The Productive Homeschooler: Put Those Kids to Work

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I know bloggers are supposed to have some sort of badge that makes them an “expert” about the things that they write about. Write what you know, and the people will come…. or something like that.

This next post is all about something I am just now figuring out. Hopefully, all y’all have some wonderful tips and advice to leave me in the comments. Until my kids are actually grown and functioning, I can’t tell you that the following will work- but I think it will!

That being said- I’ve come to realize something lately…..

All of this work can not be JUST on my shoulders. The kids need to take some responsibility too.

And I don’t just mean they need to take responsibility for their messes…. I mean they need to take responsibility for their education too. For their time. For all of it.

After all, I’m not just Homeschooling them to get them through the third grade. I’m Homeschooling them to get them ready for Life.

All the joys, and pains. All the freedom, and responsibilities. They need to be ready to take the reins- and I really don’t have that much time to train them up.

The good news is, training my kids to be hard working, responsible, attentive, diligent little human beings is not a chore without it’s perks. Training my kids up is also training them to be helpers. They can pull their weight, and lessen my burden.

So far, what we’re doing is working.

Expecting Diligence- the productive homeschooler

Time Management and Diligence with Lessons

Like I told you a couple days ago, timers have become our best friends. We have these personal timers, and then a couple weeks ago, we bought this large stoplight timer off of a friend (and I love it).

Lessons in this house are expected to be done diligently. If we are doing math class, I want you to focus to the best of your ability. I want the kids to learn that they need to pay attention to the task at hand, and that they need to not ever sit and stare at the paper in front of them saying something along the lines of “I don’t knooooowwwwww!”  They are to work for the full (age appropriate) amount of time, using the timer to help guide them. They keep working the entire time it is ticking down. If something is “too hard” the question is skipped until I can go over it with them.

(for the record, we use this for things like the Latin workbook, Math worksheets, coloring, anything that should be done independently. I don’t put a timer on for things like when I am actually teaching the concept or we’re doing an experiment. I explain concepts and help them at that time. When the timer is on and they are working alone, I am typically spending time with one of the other children.  I’m not mean, I promise.)

We turn on the timer, and they know there is a “done point” coming, so nothing will last forever. They also know that if they waste that time, then they are going to be missing out on other fun things. If school is done, and done diligently, at the end of the day we get to play a game or do something else fun and awesome. Even if they didn’t complete the assignment, as long as they were diligent about their work, we get to have some fun. However, if time is wasted and lessons are not complete, then we have to pick up the same thing tomorrow, and sometimes that means missing out on the field trip because we have more work to do.

So far, the timer and natural consequences are working out wonderfully.

Kids and Chores

Diligence with Chores

Chores- gosh, they are the best. This is very new to my family. Bug has had dedicated chores for a couple weeks now, and the difference it has made in my home is amazing. He is almost 8, and is responsible for these things:

Folding and putting away all the laundry (a load or two a day), sweeping and moping the guest/boys bathroom floor, wiping down the bathroom counter and sink, policing the living room/dining room floors, scooping the cat litter.

Before he was assigned the chores, I took the time to show him how the chore was to be done, step by step, and for the first week, I cleaned along side him to make sure he had the routine down. I still need to check in on him to make sure he’s remembering what to do, but he does a fantastic job.

Not everyone will agree with this, but I pay 50 cents a day for his chores to be finished. He loves “getting paid” and works hard to make sure he does the job right.

Mr. Man has many less chores then Bug, but he also doesn’t get any allowance for them (he’s too young and doesn’t need money!). He wipes down the cupboard doors, and helps pick up the toys and pillows in the living room. He also helps me put away the groceries.

Little Miss is expected to clean up the messes she makes, but that’s about it. She’s a fantastic spill wiper-upper, and is great at putting things away in their boxes and totes.

Each evening, we use the stoplight timer to help everyone do a quick pick up for 20 minutes. Daddy helps do the dinner dishes, I work on my chore list from Motivated Moms, and the kids either finish their chores from earlier in the day, or straighten up the main rooms. It’s amazing what 20 minutes will do when the whole family is working.

It does also help to have the right tools for the job. We have small washcloths, a light weight swiffer vacuum, and a swiffer wet jet that allows ALL of the kids to clean the floors when they need to. I *highly* recommend the swiffer vacuum if you have hard floors. Best cleaning gadget for kids EVER.

Diligence with Cooking

One thing that Oak Meadow brought to our home this year was a children’s cookbook. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. At this point, Bug can make anything in the Microwave and Toaster oven. He knows how to make quesadillas, and grilled cheese, oatmeal, toaster waffles, and a handful of other things. Mr. Man also knows how to make oatmeal in the microwave and cold sandwiches.

These days, they make their own lunches, and I can work on the dishes (or take a break!). They can make their own breakfasts. I don’t make them cook for themselves every day, but it’s nice that they can.

I don’t remember how old I was when my mom first started having me not only cook dinner, but plan the meal and make a shopping list for it. Maybe 10 or so? Growing up, my sisters and I each had a night to cook, and it helped me get ready for life on my own. I still use many of the same recipes with my own kids. Hopefully, in a few years, the boys can also start cooking for the family!

Homeschooling is MUCH easier when everyone pitches in

The kids are home with me all day, so I feel that it is very reasonable to expect them to help out around the house and be diligent with their schooling. I explained to them that my “job” is to be the very best teacher to them that I can, so that means their “job” is to work hard and learn a lot. Daddy’s job is to go to work. The other jobs around the house, like cooking and cleaning, really have to be shared for our home to remain and comfortable and happy place to live.

Homeschooling is a time consuming job…. without help I could never get everything done and stay sane! Kids are the perfect helpers, thank goodness.

How are you teaching your children to be diligent? What is working in your home?

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  1. Your kids are too young for this now, but when my kids got a little older, we looked up various colleges that they thought they’d be interested in and looked at the requirements for homeschoolers. It detailed how many hours of various courses they were supposed to have on their high school transcript. Then we worked backwards. We could see what high school had to look like if they wanted to go to a certain college, so then what did middle school need to look like? They’ve been developing a long view of things. What do they think they might be interested in doing after college? Start experimenting now. What classes do they want to take that they won’t have time to take in high school? Take them earlier. It’s been a great motivator and helped my girls take responsibility for their own education. I just wish my kids were as good at doing chores are yours are!

    1. Taking the long view is so helpful. I think we all enjoy knowing what the end game is- what we need to do in order to get the kids where they want to be. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I am going to have to get one of those timers! I’ve been looking for one and almost bought a ginormous sand timer, but I think this will be better! I used to hire teenagers to clean my house once a week but then realized my sons’ wives would hate me down the road! So now they help out with the daily chores and you know, they actually enjoy it or at least feel like they are contributing to our family. It was funny last week we went to the park and did a bunch of fun things but when we asked the best part about their day, it was “cleaning the bathroom”! I couldn’t believe it, but it really helps them feel important. Great post!

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