Ways to Make Homeschool Easier, Part 2

It’s 1:22 P.M. on the first day back to homeschool. I’m sitting here sipping a cup of tea while the baby plays at my feet. All the kids, including the preschooler (after being repeatedly ushered back into her room), are reading in their beds for quiet time.

No, I’m not dreaming. And I can’t entirely credit the liver I ate for dinner last night for my energy level (although I’m sure it helped!).

We finished school ahead of schedule and everything went so well.

I don’t know why I was feeling stressed about it. I even had time to take a bike ride and write a guest blog post early this morning. Somebody needs to bring me a cupcake!

There are 3 major things I think have really paid off today: brainstorming ways to keep the preschooler busy, scheduling and planning, and encouraging more independence from the children.

Ruby loved her “schoolwork” and that kept her busy for a good hour. Then I had her help me make lunch, and generally kept her nearby almost constantly. It worked. As soon as I noticed a sharp decline in her behavior (12:45), I put her in bed for a nap. She hasn’t fallen asleep yet, but at least things are peaceful.A few other things I’m doing to make homeschool easier this year:

** I printed off a daily and weekly schedule for the kids (oldest creates his own schedule) so they would know exactly what to do, when. It includes their schoolwork, chores and break times, as well as the general household routine. It seemed to eliminate dallying and prevented them from wandering off inbetween subjects, requiring me to round them up.

** I had Julien and Ilana read their writing lesson on their own, instead of my reading those aloud as we have done in the past. I also had them pre-read their history. I still read this aloud because I love revisiting history and learning with them, but this way they were better prepared to answer questions and write summary sentences, which saved time.

** I created a schedule and will be strict with myself about limiting outings to twice a week – Tuesday (grocery shopping) and Friday (library, errands).

** Keep my computer off until school is done, except for early mornings before kids get up. I’ve found this habit to be remarkably important to the success of the school day. I also keep my phone plugged in, away from the school area. The children aren’t allowed to use computers until after school either. (The exception being Caleb, who uses Google Drive for writing assignments and Teaching Textbooks CD-ROM for Algebra 2.)

** Focus on core subjects. For me, those are math, history, writing and language. Science is weekly (except for my 10th grader who does Biology every day) and art will be a class taken at the Mable House.

** I decided at the last minute to switch the 5th and 7th graders to a math curriculum called Life of Fred. I’ve heard great things about LoF, but it was this quote from their website that nailed it:

“One of the most important skills we want our homeschooled kids to acquire is to learn how to learn by reading.  In kindergarten, 99% of what kids learn is from the teacher’s mouth.  As they progress up through high school and college, increasingly they learn more and more by reading.

After they graduate from the university, for the next 40 years almost all of the technical things they will learn will be by reading—and not by hearing someone lecture.  We want to prepare them for college and adulthood.

One of the most valuable skills that Life of Fred offers is the ability to learn by reading.  Assuming your child is of normal academic ability, any “help” that you might offer would short circuit that learning how to learn by reading.

Kids are human . . . and hence, they seek the most labor saving approach to life.  And the name of that is . . . Mom.  And moms instinctively respond to their child’s call for help.  But in this case, I believe that it is not in the best interest of the child.  You are hereby relieved of all teaching of mathematics.

If your kids insist on help, you can blame it on me, “Dr. Schmidt said that I’m not allowed to help you.”

If they claim that they are really stuck, they can take responsibility for their own learning and they can email me with their question.  (How many other authors make this offer?) 

Moms who email me on behalf of their children are relieving their children of their responsibility for their own education.  We want our children to own their own education as much as possible. “

Stanley Schmidt, PhD, creator of Life of Fred

Umm…. can I get a what what? Where has this BEEN all my life?! I listed all the Saxon Math books we had on eBay, ordered LoF and can’t wait for it to arrive. I’m also very impressed with how LoF makes math fit into real life instead of “drill and kill”. If they need more drill, I have Math Mammoth on my computer and can print out pages. Any other Life of Fred lovers out there?

Creating schedules and encouraging the children to be more independent really worked to make today successful and much easier on me.

Was today your first day back to homeschool? How did things go? What are you doing differently, if anything, this year?


About Carrie

Happy wife, homeschooling mom of many, autodidact, best-selling Amazon author, blogger, head chef and barefoot walker. Residing just outside Atlanta, usually found reading a book while sipping a hot beverage.


  1. Lila Huggins says:

    Awesome Carrie!!

    Miss Lila

  2. Hey!! Please please let me know which classes you sign up for at the mable house!!! Haylei is my artsy fartsy girl and would LOVE to do any of these, but I think it would be fun to do it with a friend.

  3. Will do Candi!