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!

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