Do you spend your waking hours multitasking, only to end the day exhausted, wondering what you accomplished? Discouraging, right?
Today’s podcast guest of honor, Courtney Moyer, wrote to me asking, “Julie, how do I multitask while teaching multiple children at multiple levels with multitudes of housework?”
I’ve been there! I remember the shoes scattered down the hallways, math books lost under the couch, and the crying baby who needed me to stop everything to breastfeed. Homeschooling can feel like it’s at the bottom of the list when your LIFE is so demanding!
I’d like to help you get out of this rut. Ready? First suggestion: Stop Multitasking!
Ha! Let’s talk about how to end the madness and find peace and progress in the middle of the muddle.
First, let’s explore my favorite maxim: “Less is more.” How will this shift in how you live and think change your life?
Listen to today’s episode to learn:
How multitasking affects your brain in negative ways
Why you need to shift to a “less is more” mentality
Ways to immerse yourself into your homeschool to boost productivity
How to personalize the learning adventure for your children AND for yourself
Make sure you listen to the recap at the end to hear how Courtney incorporated my advice. She did such an incredible job! Now Courtney approaches learning with a fresh, positive perspective and bubbly enthusiasm! I want that for you, too. I hope this episode leaves you feeling energized and empowered.
What about multitasking?
Let’s talk about multitasking and the brain.
For starters, multitasking is not handling multiple tasks simultaneously, as most of us believe; multitasking is the act of shifting between tasks, and it is the switching quickly between tasks that is exhausting. It uses up oxygenated glucose in the brain, burning the same fuel that’s needed to focus on a task. As a result, people who multitask tend to eat more and drink more caffeine, but what they really need is a break.
When people are interrupted, it typically takes them 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to their original task.
We’re deferring our gratification when we multitask because we never have that satisfying feeling of a completed task.
When it comes to long term projects, you should only spend 25 minutes to 2 hours of focused attention at a time (as adults). Spending less than 25 minutes on a challenging or long term task doesn’t give us a sense of accomplishment—we always feel behind.
What we can learn take away this study, as homeschoolers, is that we can’t hover over our homeschools; we need to sink down into them.
Poetry Teatime is an example of everyone being “on task” without feeling any guilt. It’s a moment of respite where we can drop down into the experience, and that is what creates momentum in homeschool: having satisfying depth, noticing that depth, and giving ourselves credit for that moment before moving on.
Most of us believe we need to do seven subjects a day, on weekdays, and during certain hours, based on the school model we were raised with. But what would it look like if our days were segmented differently as home educators? What would happen if we thought about the subjects not as something to get through, but as accomplishments based on exposure to information?
Skill development is important, but how do we quantify skill development? Is it based on a quantity of pages? An amount of time? Or are we looking at the skill as a part of development towards a bigger picture end goal?
Sometimes we’re so caught up in the daily details that we forget the overarching goal and that we have an entire school year.
Rotate children, rotate subjects, and remember to stick with short & strong bursts of energy, like 15-minute bursts.
You can start your day with a morning routine or some group activity together so that all kids are included.
Instead of a daily amount of time with all of your kids where you’re really focused, set aside dedicated time to focus on just one child every day, and it doesn’t have to be evenly distributed. You can rotate based on need, not on a system.
You’re allowed to have “homeschool light” on weeks where one child needs more attention.
Break free of the Monday-Friday schedule, break free of any rigid timelines, and allow yourself to have flexibility and freedom. Remember to “drop down” into the experience of learning.
We need to allow space for the learning to sink in. Give your child time to do the work, and to come out of it and be aware and proud of that experience.
The practice IS teaching, so trust the practice. If they understand the principle but are making mistakes, the practice is teaching them. If you allow some distance between their first effort and when they correct it, their brains unconsciously teach them what they need to know.
Focus on growth and strength, rather than fear of doing something wrong.
Take a deep dive with one child at a time to create momentum and powerful shifts in learning and energy. Taking a deep dive for an hour teaches so much more than the fragmented, multitasking approach over a week (and going somewhere and adding a special treat always helps). This is your anchor time.
Remember that the one-on-one time can be a chance to revisit certain education areas in a positive and empowering way.
Record on your calendar when the anchor times happen, with the name of the child. You can prove to yourself that you’re giving this sacred time to your children.
Organizing the day into chunks of dedicated time will eliminate some of the overwhelm. Focus on segmenting the day into these three containers: Activities, Housekeeping, and Education.
Minimize your energy, maximize your opportunities. For example, set aside a bin for items that need to be put away, then toss things in there and forget about them until their dedicated time.
There is no formula. All there is is the collective wisdom and insight from our community of homeschoolers.
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Perhaps you saw our recent webinar on the natural stages of growth. If not, watch it here!
Early writers are bursting with stories about anything from the report about the dog who just ate your shoe to their recap of how they built the latest LEGO masterpiece. When you capture these ideas in writing, you show your kids their thoughts have value and are worthy of sharing with others. An author is born!
In addition to following your child around with pen and paper in hand, ready to write down their precious utterances, how else can you foster the craft of these budding writers? Story Switcheroo and Telling Tales to the rescue! In these family classes (sign up as many children as you want for one low price), we guide you, the parent, through a series of delightful writing activities centered around beloved
Our instructors show you how to “come alongside” your writer, providing the necessary support to enable him to twist those tales into new stories. Imagine the feeling a child experiences when his stories are not only written down but also shared at dinner and put in the morning basket for a regular rereading. Your kids will soon know that they are authors!
Brave Writer classes help you establish writing routines and a language-rich household where words become fodder for play and experimentation.
Here’s what our parents have to say:
My son surprised me with how well he absorbed the elements of a fairy tale and how confidently he was able to write his own fairy tale in week 4 of the class using so many of the fairy tale elements we learnt during the class. I am very impressed with the “Switcheroo” process – trust the process. Thanks Jen for an amazing course. The activities in this course were very effective and engaging. My sons loved it and so did I. We had lots of fun and laughs. My sons and I bonded so much and I was able to connect with them. Thank you very much!! -Anna
The class is full of amazing ideas for how to promote storytelling in natural, amusing, and imaginative ways. You don’t have to think of storytelling as starting from scratch – a blank canvas. Instead, you can use stories that you already know and transform them into new and often hilarious stories of your own. -Elizabeth
After the planet Earth is destroyed by Vogons to make way for an intergalactic bypass, Arthur Dent, the last surviving human man, hitchhikes to safety along with his alien friend, Ford, aboard the Vogon ship. Soon afterwards, they are dumped into space by the Vogons, where they once again hitchhike aboard the ship of Trillian (the last human woman) and the President of the Galaxy (who also happens to have two heads), Zaphod Beeblebrox, and they become immediately swept up into the quest to find the ultimate question of the universe.
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Under the guise of absurdist humor, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy deals with themes of bureaucracy, callousness, whether life has meaning, and seeing things from someone else’s point of view.
Arthur Dent is the Every Man, meant to stand in for the audience members. But if you were in Arthur Dent’s position as one of the last surviving humans, how do you think you would react? Would you react like Arthur or in some other way?
Trillian is the only female member of the main cast. How do you think the story might change if more of the characters were women?
If you could custom build a planet as we see in the film, what would your planet be like?
If you were to write a chapter on yourself in the Hitchhiker’s Guide, what would it say?
The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.
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