.

That’s great but there is only so much time in the day.

So how do we get it all done?  Well, to be honest, we don’t.  We get done what is important and let the rest go – or find a tutor or a co-op or some other help.  But you, mama, can only do so much and you have to accept that.

Finding Time For What is Important

1.  Targeting trouble spots.  If you’ve been following this series, you’ve got your schedule in place, but there is something (or things) that just aren’t getting done.  First, ask yourself how important these things are.  It is commonplace to add too much to the schedule, especially at the beginning of a new semester or year.

Remember my example of the Botany class in my previous post?  I mention this because I seem to fall prey to this scenario every year.  Even though our kids do science at our co-op every week, I’d like to do more.  Nothing wrong with that, right?  So I find a wonderful Botany program with 150 lessons and add it to my schedule.  The problem is that I don’t have time for Botany every day or even every week!

What is on your schedule that isn’t getting done?  First ask yourself if it is a priority.  If not, save it for another year.  If it is, keep reading.

2.  Brainstorm work arounds.  There is a lot of freedom in homeschooling.  Here are some of the best ways I have found to be sure that our priorities are being covered:

  • Modify.  If you’re homeschooling kids with dyslexia, modifying your curriculum is something that you will be doing a lot of.  For more ideas on how to modify curriculum that isn’t working, read this post.  In my Botany example above, we tossed the 150-lesson curriculum.  Since we had planted a garden that year, we used that experience and added to it some read alouds and documentaries from the library.  We have ongoing nature journals so we added things of interest to those when we had time.  Better to do a little than feel rotten or do none at all, right?
  • Get help.  We don’t need to be limited to the idea that moms (or dads) are the only teachers.  Got kids?  They make great helpers!  Another area where I was struggling last year was with reading aloud to my younger kids.  This was a non-negotiable, yet it still wasn’t getting done!  As I brainstormed ideas for adding more reading time to my little guys’ schedule, I realized that my oldernkids could easily read the kinds of books the little ones were interested in.  I added this to our schedule and so far it seems to be working well for both sets of kids.

Other ways to get help would be to have husbands, grandparents or friends to teach certain subjects.  We have hired reading tutors in the past which was very helpful for that busy season with lots of littles in our lives.

  • Anchoring.  Now that my kids are older and their are no more babies and toddlers in the house, we usually don’t have as much trouble fitting in reading, spelling and math.  They are the highest priority around here.  It’s smaller things like art, reading aloud, memory work and extra projects that I have trouble fitting in sometimes.  When I ‘anchor’ these things to other important activities, then I remember to do them and after time they become habit.  For example, we read aloud after lunch.  Everyone is home and in the same place and so I keep our current read aloud on the table and as often as possible we read after lunch – and sometimes after dinner too!  
  • Delegate non-teaching things.  In our house with 8 kids, cooking and cleaning take up a lot of time.  Recently, during a brainstorm session about how to fit more time in for blogging, I realized that our 4 older kids actually are pretty decent cooks.  I sat down with them and discussed the idea of each of them cooking dinner once a week.  They were actually excited about it.  It took some planning and trial and error but now I have four afternoons free from kitchen duty and a little extra time to write.  Other areas to delegate are house cleaning and laundry.

3.  Add work arounds to the schedule.  Once you’ve got your work around, add it to the schedule.  Schedules need to be posted and referred to often for about a month before they seem to become more of a habit.

Some Truth

The truth about schedules is that no day ever really goes entirely to plan.  Schedules are more for a guide to help us stay on course.  I often say that having realistic expectations is half the battle as a homeschooler.  I imagine that after reading the last few posts, you have a clearer idea of what kinds of expectations we should have.

In my next post, we’ll talk more about expectations and the big picture of homeschooling.  Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how all of the current craziness will work together but so far and in my experiences, it always does.

What creative work arounds have you discovered?  Share in the comments below!

Linking up with the iHomeschool Network Hopscotch.  For more great posts from top homeschool bloggers, click the image below:




  1. Holly Lomelino

    Thanks so much for this post full of helpful advice! I loved it. Here is one creative way we have tried to fit everything in with 5 kids 10 and under and the oldest one being dyslexic…

    Similar to your reading aloud after lunch idea, I have found that taking advantage of breakfast time to add in things that would be hard to get to otherwise has been very helpful. We say memory verses together during breakfast, then read a devotional type thing, and also do First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind all together during breakfast. It is something I would not be able to fit in otherwise but have loved being able to get to in this simple way!

    • marianne

      Love this idea Holly. Thanks for sharing! Now I’m thinking of things to add to our breakfast time. 🙂

  2. Laura

    Spelling work around – take words directly from the child’s lessons in each subject, include definitions. The words will be relevant to what they have to study anyway.

  3. Molly

    My biggest hardship with homeschooling schedules is my two year old. I have a two year old and I’m homeschooling my dyslexic eight year old. No other children, no one else home to help. My eight year old always has such a hard time focusing after lunch that I’m rushing and struggling to get it all done in a short window of time. All the while, my two year old is either demanding my attention, or distracting my eight year old while playing. Any tips for that scenario?

    • Kim

      We had a box that was ONLY allowed out for the younger sibs to play with during school. Since it was ONLY out for that short window of time, the younger kids found it more interesting. I put in games that they could do themselves, or with minimal supervision. One funny thing that actually occupies little kids pretty well is a box of paper cups. You can build quite a bit with them, do lots of putting counting/sorting items in them, or do pretend play (like a restaurant, build a bee hive, or mini-stuffed animal resort, etc.) I found inexpensive toys at garage sales or on the clearance racks, and there were always homeschool co-op used curriculum sales, etc., and I bought stuff that what age appropriate for their current age, and then the next stage up as well. I would rotate items in the box every month or so, depending on how well the current box was working. If the kids were getting bored with it, I’d change it out sooner. BUT I always put the toys/games/books back into the box and put the box up on the top shelf when we were done with the portion of school where I had to work one-on-one with the older kid(s). It kept the box stuff special, and it worked fairly well. Was it a 100% fix? Nope. I think a nanny might have been a sure, 100% total fix, but…. 😉 I also had teen nieces/nephews who came over weekly and I could sometimes squeeze in some school with the bigger kids while the cousins played elsewhere.

      • Marianne

        Great tips Kim. Thanks!


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