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Welcome back to 10 Days of Large Family Homeschooling!
That’s what my husband tells people we do. And yes, sometimes herding cats is a good way to describe the large family life.
Every child is unique and homeschooling a large group of children with varying interests and aptitudes can be just as chaotic as it is rewarding.
Today, I want to share with you some tips and tricks for avoiding the chaos!
1. A Daily Schedule or Routine.
One of the first things you can do to make life less chaotic, is to adopt a daily rhythm to your life that incorporates all the things you need to get done in a day. If you are a regular reader of Raising Arrows, you know how I love to talk about finding out if you are a Schedule Family or a Routine Family and all that entails. It is so important to have a clear idea of how your family runs naturally, so you can harness that and focus it into something that works FOR you rather than AGAINST you.
Lists and charts and plans only work when you can implement them. Sometimes the lack of implementing a plan is laziness and sometimes it is simply the wrong plan. So, be diligent about finding something that works and trying it for a week or two before deciding if it needs a little tweaking or a toss out the window.
Read what other large families are doing. There are plenty of large family blogs out there and they almost always share their daily schedules. But remember, no two families are alike and you will not be able to entirely implement anyone else’s schedule. I spent many years trying to be exactly like the other large families I knew and failed miserably because we weren’t them and our circumstances were very different. Glean what you can and then make it your own.
2. Plan when you can.
There is a vicious cycle that can occur in a large homeschooling family. You need to plan your school day/week/year so things run smoothly, but you are so busy running your large family, you can’t find the time to plan.
That’s why it is crucial you plan when you can.
I do a big overview planning of my school year in the early summer, but I plan specifics every weekend. Truth be told, I look forward to my weekly homeschool planning sessions. Coffee in hand, books all over the place, and a feeling that I am actually accomplishing something is a very happy place for me.
But, not always can I manage my weekend planning session. Sometimes the weekend is just too busy or we are out of town, or some other project needs me. Yet, I know if I don’t plan, I won’t get much accomplished. Because of this, I know I have to find snippets of time somewhere in my day to plan homeschooling stuff.
One of the best ways to do this is to keep a notebook and pen handy and make a list of what you hope to get done that week in your homeschool. If you manage to transfer it to an actual homeschool planner template, then great. If not, no problem…the plan is still there.
3. A crew of vikings.
Yeah, that was random. But, allow me to explain.
Years ago, I heard Gregg Harris give a session at the Midwest Parent Educator’s Conference in Kansas City entitled Row Yourself to the Battle. Vikings never had slaves row them to their next battle, they always did it themselves. And if one viking didn’t do his job, they all paid the price. We brought that concept into our home and homeschool by giving our children a meaningful part to play in the family. Everyone has a job. Every job is needed. Everyone in the family rows, we row together. And if someone is left rowing all by themselves with a project, you will often here,
“Where are the vikings?!”
4. Discipline with purpose.
We’ve all done it. At some point in our parenting we have dealt a punishment that either didn’t fit the crime or made absolutely no sense at all. Despite the mistakes, we should all try to be purposeful in how we discipline. We should strive to make our disciplining biblical and relevant.
This If-Then Chart is a great place to start. It lists the offense with the discipline and the Scripture to back it. I also really like Wise Words for Moms and Parenting with Scripture.
5. The little things that matter.
What are the little things that matter? They are your little people. Your babies and toddlers are a super important part of your day and without a plan for them, you will either spend all day putting out fires or all day playing. There are tons of posts here on Raising Arrows pertaining to homeschooling with toddlers. Do a quick search in the sidebar search box for “toddlers” or Google something like “homeschooling with toddlers“.
6. Free yourself from distractions.
You already have a lot going on, why add to it? My two biggest distractions during school hours are the computer and a messy house. I call it Brain-Clutter and Eye-Clutter.
The computer is my main researching tool and it keeps my always-thinking brain quite happy with information overload. But, this is not a good thing when I should be teaching school. I avoid the bedroom where my computer is until AFTER school hours.
Before we went to a One-Day Home Blessing, I required our weekly chores to be done before school hours for the simple fact I needed a clean home (no eye-clutter) in order to be my most productive. However, I would be more likely to recommend you go to bed with a clean house rather than what I was doing…letting everything go once supper was over.
By the way, if going to bed with a clean house seems like an impossibility to you, may I gently suggest this ebook:
This may sound trite, but if mama is calm, life feels more manageable. Here’s a prayer just for you, homeschool mom!
Caroline @ The Modest Mom says
Those are some great thoughts Amy, thank you for the encouragement! I struggle with keeping the house clean to the standards that my very neat and tidy husband would like, so this was good to read. 🙂
Tiana Krenz says
Good Morning, Amy! Great post!
I just had to share that my husband also refers to what we do as “herding cats”, LOL.
Every one of these area that you mentioned are areas I need to work on. It can seem so overwhelming, but then I remember that what I really need to do is trust the LORD and take one step at a time. Our older two children (ages almost-8 and just-turned-6) now have a morning routine posted on their door that they need to follow every morning. It’s just a few simple things (get dressed, make bed, take clothes to hamper, etc), but it really helps our morning. Instead of having to explain every morning why they aren’t allowed to (fill in the blank) before breakfast, now I just refer them to the postings on their doors. We also had just started a clipboard system for them for that showed them what schoolwork and chores were expected for the day before we lost the baby, but that has fallen by the wayside. It really is a very simple system though, and one that I hope to pick back up again in the near future.
Oh, and one more thing. I’ve asked my husband (and fellow cat herder) to call me each day sometime around lunch, specifically to ask what we’ve accomplished so far in regards to school work, and what we have left to do in the afternoon. At first he was reluctant (he thinks way too highly of me) but it is a great motivator, and it makes me feel like he’s more involved in our day.
Good ideas, Tiana!
KM Logan says
We’re gearing up to home school next year, I’m just loving this series.
Oh good! 🙂
Great post Amy! I second all of that. Thanks for being so encouraging. Lisa~
Thanks for this post. I want to read it more carefully, but I will have to wait until tonight. (The “brain clutter” part was a bit convicting so I should get off the computer!)
Candace @ Sacred Mommyhood says
Love this and agree with each point! I also love how you differentiated between schedule and routine. So important for large families to find what works for their unique family, and not try to follow some else’s schedule and get discouraged.
And I love Wise Words for Moms…have it hanging on the inside of my pantry door for quick reference!
Thank YOU for the encouragement!
Crystal in Lynden says
I especially liked the story in #3. I’m going to keep this one in my mind. Thank you!
You are welcome! It really impacted us too.
Still laughing at your pic of Ty and his tie – a great guy you have there!.
‘a daily rhythm’ – the perfect phrase.
‘glean what you can, make it your own’ – very good advice. trying to keep up or become someone else is a trap we easily fall into.
‘vikings’ – YES!
LOL – we actually took that pic so his mom could see him wearing the tie she bought him for Christmas…of course, he couldn’t resist acting like it was killing him. And now I get to use it! 😉
Lindsey Aylward says
I love the if/then chart. Thank you for sharing! I also thought of you and your family yesterday because I was telling a friend that my husband and I want at least 6 kids. His reply was “Are you on crack?!” No really he said that. Then he told me “You better be making $300,000 per year to take care of all those kids.” I was shocked. I just told him that we aren’t really worried about it. Anywho, thank you for sharing all your great ideas!