Homeschooling is no easy task, especially with a large family. Keeping everyone focused and on task is key to having a productive homeschool day.
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I have been homeschooling for more than 10 years. I have children with learning disabilities and special needs. I have homeschooled with babies and toddlers on my lap and under foot. Over the years I have learned that there are a few things that always help me to have a more productive homeschool day.
10 Ways to Have a More Productive Homeschool Day
Get Plenty of Sleep
It’s no secret that a successful day starts the night before. Making sure that both you and your children get plenty of sleep sets your day up for success. Though each person is different in the amount of sleep that allows them to function at their best, the following are some good guidelines:
- Newborns to 4 months old – 14-18 hours per day
- 4 to 11 months old – 12 to 15 hours per day including about 4 hours of daytime napping
- 1 to 3 years old – 11 to 14 hours including 1 to 2 naps
- 3 to 5 years old – 10 to 13 hours at night
- 6 to 12 years old – 9 to 11 hours
- 13 years and up – 8 to 10 hours
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Eating a healthy, protein packed breakfast is essential for kids, especially those with special needs such as autism or learning disabilities like dyslexia.
Kids and adults diagnosed with ADHD, ADD, and autism struggle with executive function. Sugar and simple carbs make this struggle even more difficult, especially first thing in the morning. Eating a breakfast high in protein feeds the brain what it needs to function and enhance impulse control.
Use Appropriate Vitamins and Supplements
Every child needs a good multi vitamin. I recommend a whole foods based vitamin that the body will recognize and process efficiently. For increased focus, I also recommend a high quality fish oil supplement.
Multiple medical research studies now show that kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed significant enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. Movement before school activities, especially activities that cross the mid line, improve executive function and impulse control allowing students to perform better.
Even very light physical activity improves mood and cognitive performance by triggering the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, similar to the way that stimulant medications do.
Use Essential Oils
Use of essential oils topically and diffusing them in the homeschool area can greatly impact school day performance for you and your students. Essential oils can increase mental clarity and focus and aide in transitions between activities.
You can get more information about the oils I recommend here. You can also message me on social media for more info. I love to talk oils!
Set a Timer
Setting a timer for specific tasks as subjects that you must get though helps everyone stay on task. It also provides a definite finish time for activities that demand more of students.
Take Brain Breaks
A 2006 study found that students who participated in “energizers” (brain breaks) in their school day improved their on task behavior by up to 20% after energizer activities. It also showed a statistically significant difference in on task behavior between those kids that participated in the energizers versus those students that did not.
Brain breaks can be any quick 5 minute physical activity that gets the student up and moving. These breaks can be used to transition between subjects and activities.
Children not only behave better but concentrate better, follow instructions better, and remember more when they eat healthier food. Let’s not forget that concentration, following instructions, and memory are fundamental building blocks of the learning process and vital for success at school.
The adverse effects of sugar on mood and behavior are well documented. If you are struggling for control of your homeschool day, it’s best to skip the sugar completely.
Have A Plan
You have sure heard the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” This is also true in your homeschool day. Having a plan for what you will accomplish each day will give you and your children something to aim for. It also lets your children know when the “school day” is over.
- Make your plan visible by hanging it on a wall or the refrigerator where your children can see it. They are more likely to buy in to a plan when they know what it is.
- Make your plan easy to understand. This may mean making a plan of pictures in order for a child who cannot read.
- Make your plan accomplishable. You and your child will benefit if accomplishing the plan does not seem impossible.
Download a copy of my simple weekly homeschool assignment calendar below. This is the exact form I use to keep my kids on track each week.