3 Principles from the Business World that Improve My Homeschool

a cup of tea sits in a saucer with blueberries

I never imagined that I’d read and enjoy business and productivity books. I imagined that they’d be all about how to squeeze maximum efficiency out of every last second of the day. To me, that sounds like slow death by strangulation. No thanks.

But after various friends (including homeschool moms) repeatedly recommended a couple of titles, I decided to give them a try. Here are three lessons I’ve learned that actually adapt quite well to the homeschool dynamic.

1. Balance Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

We’ve all heard about the importance of balance. My husband’s company is always promoting the importance of work/life balance. We want our children to have a balanced diet. But that word conjures up an image that is actually unhelpful.

The word balance suggests two sides of a scale, each with an equal amount of weight. So does that mean that a “healthy work/life balance” includes as much free time as it does work hours? Does a balanced diet mean that you need to each equal volumes of all kinds of foods?

Balance simply means allotting quantities in proportion to their need. When life is out of balance, it means that you are allotting more time than needed to some things and less time than needed to others.

Age, seasons of life, life circumstances, and goals play a huge role in determining what is needed. And, therefore, the amount of time and energy devoted to different activities can adapt over time while still remaining balanced.

Lesson: Look for ways to assign homeschool time and budget in proportion to the need rather than equally across the board.

2. Changing a Habit Gets Worse Before It Gets Better

When you decide a change is needed and implement a new system or routine, there is an initial enthusiasm. Starting a new school year or even a new curriculum can be like this. We are optimistic about the benefits but not fully aware of the demands.

3 Principles from the Business World that Improve My HomeschoolAfter a while, we begin to feel the weight of the effort it takes to continue the habit, and the glow of the assumed benefits dims. But when you stick it out through this phase, the new habits or systems become automatic. With the power of a habit, the pain of action shrinks, and the benefits once again outweigh the output of energy. Pushing through the low phase—maintaining a consistent habit even through those times of waning enthusiasm—can reap long term benefits.

Lesson: Expect difficulty and low motivation as you forge homeschool habits. Keep going!

3. Management is Not an Action, But a Mindset

I always imagined management (of people in a business or kids in a homeschool) involving a checklist on a clipboard. Certainly a manager is someone who walks around reminding people of what they’re supposed to be doing and telling them how to do it, right?

But that would be a poor management strategy. At that rate, you’re doing about 80% of the work yourself.

Instead, a manager is one who enlists the cooperation of the people she manages by involving them in the decision-making process. Instead of handing out directions, she shares her enthusiasm for the big-picture goal and invites them to participate in breaking it down into smaller steps.

People (employees or children) who are invested in a bigger goal, who understand the reasons and benefits, are more likely to be self-managing. This is also true if they are given the opportunity to personalize the way in which they approach a task to align with their own strengths and interests. People of all ages are more motivated by ownership than by threat of consequences.

Lesson:  Enlist the cooperation of your kids in your homeschol for a smoother experience and better learning outcomes, too.

Perhaps it is because I eat, sleep, and breathe homeschooling, but I am always surprised at the places where I find ideas that cross-apply to homeschooling. And now I can add business and productivity books to that list!

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About the Author

Lynna Sutherland • Homeschooling without Training WheelsLynna is a former homeschooler, then classroom teacher, now homeschool mom of eight crazy (and lovable) hooligans from middle school down to bouncing baby.

She calls her blog Homeschooling without Training Wheels because she loves to encourage families to embrace the freedom and flexibility that come with homeschooling and let go of the things that are holding them back! You can read more in her free eBook 5 Myths that are Killing Your Multi-Age Homeschool