One of the lessons I learned early on as a homeschool parent is how easy it is to be distracted and interrupted when we learn in our homes.
- The phone rings.
- I need to put dinner in the crockpot.
- Something spills.
- The dog needs to go out.
- I walk into the bathroom and see it needs a quick wipe down.
- My kids want five more minutes with their favorite show. (It’s never just five minutes.) Or they just want to finish a game “real quick...It will only take a second." (It never takes a second.)
Our homes are full of distractions, and before we know it, if we’re not intentional with our time, the hours tick away and our homeschool lessons remain undone. Every time we find ourselves in this situation, short of an emergency happening, it is because we have said yes to multitasking, yes to being interrupted, yes to being distracted.
How do homeschoolers minimize interruptions? Instead of saying yes, we say no, nope, no way! Easier said than done, right? Here are a few ways I’ve found to keep my homeschool hours on track.
1. Say Goodbye to Multitasking
Did you know it takes an average of 25 minutes to regain your focus when you’re interrupted? Wow! It’s no wonder it can be hard to get anything done.
Minimizing distractions is a must. One way we can do this is to stop multitasking.
Multitasking used to be all the rage. Turns out, multitasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, when we multitask we get fewer things done and are more likely to do them poorly.
This is why it’s important to have time set aside in your day to focus solely on homeschooling. This is not time to check email, answer the phone, or fold laundry. It’s homeschooling time. You’ll be plenty busy. The other things can wait.
2. Limit Background Noise
My husband and son sau they learn best with background noise. While this may be true, the type of noise matters. A study out of Standford found
“People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.”
Quiet music is one thing. Watching YouTube videos or shuffling through a music playlist is another thing. If you or your homeschooler need background noise, make sure it’s just that, in the background and not, in fact, a distraction.
3. Invest in Your Environment
While you don't have to have a perfectly organized or sparkly clean house to homeschool, I do think better learning can happen with a clean work surface and supplies in the right places. If you have to clean up first or hunt for pencils before you can get learning, time is constantly wasted.
Have a designated shelf or area for books and projects and take a few minutes at the end of each homeschool day to put things back where they belong.
4. Schedule Buffer Time
One of the things I love most about homeschooling is we don’t have to do every subject every day. My children don’t have to jump quickly through lessons or stop doing something they are engaged with. Sure, sometimes we need to move on to a new lesson, but we create our schedule and therefore can allow for plenty of time to learn and practice.
Always allow for more time to do a project or lesson than you think you’ll need. This way, if a child gets really invested or something is finally clicking, you don’t have to stop them. If you end up having more time than you need, great! That’s bonus time. Play games, go outside, or take a break.
5. Take Breaks
Breaks are important for our brains and our bodies. If we want to truly recharge, how we take a break matters. Physical activity, eating a healthy snack, taking a nap, reading for pleasure, enjoying quiet time, daydreaming, or meditation all renew our energy.
Homeschooling offers are children so many wonderful ways to learn. It also takes some planning and organization. Take the time to minimize interruptions and distractions. The benefits for your children and homeschool day will far outweigh anything you’ve said no to.
About the Author
Kelly left teaching middle and high school English to homeschool her children and reclaim how she and her family spent their time. Followers of interest-led learning, her family's days rarely look the same, but they tend to include a lot of books, art supplies, and time outside.
Kelly facilitates local writing circles for women and children and blogs about nurturing the love of learning on her blog, Curiosity Encouraged. She loves to journal, read memoirs, hike, and travel. She seeks quiet mornings and good coffee daily.