If there was ever a year that we needed some hacks to get through, it’s gotta be this one. Whether you’ve been schooling since July or just started this week, it’s becoming clear that we need all the homeschool hacks we can get in saving time and energy to focus on what’s important right now.
About this time last year, I shared one of my favorite Saxon math get-em-to-work-and-not-complain hacks from a Nicole the Math Lady mom. But with virtually all of us now sharing more home space with our kids and trying to figure out what a very different school year might look like, we need even more. So without further ado, here are 13 tried-and-true homeschool hacks that just might help you out.
Draft mode for printing. Ink is liquid gold, amiright? No one wants to pay more than they have to for ink, and most things we print for school don’t need to be the highest quality. Setting your printer to both draft mode and printing in black-and-white can save you a ton of ink (and money!).
Audiobooks. The world of audiobooks has gotten even more and more accessible over the last few years. Libraries have beefed up their Overdrive collections of e-books and audiobooks so that this has become a really useful homeschool hack. New apps like Libby and Hoopla have made it easier than ever to access great writing without leaving home. Great for reluctant readers, on-the-go teens, and busy moms.
Movies that Educate. Speaking of free time, don’t underestimate the power of movies to fill in the gaps when you just don’t have or can’t muster the energy to get through every. single. Lesson. There are some wonderful homeschool moms who have put together blog posts on movies that dovetail with just about every curriculum and study topic you could imagine.
Institute Quiet Time (and Rest Yourself). This one can be a fight–tons of kids HATE the idea of quiet time initially. But if you can stay the course for a week of two and get everyone used to the idea of an hour or more of time to themselves, the downtime will benefit everyone in the family. And mama, don’t forget that you need a quiet time, too. Nap or read or touch base with a friend. You’re worth that!
Default to the Basics. When life gets in the way and you find yourself wonderinig how all the school will get done, remember to default to the basics. Daily Saxon math, reading, and writing lessons will pay off in spades in the future. Consistency, you’ll remember, is king. OF COURSE science, history and social studies are important. But individual students can easily add those once they have the basics down. So focus there give yourself some grace on the rest.
Short Lessons Trump Long Lectures. Only got 15 minutes to teach a lesson? Make it a quality 15 minutes and go for it. Think about how short most Saxon and Nicole the Math Lady videos are. Short, but packed. Sure, kids can concentrate much longer than fifteen minutes, but that’s about the amount of time that you’ll get them at their best. Do the teaching, let them practice, and come back to it for mastery.
Shoe Organizer For Supplies. This is a simple one, but if you hate clutter, it’s important!, A hanging shoe organizer on the back of the door will hold all the little things you need a catch-all for.
Color-coded School Supplies. Use a sharpie with a different color for each kid, and when you find a pencil with a purple dot on it or a glue stick labeled red, you’ll know exactly whose it is!
School at Odd Times. Remember, at home, you’re not bound to the same hours as traditional school. You may find you have a kid who loves to do Saxon with breakfast. Great! And another who just loves to save science to do with Dad after dinner. Fantastic (and bonus points for outsourcing a subject). You probably have way more time to get school done than you realize, so embrace those odd hours.
Meal Planning. How is this a homeschool hack? See, having a plan for what to eat frees up your mental energy to deal with all the lessons and hiccups that come with any given school day. It may be more adulting than you’d like to do, but it can be a huge sanity-saver.
YouTube Lists. Hallelujah for the YouTube playlists that folks have made of…well…everything. Much like the lists of movies mentioned above, you’ll find a lot of great content on YouTube that’s been curated by subject, curriculum, or interest. Kid having trouble with logic? Looking for a great science experiment? Need to learn how to conugate a tricky foreign language verb? There’s probably a YouTube list that will help.
Talking is Teaching. Even without the books out, and even without following a formal curriculum, you can teach your kids of every age so much by simply talking to them. You’ll find out their questions, work together to solve problems, share some great lessons you’ve learned if you take the time just to talk. Don’t underestimate that, and don’t let academic stress steal that joy from you!
Keep a Whiteboard Handy. All that talking? It’ll probably draw out something you want to illustrate. Having a whiteboard and Expo marker (or three) around the house will help you do that without it being a major production.
What about you? Got any great homeschool hacks that are saving your sanity right now? Let me know so we can share them.
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