In the prior post, ‘Tis the Season, Part I: Before You Go off the Deep End with Lesson Plans, we covered the subject of our homeschool calendars and deciding on activities outside the home. Our calendars filled up quickly when we recorded all the things we were committed to doing AND all our “maybes.” Time is becoming a rare commodity! However, we still don’t have quite the full picture yet. If you need a bit of help with organization, Marlene at A Diligent Heart has a fabulous 2014-2015 planner available on her website that will help you keep better track of your time.
To be as realistic as possible regarding the time you will need to budget for an activity, you must factor in travel. Here’s what a busy week could look like for us without travel time included, and with travel time included. It should be crystal clear from comparing the with and without travel time scenarios just how much travel can impact our schedules. You might be ready at this point to throw in the towel on all activities outside the home and take up the hermit lifestyle. Instead, use your frustration as motivation to make positive changes.
Thin Out That List of “Maybes” – Say goodbye to those activities that are only moderately interesting to your children. I have been guilty of pushing activities on my daughter that she did not really care to do any longer because her interests had changed. Listen to your students and their wants and desires. Some things, like piano lessons, are non-negotiable. But you might be surprised at what your kids are willing to give up without a fight.
Be Realistic – Are you expecting a baby or have a newborn? Are you responsible for a child in public or private school who must be picked up promptly every day? Are you strapped for cash? You may need to bow out of activities outside the home for a season. Or limit it to one activity that every child in the family can enjoy.
Make Good Use of Travel Time – If an activity is more than 10 or 15 minutes from your home, use your travel time to your advantage. The very best use of this time is for reading or music appreciation. Audio books are great options for reading to the whole crew, or students can read independently. Drive time is also a great opportunity to play the works of composers or genres you may be studying in music. Mom or older students can also use this time to quiz younger siblings on subjects such as spelling or history.
Making good use of your travel time sounds fantastic, right? Smart move, you say? Can’t wait to get started?
To use travel time effectively as instructional time you must get organized and minimize distractions.
Plan what you want to cover during travel time just like you would if it was time being spent at home. Make sure everyone knows to bring along the books, CD’s, notes, etc., they will need. Gather these items together ahead of time. Last-minute mad grabs just as you’re heading out the door leave everyone frazzled.
Cut back on socializing. Transport only your own crew. The social butterflies among my readers are probably cringing right about now. But the truth of the matter is that having friends along for the ride will result in very little — if anything — being accomplished.
Be engaged in what’s going on. Moms, get off the cell phones. You will need to participate in study time, even if it is only to keep it on track. Your phone conversation will be a big distraction to your kids. (Not so sure that talking on the cell while driving is a good idea anyway, but that’s another post.) Students should limit their use of electronics, including earbuds, to only those devices and apps they need to complete their work or give privacy.
While these suggestions will help you make use of your time, it may not be necessary to fly solo on every trip out of the house. If your kids greatly enjoy time with friends, and you can spare it, allow them a trip or two each week with company. We can go too far sometimes and close ourselves off completely from others. Homeschooling requires balance, and not everything works for every family. So look at your schedule and decide what you need. Maybe you only need to implement these measures for a short time or only on certain days. Or maybe you are in a place and a season where this really doesn’t apply to you at all. But when you do find yourself scrambling for a little extra time, you have a few ideas on how to find it!