by Karen D. Koch
I’m never as organized as I’d like to be, but in more than 12 years of homeschooling, I’ve figured out a few things that work for us. My children range in age from 5 to 17, so in our homeschool and probably yours as well, our weeks sometimes get complicated. A few years ago I implemented a “Monday Family Meeting.” This helps us look ahead to what scheduling overlaps we may have, what deadlines are looming, etc. It seems to keep us on track, and gives us a visual of what’s on the horizon.
I have a huge wall calendar that is our clearinghouse for nearly everything, but each Monday I also write the highlights of the week on a large white board for everyone to see, and mark off items as we complete them. Depending on your needs, you might want to write things in order of priority instead, or as we do, by days of the week. I include activity and event times so we can figure out any overlaps or things I need to reschedule or rethink. This week we have a golf team banquet Wednesday night. I took a look at my two golfers and realized I might want to add haircuts for them before Wednesday.
If we see anything that needs changed, I can be courteous to call early in the week to reschedule lessons or activities or arrange for rides without causing last-minute panic. I can also make a mental note to get supplies needed for upcoming experiments, snacks I’m supposed to provide at co op or forms to turn in.
Life and homeschool can get crazy. Youth events, mission trip deadlines, vet appointments, dentist. You know how it goes. And as homeschool Mom and Head Sanity Officer, you also can look at your week and decide, “We can’t possibly manage activities seven nights in a row, so something has to go.” This is part of successful life and school planning. Some seasons in life are crazy (my first son’s senior year is turning out to be like this), but other times we can and need to take a respite here and there.
A benefit of having a Monday meeting is that sometimes my kids remember things I’d forgotten or didn’t know about.
“Tristan wanted to know if we could spend the night Friday, Mom,” one kid might say, or we may realize we don’t have an extra car for events at the same time, so I need to find a separate ride for one of the kids.
The Monday meeting can be used to help the kids plan their time as well. “Co-op is on Friday, so I probably shouldn’t wait until Friday morning to do my homework,” for example. Or “We have a golf tournament Thursday, so I should probably wash my uniform before then. . .”
I save a spot on the right side of the white board for items that are needed soon but not necessarily “urgent,” such as SAT coming up, or scholarship deadline, or “get birthday present for so-and-so,” or visit Grandpa. I like to cross things off my list, so this helps us see what’s still pending.
Even with small kids and simpler schedules, this is a fun way to include the kids in the Big Picture and teach them some time-planning skills as well.
Karen D. Koch is a 16-year homeschool veteran, but still wonders some mornings how that time has gone so quickly. She originally wrote this article three years ago. Her kids now range from 8 to 20, with two grown and flown from homeschool. She is pleased to note a recent moment of parenting success: Son #2 came home from college for spring break recently. He had taken a photo of his college dorm room white board with a list of his pending projects and assignments to use as reference while he was home.