When it comes to school work, finding the rhythm that works with your children is a key component to success. Whether your focus is homeschooling or homework, a predictable routine gives children a sense of assurance and helps them to develop self-discipline and the ability to structure their own lives. The New Year offers a perfect time to pause and take a look at what’s working — and what isn’t – in terms of your children’s rhythms.

Take a look at the next two quarters of the school year. Which workbooks, projects, trips, and etc are involved? Enlist the help of your child’s teacher to figure this out, if applicable. Larger projects can be broken down into smaller parts to make them manageable. Start with overall goals and then break these down into quarters, months, weeks, and the bite-sized chunks of a daily homeschool or homework plan.

Have a look at your weekly schedule. Figure in other time demands and desires: chores, extra-curricular activities, social time with friends. If your child has soccer practice Wednesday afternoons,  intend to finish the Wednesday homework assignments on Tuesday. Spread out the work so that there is a reasonable amount each day.
Consider your children’s rhythms and tackle the most demanding subjects when your children are freshest. Children often have a difficult time with homework later in the evening, when they’re tired. For homeschoolers, plan on one-on-one time when other siblings are doing individual work, or when the baby is taking a nap.

Set a beginning and ending time for your homework and homeschool work, including breaks. Stay consistent with this rhythm.

You might have to try a few different schedules to find the one that works best. Start the New Year by giving each schedule at least a week, and then take what worked (and what didn’t) into planning your next approach. Keep in mind as well that a routine is your guide – not an inflexible dictator.

Over time, establishing a rhythm helps students be responsible for their own school work. Kids love being in charge of themselves. This feeling increases their sense of mastery and competence. Children who feel more independent and in charge of themselves have less need to rebel and be oppositional. Need we say more?