Homeschooling high school is all about checking boxes and meeting goals. Making sure everything is done can drive you crazy, if you let it get out of hand. Using time management skills and tools helps, but really, I’ve found it’s about having the right mindset first and foremost, and the right tools and techniques make it possible.
So, how do we do homeschool high school and keep our sanity?
Leave room in your schedule
I have a habit of filling up my schedule. All of the things are exciting and fun, but then I have no room for anything spontaneous, or for cleaning up after ourselves, for that matter. Last year, I gave myself just enough time home to make a mess, and then leave again. Oh my goodness, I thought my head was going to explode mid-year and I didn’t feel like I could drop anything halfway through the year either. Do yourself a favor, and leave some time to do nothing in your schedule. Trust me, you’ll fill it up with all the things you forget to pencil in on your schedule (like dishes!).
Use the right tools
Organization and time management tools are an absolute necessity for keeping your sanity when homeschooling high school. I like pen and paper more than digital tools, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t use them as consistently. For both me and Kira, my teen daughter, we need something that works with us across devices so we don’t have the excuse that we lost our organization tool, or that it wasn’t conveniently located when we needed it.
Ideally, by the time you hit the high school years, you’ve had some time for trial and error to find the right tools for you. If you’re still stumbling, here’s a quick list of tools I use in our homeschool:
- Homeschool Planet – For lesson planning, grading, and making a transcript
- Google Calendar – For sharing with the family and staying on top of all appointments, classes, fencing tournaments, etc.
- Tomato Timer – When motivation is lacking, just commit 25 minutes at a time to the task. Set the timer and work until it tells you to stop.
- Google Drive – The main tool we use for completed work in our homeschool high school.
Plan ahead – 4 years if you can
I spent a LOT of time Kira’s 8th grade year coming up with a full high school plan, and I’m glad I did. Even though we don’t follow it exactly now that we are in the middle of her high school career, I have a big picture of how I want things to look, and I know what we want to achieve. If we miss something, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Basically, do the majority of planning before you get started, and then each year you should only have to find curriculum that meets your needs, or making small adjustments to the original plan, in sha Allah.
Use a mix of resources
We use a hybrid of resources. Everything from your typical textbook and chapter tests, to a public school class, to online classes. Earlier this year I also was teaching one of her classes myself. This way she gets to have a nice mix of avenues in which she learns to keep things interesting, and it builds study skills for her college years, in sha Allah. I found when she used one venue of learning, like a virtual school, she got bored of the monotony of it, and disengaged. This mix seems work well for us.
Realize what structure matters, and what doesn’t
Some families do well with flexible deadlines. Some feel they work best if they get up early to get started on their work. For our family, we’ve found that relatively strict deadlines are necessary to keep all of us on point. If Kira didn’t have her science class at the public school in the morning, I would be willing to let her try staying up at night to work on her schoolwork rather than waking up earlier in the morning. I actually personally prefer more loose scheduling and waking up earlier, but I’ve found that’s not Kira’s style at this point. And really, it’s about her making the most out of her school work, isn’t it?
It took a while, but I’ve learned I have to give myself a break! There are so many times I’ve thought I should just throw in the towel, but the many benefits of homeschooling weigh on me and we power on. Rather than feeling like a failure, I try to remember it’s all about learning, for both of us. Sometimes I need to learn a better way to address and issue. Sometimes Kira needs to learn a life lesson of her own, and there have been numerous occasions where she has had to take a step back and be reminded not to beat herself up for her mistakes.
Homeschooling is about making and meeting goals, but it’s also about shaping and forming a healthy, happy, capable adult, in sha Allah. Most of what helps me keep my sanity is remembering our priorities, and not letting myself get overwhelmed with syllabuses and checklists. They are important, and they deserve their time, but this job of kindling a love of Allah, family, and learning, is where my priorities lie. And that focus helps me keep my sanity at the end of the day.
The other fabulous bloggers with iHomeschool Network are talking about how they keep their sanity while reaching their goals, too! Join them and find out how they manage!
Thanks for sharing this today Shannen, all great ideas for high school 🙂
I use a tomato timer for my midwifery degree study – mine is called Tomighty and tucks away in the taskbar of my laptop, so I don’t even need to be connected to the internet to use it. It’s a great method! I also use Trello as a way of managing what I need to do and organising what order I want to do it in. Once I’ve made my list, I don’t have to think – just on to the next thing until the timer goes off. I wonder if Trello might be helpful for you and Kira as well? You could have three cards – one for work to be done, one for work that’s been done and one for work that’s been graded (you just drag the notes across between the cards). But your Google drive system sounds like it works well!
I actually decided to comment to let you know that I love the new design, it’s very smart 🙂
Thanks for sharing this Shannen!
We have built our startup, FetchForMe (http://fetchfor.me) keeping homeschooling parents in mind. We know that you spend a lot of time on the web finding great content for your kids. We hope to help you save a little bit more time from your schedule, which you can invest back in your kids.
If you are researching on the web on any topic, and you know it will take you an hour or so of your personal time – then ask us the question and our searchers will do an excellent job in finding the information and sending you a crisp summary of the same.
You can even ask the question by directly emailing to us at q[AT]fetchfor.me
Shannen Espelien says
Sounds so cool! I’ll have to keep you in mind when I’m in need again!