A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO NAVIGATING COVID-19…
after you have followed all the official protocols
A Homeschooler’s guide to time management.…
It is an understatement of cataclysmic proportions to say that our culture and world are going through a tsunami of change. To make matters even more confusing, the narrative of COVID-19 seems to shift like unpredictable tides on a daily basis. Therefore, in the coming weeks I wanted to offer a practical guide to navigating COVID-19…that is after you have followed all the official protocols. So, let’s begin with the strange new normal, which is part of quarantining, called education at home. You know, there is a word for this type of education, homeschooling!
Well, we’re all homeschoolers now. The good news is your chances of becoming valedictorian just increased exponentially, that is if you just are comparing your grades to your siblings. Still, it’s a weird new reality to get used to: learning through a computer screen, trying to manage a completely different schedule, and somehow figuring out all the new rules that accompany this style of education.
One of the more challenging aspects of entering into the brave new world of homeschooling, albeit a nontraditional model, is scheduling and managing the time given in each day to accomplish the assignments and other responsibilities. Quick personal word-my wife Christina and I have been homeschooling our own children for a couple of years now, and on top of that Christina is a time management trainer. I am more of a casual observer of the whole thing and find myself in trouble with the principal quite often.
Nevertheless, let me offer you a handful of thoughts on how to manage your time in this foreign new land of homeschooling.
- First, recognize that time is something created by God and is therefore a gift to mankind. In so being a gift, we should steward and maximize the sequence of moments God grants to each of us.In other words, sheltering in place, quarantine, lockdown, and all the rest are never excuses for wasting time. Let me be very clear on this point: to take a passive approach to time is akin to receiving a big gift for Christmas, and then sitting around hoping it will open itself. If we are not intentional with time, then it will literally pass us by and can never be regained.
- Create a ‘New’ Normal. For most of us, actually all of us, we’ve never been through a season like the one we are enduring. And as such it requires imagining a new way of doing education. For some this new way can be incredibly overwhelming. After all, many of us don’t learn best sitting at a table gazing into a glowing screen. Collaboration on projects is different, the way we ask for help is different, and all this ‘different’ can lead to weight we aren’t equipped to carry. Fear not for there is a manageable way forward, and the answer is NOT just dive right in and figure it out. Here are five steps to creating a new normal for your homeschool experience:
- Clearly state what the end goal of any subject, project, or assignment will be.
- Work backwards to break the goal down into manageable bite-size pieces, or doable steps, that can be measured by time.
- Organize the above stated ‘doable steps’ into three categories: A = task that must be accomplished first; B = task that is important and serves to support the ‘A’ tasks; C = tasks that are not urgent and can be accomplished within a short amount of time.
- Create a timeline or grid that organizes each subject, project, or assignment into a sequential order. For those who like sports analogies, this is your playbook, not your game plan.
- Using a time management planner, a blank sheet of paper, or a portable whiteboard to outline your day based on time needed to accomplish said goals. This is your game plan. Personally, I wouldn’t use my phone for this step. It’s just my own little conspiracy theory, but I believe we can create momentum (the law of compounding interest) better when we accomplish our daily game plan and then can turn the page in a planner, erase a board, or just fold a sheet of paper to demonstrate a sense of achievement.
- Use block scheduling to create a rhythm, and use that rhythm to tell a story. The point is to create a rhythm of basically getting stuff done! This is where block scheduling can be very helpful. I define block scheduling, in a homeschool environment, as a continual rhythm of time segments, with each segment having a stated purpose, that rotate through a student’s school day allowing that student to maximize his or her time and achieve the purposes of education. Here is the beautiful thing about all this, you have some say in what that rhythm looks like. Make sure that in your daily rhythm there is time to have meals, let the sun hit your skin, check your social media, so on and so forth. But view these tasks, that may seem less strenuous, as contributors, not intrusions, to the rhythm you want to create. Remember the rhythm you create determines the story you tell with your life! In other words, time management appears to be about managing tasks and maximizing productivity… but in reality, time management is where the rubber meets the road on how you will tell your story.
- Begin each day with a clear workspace…and end each day with a clear workspace.If you begin and end each day unorganized then you will accomplish less and, subsequently, miss out on that sense of starting each day with understanding that day’s goals; you will also likely not get the euphoria of a school day coming to an end with achievement.
I know these are unpredictable times, and my hope is that you will see the opportunity that exists in uncertainty. And in so doing accomplish more…not less.