Last week we started my 12 tips on handling those “less-than-perfect” homeschool days. Since it’s near the holiday season, I am following my own whimsical rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas with “The 12 Days of Homeschool.” If you missed the first post, click here. Also, enjoy the fun printable of my little ditty that’s at the bottom of this post.
Today we are covering days four to six.
Four Messy Rooms
Sing with me, “On the fourth day of homeschool my children gave to me, four Messy Rooms, three Toddler Tantrums, two Major Meltdowns, and a headache that lasted ’til three.” Let it be known that homeschool houses are typically hard to keep clean. Why? Human traffic! As mentioned in my first post on these tips, if you teach at home, your kids are home for at least 1,000 more hours than if you enrolled them elsewhere. With that comes MESSY kitchens, MESSY bathrooms, MESSY bedrooms, and MESSY living rooms.
My best advice – start the day with designated chores to tidy up these rooms and end the day with what we called “Five 0’clock Pick-Up Time.” This was a ritual we started when the kids were little. In fact, we put it to song when they were toddlers, singing, “Pick up, pick up, now it’s time to pick up.” Through this little chant, every able body was to pick up toys, books, cups, bowls, and every other stray item in high traffic areas and return these items to their homes BEFORE dad walked in the door at 6:00 pm. I think he knew we didn’t live that tidy all day long (though we never confessed it), but he sure appreciated our efforts. This sense of peace and calm certainly helped usher in a more pleasant dinner hour at 7:00. Of course, like many families, we often lost our routine to ball games and practices from 5:30 to dark, but when possible, our “Five O’clock Pick Up” helped us bring closure to our days and welcome in our nights.
My second best advice on tackling messy rooms is to encourage you to host an “Inservice Day” once a month. Basically, on the first day of the month, we set aside all academic school work to clean closets, de-clutter, and get rid of stuff! We counted the day as a school day (call it Home Economics) but we focused on piles. Honestly, the children grew to despise these days and beg to do math instead because it’s hard work to clean out drawers and closets. But we all enjoyed the end result. (It’s nice when the dresser drawer will slide shut!)
Five Pot-ty Breaks!
“On the fifth day of homeschool, my children gave to me five Pot-ty Breaks!” I have to admit, for the sake of multitasking, I have been known to give verbal spelling tests with me on one side of the bathroom door and one of my students on the other. Who was “on the throne” is irrelevant to my story, though it was probably me trying to make use of my time! (Just saying.) Potty breaks are gonna be one of hundreds of interruptions to your day. Use the time wisely!
And one more potty tip, my favorite book on potty training is “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day” by Nathan Azrin. I never accomplished training in “less than a day,” but I appreciated the wide variety of teaching principles found in the book. The principles would apply to many a subject.
Six Missing Textbooks
“On the sixth day of homeschool my children gave to me, six Missing Textbooks. . . ” Truly it is hard to maintain a tidy homeschool home. With students at home comes more noise, more stuff, and the potential for more displaced items. There were days we spent way too much time searching for missing pens, pencils, and books. Let’s focus for just a moment on the care of school books and materials. We were a fairly relaxed homeschool, meaning that we blocked out hours, but not minutes, for getting our work done, and we studied all over the house rather than at rigid desks. While it was fun to move around for variety’s sake, it meant our books needed to move with us. So, to prevent losing them all over the house, I resorted to storing each student’s primary work in a plastic hanging file folder crate that could easily be transported to the porch, the living area, the kitchen, or a bunk bed (the lower bunk mind you; the upper bunk was tricky!)
A second thing I liked about the crates is that they were large and could hold a pencil box or bag, lots of books & workbooks, and hanging file folders for stray papers that could be labeled by subject. These crates were a little heavy, but in comparison to a backpack (which collapses), they were easy to place on the floor or table and get in and out of in a hurry.
A third thing I liked about the crates is that they were fairly easy to store out of sight. At our home in Orlando, they stored well under a kitchen desk. At our home in Cincinnati, they stored well in an upright storage unit with adjustable shelves. At our home in Memphis, they stored well in our library. (We moved a lot, and our crate concept moved with us.) I hope you find whatever works for you to keep your work accessible and prevent the frustration of “missing textbooks.”
Stay tuned for days seven to nine. And keep going, friends!
Enjoy this free printable::