There’s not a mom out there that doesn’t desire a more productive homeschool day. Juggling the many needs of running a home, caring for family needs, and nurturing a marriage can often leave us out of time or out of energy when it comes to teaching our kids at home.
I wrote my yearly homeschool day-in-the-life post last week where I shared what my homeschool day looks like. Hint: it’s probably a lot like yours – filled with interruptions, distractions, and wanting to get more done than there is time for.
One habit we have mastered however, is making sure we accomplish at least our minimum viable school day.
You may have heard of the business concept called the minimum viable product. Making the minimum viable product means to make the simplest, best product you can and start selling it even though it’s not the best that it could be. It is good enough and can be improved later.
In our homeschool, I use the concept of a minimum viable school day as a way to be intentional about the minimum amount of school work to get done each day. Not only does this make me more focused on essentials, it helps to keep anxiety and overwhelm from taking me hostage. Completing a minimum viable school day ensures that my kids are doing something (even a small amount) in key subjects most days. It is the minimum amount of school we can accomplish and still feel good about our day. It’s not for every day but if it was, my kids would still be banking enough learning in the core subjects to add up to productive learning.
I was inspired to think about the concept of a minimum viable day by fellow homeschool blogger, Pam Barnhill, who writes about how to establish a Minimum Viable Morning. She details 5 simple steps for establishing key morning habits that set you up for a successful homeschool day. Her ebook happens to be on sale right now. Here’s a link. It’s a great quick read. I highly recommend it.
How establishing a minimum viable day increases productivity.
There is great value in thinking about what makes up the essentials of our homeschool day. Once we’ve taken the time to think this through, we’re better able to choose widely when other non-essential things vie for our time.
Also, because our minimum viable homeschool day is manageable – meaning it doesn’t take a ton of time and energy, I feel confident that – with focus – I can get it done most days. Establishing a minimum viable homeschool day gives me confidence and momentum as I build a habit of doing our core school daily.
The Minimum Viable Homeschool Day: Dyslexia Edition
Our minimum viable homeschool day with elementary kids with dyslexia
One lesson from our Orton-Gillingham reading curriculum. To learn more about what we do in a lesson, read this post on what’s included in an OG lesson and download my free OG lesson planner.
Honestly, there are days when I don’t have time for an entire lesson. There are days when my kids can’t handle an entire lesson. My minimum viable reading lesson is to review sight words, build some words on the All About Reading letter tile app, and have them read a story from their reader or fluency sheets. My kids with dyslexia need a lot of review and even a small amount each day adds up to a lot!
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. – Lao Tzu
One lesson from math. We LOVE Teaching Textbooks for math because our kids can almost always do a lesson on their own. If unable to work on their own and I’m not available for some reason, I print off a math facts work sheet or two from the Math U See web site. Again, a little bit everyday is better than nothing and even a small amount of review daily helps.
We almost always have an audio book that we’re listening to. Interestingly, we started listening to audio books when I had mischievous toddlers who would flush things down the toilets while I was captivated by reading books aloud to my older kids. Having someone else read meant I could listen and keep an eye on my younger kids. Plus the narrators are way more interesting than me. Audio books are amazing! Right up there with having a cleaning lady if you ask me. 😉 Audio books (and reading aloud if able) provide a substantial amount of learning. From geography and history to character and life lessons, good literature is an essential part of our school days.
Copious amounts of research declare the importance of time spent outside playing. From the vitamin D, to the exercise, to the imaginative play that it inspires, outside play is an EASY essential to add to my minimum viable day.
How to Plan for Your Minimum Viable Homeschool Day
Ask yourself, what are the 1, 2, or 3 things absolutely essential to a ‘successful’ homeschool day. For kids with dyslexia (often accompanied by memory issues) I recommend focusing your limited time and energy on reading, writing, or spelling. Determine which area your child needs at this point in time.
Suggestions for reading:
- review sight words
- read through fluency sheets
- reading aloud to an older sibling
- copywork – copy an interesting sentence (or 2 or 3 depending on age and ability) or a list of spelling words
- pick something for review, for example, if your child read a story from their reader the last time you did school, have them read it on their own
- reading apps like Nessy, Logic of English, or All About Reading
- speaking a ‘sloppy copy’ of a paper into Dragon Dictate or another speech-to-text app
Suggestions for math:
- complete a math lesson independently, if possible
- print off a math fact worksheet or use another hands on math program
- play a strategy game with siblings
- help a younger sibling with their math
- listen to skip counting songs on CD or online
The Big Picture
I get heartfelt emails every day from moms who are struggling to get it done. I wrote an entire post on strategies for getting more done as a homeschoolers. Although my kids are older now, not long behind me are the days of toilet flushing toddlers and babies who would. not. sleep.
During those years, I learned to love the teachings of British educator, Charlotte Mason. She was a proponent of short, intense lessons, quality literature, and lots of time spent outside. She also gave an amazing list of three things to provide for your kids daily:
- something to do,
- something to love, and
- something to think about.
These three things are fundamental to a rich child hood and can be achieved, despite interruptions to our regular homeschool schedule, with a minimum viable homeschool day.