Time Management for Homeschoolers

I am thinking about time management on two levels right now: first, for the children, who in the absence of “homework” somehow still have to learn how to manage their own time.

Second, I am having to manage my own time differently these days.

On the children’s level, our school-attending neighbors and friends live their days in their middle schools, changing classes at the bell, but still have to learn how to manage homework and soccer practice and feeding the dog all in the few hours they have in the evening.  Some kids do better with this than others.

Many homeschoolers operate with a daily “schedule” with a plan to do, say, math from 8:30-8:50, then English from 8:50-9:10… you know what I’m talking about.  I know lots of moms for whom a really pretty color-coded spreadsheet of who is where and when works really well.  But I wonder at what stage those kids progress out of being micro-managed by a spreadsheet into managing their own time wisely. (I’m sure that answer is different for different kids.)

I have moved our children off a “schedule” onto a to-do list, with all the school tasks (including chores) on their list for each day, and no reward time (whether that be 15 minutes of “free computer” or other screen time) until everything is completed.  So far, this plan is working for the two boys (ages 9 and 12.)  My 8 year-old still needs a lot of prompting and help to make it through her list.  (And my 5 year-old will be able to check more off her list once she can read it.)

But my time management is a real challenge right now.  The children have moved out of needing me every minute.  Now they need me for three minutes every fifteen, say, which leaves me (after spending three minutes per child) three minutes for myself every fifteen minutes.  What am I supposed to do with that?

I admit to being a project girl: I like big projects, big challenges, hard things.  I like big chunks of time in which to do my hard projects.  I like long runs.  I like long books, not short magazine articles. I also like long conversations, instead of two sentence status updates on facebook.  If I liked facebook more, those three minutes I have wouldn’t seem so baffling to me.

How do you manage your time as your children get older and work more independently?  How do you teach them to be more independent in time management?  Please share in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Time Management for Homeschoolers

  1. Oh… yes, the great how on Earth do we get this right issue. Will I spoil him for college because I set bad due dates or will he just have to ask for extensions winsomely question? And does this apply to all the kids or just the teenager I worry about habitually?

    Ben does have a daily checklist, right now it’s a few days behind because even if he is a week ahead in geometry, how do you write a short essay on John Lock when Mr Lock was so verbose (he’d have been a whole lot easier to read if Hemmingway was his ghost writer.)

    M needs me around for all but the short skill practice “chores” that are automated on the computer – spelling rules, memory work recordings to listen to, a phonics game that he hates, the times table.

    K and I still do her lessons – she’s mad at me if I forget.

    As for chucks of time for me, I can slip fun things into little pockets, I just don’t seem to notice if the pocket expanded and split the seams and my change is falling on the sidewalk. You mean the crock pot had to be started at breakfast to give us dinner on time? You mean I have to shovel the snow before it freezes?

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