“I forgot”.

“I didn’t know”.

The Mintz Kids when asked why they haven’t completed their work.

If you’re like me, you become frustrated hearing “I forgot” or “I didn’t know” repeated daily. It can be exhausting checking in behind kids to make sure their schoolwork and housework are completed and then calling them back to fix or finish it.

Here are 6 tips I’ve found most helpful in facilitating more peaceful and productive homeschool days:

Create a Schedule: We have a tight schedule held loosely. This means we have a weekly schedule that includes a time for everything we hope to accomplish throughout each day, but I’m not legalistic or rigid about it. I call our homeschool style a freestyle because although we have a schedule, we follow it based on the rhythm and flow of our day + plus our schedule is constantly being remixed. If they want to do grammar when math is scheduled, they have the freedom to do that. If they’ve really gotten into a book they’re reading or something they’re writing, I won’t make them stop to move on to the next subject. I often allow them to work on a subject longer than it was scheduled, so depending upon how the day is flowing we don’t always get to everything on the schedule. There are days when we do nothing on the schedule and we’re ok with that. Below is a generic version of my homeschool schedule template:

Click the image to download a printable PDF

Using a Timer: My children are very creative, have diverse interests, and multiple talents. This can lead to them being completely distracted at times. There are days when they’re supposed to be doing reading, writing, or arithmetic but instead, they’re drawing, dancing, and talking about video games, manga, or anime. On the days when they’re totally distracted if I give them all day to do their work, they’ll take all day to do their work. So, I have them set a timer to help them focus and manage their time more efficiently.

Using Checklists: I teach my children to do what they have to do, so then they can do what they want to do. Sometimes, they will rush through what they have to do, so they can get to what they want to do more quickly. When this happens, schoolwork and chores are often left half done or certain tasks may not be done at all. So I’ve created detailed checklists for schoolwork and housework. These checklists help remind them of their responsibilities and the standards for completing them.

For example, here’s our kitchen checklist which includes a list of tasks they’re responsible for completing when cleaning the kitchen.

Click here to download and print the kitchen checklist for your family. After printing, slip it into a page protector or laminate it, and use a dry erase marker to check off daily kitchen chores as they are completed.

Creating Charts: When they were smaller we used personalized charts with star stickers to incentivize them. They loved putting a sticker on the chart for every task they completed and would be so proud as the week progressed and their charts filled with stars. On Fridays, they’d be so excited to go to the Dollar Tree to spend the dollars they earned on a treat or a toy. Below is an example of Journee’s chart from when she was little.

Taking Breaks: I know it may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to increase productivity is by taking breaks. Research shows that taking breaks increases focus, productivity, happiness, and creativity.

I’m not just talking about a lunch break or snack break. Those are definitely necessary, but I’m talking about dance breaks to help energize them or song breaks just for fun.

For more “break” ideas read our post 12 Ways to Keep Your Kids Engaged: When They’re Disinterested and You’re Ready to Give Up

Setting a good example: After feeling overwhelmingly busy yet not very productive these past few months, I decided I needed to create a schedule for myself. I remembered the family schedule I created years ago to help me balance homeschooling, household duties, and nursing when my children were younger and decided to revise and update it to help me create more balance between homeschooling and working. When I am distracted and unfocused they become distracted and unfocused which leads to frustration and fussing.

So I have to model the value of peaceful productivity that I want to instill in them.

Having a schedule and clearly set expectations in writing keeps us all accountable for our personal productivity facilitates an atmosphere of peacefulness.

I hope you’ll find these 6 tips helpful on your homeschool journey.

Leave a comment and let us know what you use to keep your children focused for more peaceful and productive days.

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