My biggest homeschool struggle has been consistency. As I begin my 19th year of homeschooling, I want to take steps to grow in this area. I know I’m not alone in the struggle, so I am sharing my tips with you.
In thinking about consistency, I realized that it is highly related to personality. Those of you who have heard me speak about personality know that my typology of choice is that developed by Florence Littauer, author of Personality Plus. There are four basic personalities which can create combinations. But today I’m only going to review the four main personalities, so I can share tailor-made tips for helping you to become more consistent.
Homeschool Consistency for Popular Sanguine Personalities
The first personality type we will discuss today is the Popular Sanguine. I want to begin with this personality because this type has the most difficulty remaining consistent. This is not to say that the other personalities don’t also have challenges remaining consistent in their homeschooling, but this personality’s quest for fun can cause problems. The day-to-day, rather boring realities of homeschooling conflict with the Popular Sanguine’s life-should-be-a-party style. The Popular Sanguine personality bolts out of the gate for back to school and is on fire. They tell themselves that this is the year they’re going to be consistent because they are so excited about their new planner, their new curriculum, and routines. But the fun and excitement of the beginning of the school year quickly fades without proper attention. This personality will begin to drop the routines and behaviors and activities they were so excited about in the beginning. So how can we as popular Sanguines become consistent when our desire is to have fun?
The solution to inconsistency for the popular sanguine personality lies in planning for a variety of fun activities throughout the school year. One school year our co-op did only field trips for our co-op day. This sounded like a marvelous idea at the beginning of our homeschooling year. After all, what could be more fun than a field trip? As the year wore on, though, the field trips actually became tiring. The Popular Sanguine craves variety. This is why the popular sanguine becomes so energized and excited about the new school year. She has chosen new curriculum, new activities, and new routines. Don’t plan the same activities, even if they are fun activities. We have fun Fridays in our homeschool. If I am not careful, I can plan to do the same thing every Friday. That is because I haven’t actually planned out my activities. So rather than having a game day, or going on a field trip, or watching movies every single Friday, I need to schedule a variety of homeschooling activities. Put something on the calendar, every week if possible, that you look forward to. Popular Sanguines get depressed if there isn’t something fun to look forward to soon.
To keep things exciting, you could even create a jar of fun ideas for your homeschool and choose one randomly. I created one for my family and you can steal it when you subscribe. Add your own ideas, too! Click the image below to download your copy.
Alternatively, you could ask your children to take turns planning fun days. Just do something to keep the homeschooling process exciting.
Homeschool Consistency for Powerful Choleric Personalities
The second personality type I want to discuss in terms of being a consistent homeschooler is the Powerful Choleric personality. This is my secondary personality, so I need these tips as well as those for the Popular Sanguine. The Powerful Choleric more than anything wants control. If this is you, you become perturbed and impatient if you don’t feel like you have control over your children and your homeschooling.
One of the best solutions for remaining consistent as a homeschooling mom who needs to have some control is to get regular feedback on what you’re accomplishing. Powerful Cholerics are ambitious people who strive to be successful. If you don’t feel that you are achieving anything with your efforts, you’re going to become inconsistent.I did an interview with Deborah Bell about her Ultimate Homeschool Planner and how to plan your homeschool year that you will appreciate. What I was most excited about from our discussion is the idea that I would meet with each of my children at the beginning of the week to plan their objectives and also at the end of the week to see what we accomplished. More than just what we accomplished academically, however, the Ultimate Homeschool Planner also gives Powerful Cholerics like us the opportunity to record how we saw God at work in our homeschools. This also meets our need for getting a good return on our time investment.
Another way to feel that you are more in control is to take a leadership position. That could be a leadership position in your homeschooling support group, co-op, or learning center. When Powerful Cholerics are in charge, they are more likely to be consistent. Teaching classes in my home-based co-op has been the best thing for my Powerful Choleric side. I have a schedule made up at the beginning of the year that invariably gets followed because it is a group activity. I feel not only more in control of my homeschool, but I also get to see the results.
Homeschool Consistency for Perfect Melancholy Personalities
The next personality type I want to discuss in terms of becoming a more consistent homeschooler is the Perfect Melancholy personality. This is the personality that wants things to be perfect. Melancholies are the most consistent homeschoolers naturally. These are people who like to do things in the same way and typically resist change or inconsistency. However, this personality can become discouraged and depressed when their consistency isn’t perfect. Perfect consistency doesn’t exist, especially when you are dealing with children!
The Perfect Melancholy personality needs to adopt a new definition of consistency. When someone or something throws a wrench into your plans, accept the interruption as from the Lord. Relax, give yourself grace, and believe that if you are achieving your objectives and following your plan about 80% of the time, you are being consistent. Remember, too, that your children may not share your personality. This is the case for homeschoolers, regardless of their personality. We not only have to take our own personality into account, but our children’s as well. If you as a Perfect Melancholy homeschooler are consistent with your homeschooling 80% of the time, you are likely giving your children with other personality types the freedom and the variety they crave.
The other thing you can do as a Perfect Melancholy homeschooler is to communicate your needs to your family. Again, this is a recommendation that I can give to every homeschooler, regardless of personality. But for the Perfect Melancholy it is particularly important to be honest and forthright about your needs and feelings. Saying something like, “I have been feeling out of sorts and even frustrated because we haven’t been able to stay home and get through our homeschooling routine. I’ll feel so much better about things if we can stick to the plan today” can help your family be sensitive to your needs. Maybe your family should just know what you need, but they likely don’t. They need you to tell them.
Homeschool Consistency for Peaceful Phlegmatic Personalities
The final personality type is the Peaceful Phlegmatic. This personality type can also struggle with consistency because this personality wants to keep things simple and conflict free. If the homeschooling plan you have created for your family at the beginning of the homeschooling year is just unrealistic or too demanding for your particular family and lifestyle, you’re likely to want to drop it all. Of course, there are other options besides all or nothing.
The Peaceful Phlegmatic homeschooler can be consistent this homeschool year by keeping the homeschooling routine and curriculum easy. What are some ways to make homeschooling easy? Listen to the podcast episode I did on how to homeschool in less time for ideas. The Peaceful Phlegmatic homeschooler will be delighted to spend less time doing direct teaching in their homeschool, giving them more time for relaxation. Block off plenty of time in your schedule for unscheduled time. Drop out of activities you know will leave you exhausted by the end of the year. Make sure that curriculum that is confusing to you or frustrating for your kids is replaced. We have so many options available to us as homeschoolers now, there’s really no reason to continue with a curriculum that isn’t easy to understand and easy to use. If you need some recommendations for curriculum that is an alternative to what you have been using, please join our homeschooling support group– HomeschoolScopes.tv on Facebook. In that group you can ask any questions you have about curriculum and get an array of very helpful answers.
How to Achieve Homeschool Consistency Regardless of Personality
Now that I covered some basic tips for the various personality types, I have one major recommendation for you, regardless of your personality. That is to make your homeschooling a habit. If you try to fit homeschooling in around your other activities and priorities, your homeschooling won’t happen. Do what you have to do to make sure that you have time most days to complete the homeschooling tasks that you know you need to complete. We build the homeschooling habit by doing the same activities day after day, whether we feel like it or not. I am not suggesting that if you are exhausted from being up with sick children or a newborn all night that you absolutely have to do the same routine or use the same schedule. Of course, I’m not suggesting that. That is the blessing of homeschooling that we have the flexibility we need to accommodate those special circumstances. However, if you just don’t feel like doing homeschooling with your kids and you consistently put it off, you will be disappointed with your homeschool consistency this year. In fact, you may feel like a failure, your kids may complain, or your spouse may suggest it’s time to put the kids in school. This is all because you have not developed the habit of homeschooling even when you don’t feel like it.
I know habit building may sound discouraging, but understand this. The amount of willpower it requires to build the homeschooling habit is only intense at the very beginning. In a matter of weeks you will find yourself automatically going through your routines without even thinking about it. Not doing your homeschooling routine won’t even be something you consider. That is the good news about being a consistent homeschooler. Being a consistent homeschooler does not mean you are a legalist. In fact, thinking about having to do the same thing day after day after day, regardless of what else is happening in your life is likely to make you less consistent, rather than more. Know that you can definitely be Spirit-led in your day-to-day homeschooling, but I believe the Lord would have us be consistent the majority of the time. Develop a morning routine, an afternoon routine, and an evening routine. I tell you how here and in The Organized Homeschool Life.
By following these steps, you can be a consistent homeschooler this year. I am very hopeful as I look forward to this upcoming homeschool year with these tips in mind.
Want a copy of this daily to-do list to print and place in a page protector or frame to use with a dry-erase marker? Click here:
To-Do List Please!When you’re a new homeschooler or even when you’re experienced, you can become overwhelmed by everything you think you should be doing in your homeschool on a daily basis. The good news is there’s nothing wrong with you! You may have just overloaded your to-do list. To save our sanity when we’re trying to add too many things to our days, I created a simple to-do list with six tasks that we can accomplish most days.
As a Christian homeschooling family, this is foundational. I shared in the video below that we pray about what we’re thankful for, sorry for, and what we need help with. It never fails that when I’m feeling stressed, prayer will calm me down. We also pray for family and friends by selecting a few of the Christmas cards that are sent to us each year. Want to read more about establishing a family devotional time? Check out this post.
Reading is our favorite homeschooling activity. If it’s not your child’s favorite, check out these tips for reluctant readers. We enjoy reading individually, but love reading books out loud that correspond to our Mystery of History volume. One of our favorite books this year was Raiders from the Sea (a Christian fiction series about the Vikings). Reading is also a critical skill for our kids’ academic and life success, so it’s going to be high on our to-do list. I hope it is on yours, too.
I’ve written before about my angst about art, but I’ve found programs I really liked such as Atelier. But creating time (which is so important to our children’s happiness and future accomplishment) can be writing time, Lego time, robotics time, Minecraft time, or music time. Time to create and some basic materials are all you need.
Science is becoming more important to future careers than ever before. Doing experiments with a science curriculum you love (click to see a list of the best!) is a great way to give kids the opportunity to test their hypotheses, but nature walks are too. Cindy West has created an amazing curriculum for this purpose that you can use on the fly. There’s no reason not to put a little science into your day!
When the day becomes so crowded with seat work and classes and activities that there’s no time for play, there’s a problem. It’s even a problem when we don’t get time to play as homeschool moms. We all need a little margin in our day and dare I say it, a little boredom, to help us unwind and find our own fun. I think it’s really important not to dictate what the play time is used for, because then it isn’t really play. I do, however, believe in setting some screen time limits. I encourage you to pick up your free homeschool daily to-do list if you haven’t already! To-Do List Please!>If you already subscribe to Psychowith6, you’ll find the link to the Subscriber Freebies folder in your welcome email.
A friend asked how I used the approach. I explained how I am using it to improve my marriage and work with my digital task list. She mentioned that she wished there was a good paper list to be used with this approach and I was inspired! Read on for what I shared with her and what I ended up using to manage my own tasks.
Gary Keller urges his readers to determine the one thing that would make the biggest impact in their lives (usually that will be the thing that makes the biggest impact in others’ lives, too). Once we know that, we can determine the one thing that would have the biggest impact on our lives in the next five years, next year, and so on. The great way he defines the one thing is:
the one thing you can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary.
If you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life, I urge you to spend time praying and thinking about it. The book itself may help your thinking. Once you know your ultimate goal, deciding the one most important thing to do becomes easier. As a busy homeschooling mom with many interests, I loved the concept of choosing the one thing in every area of my life. I can’t possibly choose only one important area of my life to focus on! If you get stuck choosing one thing, remember that choosing doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else–it just means that you have chosen what you think is the most valuable use of your time for now. Perfectionists, take note: choose what appears to be the one thing. That’s good enough!
I realized from interviewing Dr. Don McCulloch, author of Perfect Circle, that I longed for my husband to ask me what he could do to make the marriage of my dreams a reality. The problem was, like most men, he was inclined to guess what I needed and would give me that instead. Inspired by The One Thing, I asked my husband what the one thing was that would make his day easier (that I could do) and he told me. He was very open to hearing the one thing he could do to make my day easier, too. In fact, he is asking me this question on his own now. Wow!
I recommend asking your spouse what s/he needs first and then telling your spouse what you need most and make it a daily habit. Morning works best for us. Before you know it, your spouse will be asking you first!
How I Use The One Thing to Get More Done with ToDoist
Because I already have my tasks sorted by life area (colored categories) in ToDoist, it’s easy for me to review these and choose my one thing each day. I have tasks dated (something I accomplish during my weekly review) for the week, making choosing one to make top priority quick and easy. Rather than work from the Today view, I keep my list open to Top Priority tasks until they’re complete. I take all of this one step further by scheduling time for each “one thing” in Timeful. I explain more about this in 6 Important Habits for Getting More Done.
How To Use The One Thing with a Paper To-Do List
I’m absolutely crazy about digital task solutions like ToDoist, but I’m also crazy about pretty paper lists–the more colorful, the better. When my friend mentioned a paper list, I had to create a weekly form that would work for 1-Thing Productivity. Each life area has a color and a space for one monthly and weekly thing that will make everything else in that life area easier. What do I mean by life areas? The best way to explain is with examples. My life areas are church/faith, marriage, kids, homeschooling, blog, business, relationships, organization, personal, and scrapbooking.
The beauty of this list is the linear connection between your monthly and weekly 1-things and your daily 1-things. Every day, you list a new 1-thing per life area and check it or cross it off as you complete it.
A few notes. Sometimes your 1 thing won’t correspond with your weekly and monthly 1 thing. That’s ok. The form exists to keep your longer-term things top of mind. You may also have days when you don’t need to do anything in a particular life area. That’s ok, too. The form serves as a reminder of all the important aspects of your life and where you’re devoting the most time. If I don’t complete an area’s “one thing,” I rewrite it for the next day IF it’s still the one most important thing I can do.
Finally, you may have other must-do’s for a particular life area. You can approach this in a few different ways. First, list the rest of your must-do-today’s on the back of the form under today’s date. You could work on them as you complete the various 1 things. Second, you could keep these other must-do’s on a separate list that you only tackle once all of your 1 things are done. Lastly, you could schedule your “one things” and everything else you want to accomplish today on your calendar or datebook or using an app like Timeful. I use the latter approach.
Whatever method you choose, the 1 Thing approach to getting more done is really powerful. What 1 thing could you do right now that would make the rest of your day easier? Let me know how this works for you.
If you’ve been overwhelmed by winter, you probably can’t wait for spring. Personally, I’m desperate for it! No matter how excited we are about spring, if we don’t plan for it, we’ll find ourselves disappointed that we didn’t do many of our favorite things. We can change that with just an hour of our time this week. (Note that we will plan for Easter later this month.)
#1 Research ideas
Google, Pinterest, and your homeschool support group are great places to look for spring activity ideas. Discuss your must-do activities with your family. Is it time to plant a garden? Take a long-distance field trip? Make mud pies?
You can create your own printed list using this subscriber freebie (the link to all freebies is sent in subscribers’ first email). Keep your list short so you can check them all off and so kids can help make your list. Use a laminating machine and you can reuse your list every year.
#3 Add ideas to the calendar
Cute bucket lists do us no good if we don’t make time in our schedules for these activities. That’s especially true for events that are more fun with friends. Sign up for support group field trips or plan a day out with other families. You might want to have a rain-out date ready. Add them to your calendar or to-do list and treat them like any other important date.
#4 Gather supplies
If you’re finally going to plant a garden, fly kites, or go for a walk in the rain, you may need to gather the materials to make it happen. Today’s the day to shop or to add needed items to your list. Let the kids think of what you need and even make your shopping list. Have a preschooler? Make a picture shopping list using sales flyers or the internet.
Are you like me and often find that spring is over before you’ve had a chance to do these things?
Here’s what’s hot in homeschooling this week–at least according to me. And since it’s my blog I get the only vote. Love that!
But if you have something to add, I’d love to check it out. Share in the comments or contact me for inclusion in next week’s issue. Click on the orange links to read the articles and have a great homeschooling week!
I can’t believe I have a child who will be applying for college next year! You always hear that the time flies, but it really does. Belinda at The Blessed Heritage has some great ideas for what we can be doing well before the college admission process.
Speaking of college, this young man is an inspiration! It really is possible to complete a college degree in less than four years for not as much money. I tried to convince my oldest to go this route, but I think I overdid it with the homeschooling and he’ll be a student for life.
You know those reward punch cards you used to get at restaurants (you know, before the iPhone)? Joyce and Jeannine at Waddlee-ah-chaa have the great idea to use them as chore rewards. And they’re offering a free printable! (Many of you are clicking over right now; just make sure you come back!)
Blogging is very popular among homeschoolers whether as a business, a writing platform, or a way to share homeschool adventures with family and friends. Jennifer Janes shares how to keep your family involved in what seems like a solitary pursuit.
Chris of Campfires & Cleats made me smile by writing about making gingerbread houses in February. Why hadn’t I thought of that? We’re not bound by school schedules; we shouldn’t be bound by holiday craft schedules either. I also appreciated her link on finger knitting. I think this may be the only kind of knitting I’m suited for.
Do you love Pinterest like I do? I hope you’ll follow me if you haven’t already and I’ll return the favor. Following in His Footsteps shares her ideas for using Pinterest as her only curriculum. I have no doubt that with time, that will become even easier to do.