So long 2020! If you’re like me, you’re glad to see 2020 in the rearview mirror as you head happily and hopefully into 2021. It seems like last year was a hard one for almost everyone I know, even if their family wasn’t directly impacted by COVID-19. All of us are glad for a fresh start.

That’s exactly what I love most about the New Year: A chance for a new beginning for each of us. No matter what happened in 2020, we have a clean slate before us this year. Of course, one of the top areas where that applies for readers of this blog is their homeschool.

If you haven’t already restarted school after the holiday break, you probably will shortly. That’s why we’re sharing this blog post today—we want to set you up for success in 2021 with these 4 homeschool habits. We hope you find these inspiring and motivating for the New Year!

1. Get on a schedule that works for your family

Having a plan makes your day go more smoothly. Just remember that it has to be a plan that works for your situation. A lot of productivity experts claim the secret to a productive day is getting up early, but if you and your crew aren’t early risers you’ll only produce grumpy kids and frustrated parents.

What I favor is a block schedule. This approach isn’t tied to a certain time of day. Instead, it’s all about linking specific blocks to specific activities. For example, my block schedule has “household” as the first block of the day. So when we arise in the morning, we eat, get dressed, brush teeth, care for the pets, and tidy the house (put away dishes, sweep floors, take out trash, etc.). The next block is “work,” followed by our “homeschooling” block.

The big takeaway: Create some sort of schedule so that you and your kids know what will happen and in what order. Some days may need adjustment, which is easier to do if you had a schedule in the first place. I highly encourage you to create a schedule if you haven’t done so and see how it can improve your homeschooling (and other areas of your life).

2. Plan and prep meals

One of the ways that my day gets off track is when I have to spend valuable time figuring out what to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and then making it. At the end of the day, I am mentally spent and it’s hard to get inspired and find the energy to make meals. 

I find that our homeschooling goes much better if I take some time on the weekend to make a few items for the week ahead. Even if I don’t make something, just creating a menu is a big help to avoid the “What’s for dinner?” blues at the end of the day. 

If making extra food on the weekend isn’t your thing, try to double meals when you make them and freeze the extra one. I find that a combination of making batches on the weekend and using the crock pot works best for me. Regardless of how you do it, planning and prepping meals ahead of time makes for an easier day and gives you more time for homeschooling.

3. Get the kids involved

One of the fastest ways for homeschooling parents to burn out is to try to do everything on their own. You can’t make all the meals, do all the teaching, and be the only one who runs the house for very long before you have nothing left to give to your family. 

The solution? Handing some responsibility to your kids. Kids thrive when given responsibility, and they feel a sense of pride in contributing to the well-being of the family. Sure, when they first have to begin to do chores they may whine and complain, but as they get used to the work they begin to feel competent and capable. 

Will they do everything as well as you would like? Not at first. You will need to work alongside them for a while until their skills improve. My eight-year-old son puts away the dishes mostly on his own now and he does a better job than his dad! He feeds the pets, takes out trash, folds some laundry, and can load and unload the dryer. His help with these chores lightens my load and gives me more free time at the end of the day to play with my son.

4. Take time to refresh

The life of a homeschooling parent is one of sacrifice. When we decided to homeschool, we took on a new full-time job. It’s important to take time for ourselves to do something that refreshes us so that we can keep giving ourselves to the important task of educating our children. I’ve gotten into a bad habit of working once my son is asleep for the night. Sometimes it’s necessary, but I’ve come to realize that I have to take a slice of that time for myself if I want to keep having the mental energy to go the distance with our homeschooling. Find what refreshes you and make the time to do it.

Wrapping up

I promise that if you implement these tips you will find that your homeschool time will go much better, you will have less stress, and you will be able to carve out more time for family fun and refresh yourself too. 

Happy New Year! May 2021 be your best homeschool year yet.