If you have chosen to home school your children, you will soon realise that without careful time management, you are doomed to fail. It takes discipline on both the part of the parent and the child for home schooling to be successful. Time management does not mean doing something quickly – it means having the ability to use one’s time effectively and productively.
Before we look at tips for time management for home schooling, let us look at the recommended working hours to put into your Cambrilearn course:
- Primary: one hour per subject per day
- Foundation: one hour per subject per day
- International GCSE: 130 hours per year
- AS Level: 180 hours per year
- A Level: 360 hours per year (inclusive of the 180 hours of AS Level)
These are suggested hours, and obviously you would adapt to the needs of your child – some may need more time than others.
Cambrilearn offers a course calendar or course outline for every stage of study in all subjects. Here you will find a breakdown of work per week to help you prepare your time allocation as accurately as possible. It is downloadable off the site and is an invaluable aid in planning your workload.
Create a Work Schedule
The challenge is to balance schooling and time off, especially as it takes place in the home and distractions could become a real problem. Boundaries need to be created and are to be respected. The first and most important task is to create a work schedule. Have a calendar where time for schooling is entered, as well as other activities such as sports practice, art, theatre, library etc. Flexibility is one of the best benefits of home schooling so if you need to juggle activities around, you can do so, but never lose sight of the bigger picture. You have to ensure your child dedicates time to studying.
The Importance of Downtime
Remember that especially for primary stage children, play time is of paramount importance and must be accommodated in the schedule. Social skills and socio-emotional learning are crucial in a child’s development. If you are able to set time aside for your child to interact with peers, this needs to be considered as well. Downtime or relaxation for students of all ages is important – this must be balanced with the schooling time.
If possible, try and separate work space from general living space. This may not always be viable, but if you can create a study area with computer, stationery, comfortable desk and chair, board (with calendar), it would be preferable. The child needs to leave behind the learning station when the work for the day is completed.
One of the most important life skills parents can teach their children is how to look after themselves and be resilient. Life does not adapt to you – you need to adapt to life and all the problems that may come with it. This has been mentioned above, but it cannot be stressed enough how important it is for children and adolescents to interact with their companions. This is when they learn how to share, negotiate, compromise and stand up for themselves. Making time for sport, cultural activities and general play is of paramount importance. Free play also promotes creativity. Another way of looking at it is that “school or learning time” is undemocratic or authoritarian while free play is democratic and negotiated. A balance between structured and unstructured time, especially for primary stage children, is crucial. Overscheduling robs children of opportunities for self-regulation, agency and creativity.
Allow your child to take some responsibility in structuring the learning time – in what order to complete the tasks, which time of the day he/she is at his best with concentration and application and how long each task should be. Children will apply themselves diligently to work when they have had a hand in creating the process.
At school, your children have subject specialists to teach them. You, as a parent, cannot possibly be expected to know everything about every subject. Do not be afraid to use extra resources to supplement the home schooling process: the internet can provide many ideas for added activities, creative craft and educational inspiration. There are many valuable sites designed for educators, YouTube for videos and social sites such as Pinterest for added activities.
For home schooling to be successful, parents and children need to work together to create an engaging educational system, balanced with free time. Do not be rigid in your approach. If something does not work, do not be afraid to rearrange your system so that both you and your child benefit the most. Home schooling allows for autonomy and flexibility. Use these advantages to improve your particular situation for maximum results. So, on a lighter note: “I am definitely going to take a course on time management … just as soon as I can work it into my schedule!” (Louis E. Boone)