There are a lot of homeschool productivity suggestions out there.  Some advocate better routines, others ask readers to peer deep into their inner self and consider why they let certain tasks slide.  Usually they advocate making a major shift in your homeschooling style to reach the infamous green pastures on the other side of the fence.  You know those green pastures; the dream you have of sitting in a hammock on a sunny afternoon discussing beautifully written literature, or building award winning robotics in the basement.  These dreams do not include whining, distracting toddlers, or um… reality.

I love reading about how to improve our school, but I’ve found that it isn’t the big things that help my crew to get our lessons done, it is the little ones.


Image 4Entice them into starting

I’m not above a well thought out bribe.  Sometimes the hardest part of school is getting everyone to the table, ready to work, with a good attitude.  By using a lure like BrainPop (5 min educational videos) or a chapter of a favorite book, I can get everyone happily gathered.  Starting with something easy helps us to gain monentum and seeing a small accomplishment checked off of our list gives us an incentive to continue on and do the next thing.

Image 3Keep fingers busy

Kids aren’t mini adults.  Most of them prefer wiggling and running to sitting still. Allowing my crew to fiddle with clay during read-aloud time or online classes (We are particularly enjoying the University of Virginia’s How Thing’s Work right now) has completely revolutionized our attention span.  Other simple finger activities include coloring, wiki-sticks, and simple crochet.

music-176197_640Use music to set the mood

Everyone knows that music can provide relief from a sour mood, but we don’t always take advantage of this simple fact.  Music stimulates the production of Serotonin (the hormone linked to happiness) and elevates mood even after you stop listening.  When my crew is particularly discouraged we take a break and bounce around to an upbeat song like “The Hamster Dance.”  The music doesn’t have to be completely silly, but I’ve found that this song in particular works for my kids, so I’ll stick with it.  The energetic rhythm and exercise always  give us the giggles and set us back on a productive path.

Don’t be afraid of creativity

I know.  I know.  Crafts are messy.   They take up a lot of time.  It is a pain to find all of the materials.  It seems as if they de-rail you from the rest of your day.  BUT as I’ve discussed before, making room for the mess is important.    Crafts give kids the freedom to explore their lessons on their own.  It allows them to use a different part of their brain and increases lesson retention.  When we remove crafts from our school I have grumpier kids who enjoy their lessons less, and despite the increased “teaching” time, I have kids who retain less.


Just like the little items  that I mentioned last week, these little ideas keep us on track.  Do you have little tricks of your own that have revolutionized your homeschool?  I’d love to hear about them.
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The Little Ideas that Help School Get Done

5 thoughts on “The Little Ideas that Help School Get Done

  • January 15, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    I like your idea of reading to them before school begins while they play with clay or whatever, and then adding some soft music. Sounds like a nice way to start the day.

  • January 15, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Gee, I use this on the interns.
    I have actually played “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back” right after lunch to get the neurons spinning.
    I have yet to have an intern who knew it. :)

  • January 15, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    Today was our first day of the homeschool routine. This was great for me to read today.

  • January 16, 2014 at 1:49 AM

    Great ideas! I love to bribe with a read aloud chapter too. They’re into dawdling at mealtimes lately, so I’ll often turn on YouTube videos to watch while they eat. They especially like The Piano Guys music videos.

    • January 16, 2014 at 10:55 PM

      I’ll have to check out The Piano Guys. Thanks for the suggestion!

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