One of the challenges parents have when homeschooling their kids is where to conduct “school” and keeping home separate so their kids don’t feel like they are always in school.
It’s a fact – getting involved in Christian homeschooling can be a daunting task that leaves you with lots of questions, and the very last thing you need to be worrying about is where your kids will be having “class”.
A good mantra is to keep it simple. Don’t jump into a large-scale home remodeling project. All you need to do is have a dedicated homeschooling space.
Think about this: Where do your kids tend to gravitate? Is it the kitchen island? A desk in their room? At the table? Ask yourself if these are places where they can be productive. If the answer is yes, then you’ve found your space. The goal is for your student to have success in their schooling. If the kitchen island facilitates this, then it’s a win-win: it’s a place where they are familiar and a place where they are productive.
There are many homeschooling resources that can help you with basic organization around that space. For now, here are four ways to separate “home” and “school” as you homeschool.
- Schedule Lesson/Instruction Time and Office Time (for Planning)
Schedule their lesson time for each day. This will be part of your “office” time to ensure that everything is planned within the time parameters you have set for instruction. Setting a specific time for lessons is actually more important than using the same location for your student’s studies. Consistent lesson/instruction time gives them a framework. If instruction time is always 10am-12am for Math and Science, then the separation begins. They know that those hours aren’t for video games or playing outside, but for school.
If your days aren’t organized into a schedule, your kids will feel it. But remember that schedules do not need to be rigid. The nice part about being in charge of your schedule (rather than working with someone else’s) is that you can plan your days with the particular needs of your students in mind.
- Honor the Start and End of the School Day
Christian families who homeschool will often start their school day with prayer and/or a time of family devotions. Consider doing this before your school day begins, or choose some other consistent way to start and end your day. This gives your kids structure and allows their minds to focus. You could use a bell, or begin each day with a humorous episode from a Bible story series. After school is over, put away lesson materials so they’re not in the area where your kids have been studying. Select a cabinet or closet specified for all of your homeschooling materials and supplies. Make this storage space off limits after hours so that your kids see the separation between home and school.
- Plan Meals and Menus
For optimal child development, kids need healthy, nutritional nourishment. Make menus and plan each meal as if you were posting your menu to a group site. This helps your student feel like your school is “real” because you have an actual menu. Plus, it helps them know what to expect each day. Involve them in the planning and shopping as well. This will encourage them to select foods they like, but it also gives you an opportunity to teach them nutritional basics for a healthy life.
- Try Off-Site Activities (Parks, Museums, etc.)
Having your home as a dual location for your students may seem like a challenge, but there are many advantages to it. Because you are the scheduler of instruction time, you can plan time outside of the home for activities and/or field trips. Some of the most memorable learning happens when kids are given the opportunity to watch and participate.
Schedule a day to visit the zoo, but not just for walking it. Create a list of animals to discover. Hand out paper to your kids with a pencil and encourage them to make observations and look for specific types of animals. Or, go to a bakery and watch as the baker mixes ingredients. Talk to your kids about how the mixing of ingredients is actually chemistry in action. Regardless of what type of off-site activity you choose, doing these activities consistently and often will keep your kids from feeling stuck at home.
As you work through homeschooling and Christian parenting, keep in mind that every homeschool scenario is different. Just because your space doesn’t look like someone else’s doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Check out these resources for encouragement about the balancing act you’ll be performing every day. Because we so rarely get it right the first time, take courage in knowing that there are so many other homeschool families willing to help and provide ideas. Enjoy the process, engage your kids, and have fun!