For those new to homeschooling, it can be very intimidating. Do we know enough? Can we have the patience? How do I balance everything?
You have come to the right place.
The last elementary school our son went to in Maryland implemented a FUN Friday routine. (Thank you, Tara, for all you do!)
When we decided to home school and work from home, we chose to implement this same thing. Using this incentive routine has been so beneficial in helping our son take responsibility for his own learning – and chores – throughout the week. For more on how to use incentives, check out this blog Let’s Make a Deal). Here is how it works:
1) Monday Start: On Monday have a checklist created of the school tasks assigned for the week. If you missed how to do this, check out last week’s blog Finding Balance: Telework and Homeschooling. Upfront, the student knows what is expected. This helps them plan their own week (a key executive function). It also reminds them their education is their own. You cannot be there all the time.
2) Four Day Week: No one wants to work more than they need. We spend two to three hours a day at school. With great focus, this is all we need for the entire week. The most we have ever needed was to spend four hours in one day. Whatever is not completed Thursday will roll over to Friday.
3) On Friday: Just because it is Friday does not mean our responsibilities cease. In the “real world,” we would still have family obligations (sometimes work depending on the schedule), and regular household tasks. The same is true for our son. The following must be completed PRIOR to FUN Friday commencing:
a. Chores complete: Who wants to play in a messy house? No one. All chores must be completed.
b. Thirty minutes outside: Sun is essential for healthy bodies. Imaginative play is essential for healthy minds. Time playing outside is a requirement. Thirty minutes is our minimum.
c. Read a book: If you have younger kids, a single kid’s book is fine. If you have older kids, depending on the book, at least one (sometimes two) chapters must be read.
d. Be Creative: Imaginative is play is important to development. Art and play are vital to many engineering skills, communication skills, and sometimes give insight into emotional health for a parent. Our son must be creative. Sometimes that is writing a comic book, building Lego, painting, or playing in clay. The options are limitless!
4) FUN Friday is here: This part of the day consists of whatever the child wants (within reason). Our son does not get a lot of screen time (see how we use it in this blog Is Screen Time Your Friend or Enemy). He usually asks for a movie. But sometimes, we use this time to go to a zoo, the aquarium, or another outing. During #socialdistancing, we do games, movies with popcorn, build forts, and so much more. The day is limited only by imagination.
We discovered this small change to education, has increased focus during school, allowed us to start teaching a new language, build on social skills, and increased our family connection in a positive way.
Now that homeschool is becoming a norm, I encourage you to try FUN Friday in your home. See how it goes for a while. Remember, you earn income, paid vacations, flex work hours for your hard work and focus at work. Let’s extend that to our children who need incentives just as much.