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Homeschool Time Management

8 Tips for Homeschool Time Management

When you first started homeschooling, did you think, “This is wonderful! Since I’ll be totally in control of our homeschooling schedule, we will have all the time in the world!” Ah, such blissful naiveté.

The truth is, managing your own schedule can be a blessing or a curse depending on your discipline. Time management can become downright complex when you are homeschooling multiple children across different age groups. I remember one year homeschooling five kids by myself; the youngest was a toddler and oldest a high school senior. With so many children needing oversight, allocation of time became a serious challenge.

In this article I’d like to share proven strategies for successful time management.

How Are My Time Management Skills?

There’s no one right way for managing your time. It all depends on how many children you are homeschooling, their ages, the amount of help you receive from your spouse, the rigor of the curriculum, and your own educational style. A good time management style will take all these factors into consideration.
A good way to evaluate your current time management is to ask yourself two questions:

  • Do I feel in control of my time?
  • Does my current time management allow me to meet my goals?

These questions are simple, but incisive. The first is a gut-check of your feelings, the second a more analytical assessment. Both will help shed light on the matter. If your homeschooling goals are not being met, then clearly your current time management is not suited to your schedule. Either the schedule or your system of managing time needs to change.

If you don’t feel in control of your schedule, then a fundamental premise of homeschooling is being undermined. After all, we homeschool to have more control over our children’s education. If our time management leaves us feeling out of control, then it is time to shift gears.

So, while there is no one “right” way to manage your time, I can offer some best practices for homeschooling time management. Consider these not as hard-and-fast rules, but more like guideposts to light your way as you find your groove.

1. Make Time Management One of Your Goals!

When you began homeschooling, you probably had some goals you laid out relating to why you wanted to homeschool to begin with. Perhaps it was better academics, or more focus on creative projects, or faith formation. Was time management one of your goals? If not, it should be! Successful time management is a homeschooling goal along with your curriculum and faith formation goals.

Think of it this way: Have you ever resolved to get in shape? If so, what works better: simply thinking, “I should work out” or creating a clearly defined set of workout objectives broken down into a daily routine? Anyone who has ever exercised knows that it just doesn’t happen without a clearly definable goal. Similarly, if you hope to be serious about time management, make this one of your explicit homeschooling goals.

2. Remember Your Priorities

I remember years ago I met a young couple who were just beginning to homeschool. The mother had spent hundreds of dollars buying ten different curriculum packages with all the bells and whistles: supplemental activity packets, flash cards, bonus DVDs, subscriptions to online tutorials, and everything under the sun. She was so excited, God bless her! I laughed to myself and said, “She’s going to end up using about one fourth of that stuff.” Sure enough, I caught up with the family nine months later and most of her materials had not even been opened.

As we progress through homeschooling, there is a tendency to want to add more and more to our program. That’s understandable. There are so many excellent homeschooling resources out there. But this tendency to accumulate will lead to time crunches if we are not careful. When picking our curriculum materials, remember your core priorities as determined by your scope and sequence. This will help you avoid the “mission creep” of overextending yourself by purchasing too many materials that you don’t have time to implement.

3. Set a Daily Schedule

What is the best way to structure your educational day? This will depend on your content, number of kids, and their teaching styles. For example, there was one year where I was homeschooling a preschooler, 3rd grader, and 6th grader simultaneously. I structured my day so that the two older kids were doing independent work first thing in the morning, leaving me free to do hands-on lessons with my preschooler. I would get all the preschooler’s classwork out of the way first thing, then give her free time. During her free time I worked with the older kids directly. Afternoon was dedicated lighter classes (like art) or quiet reading time.

Your daily schedule might not look like this. Some parents like to put more demanding courses earlier in the day and lighter stuff at the end, while others prefer the opposite. You need to think about what the best daily schedule for your situation is. Then do your best to stick to that!

You can find scheduling / planning forms here: Free Catholic Homeschool Forms

4. Don’t Procrastinate!

Many of us struggle with procrastination. Having a daily schedule is of tremendous benefit to combatting this. Procrastination is one of the great pitfalls of home education. As I said above, managing your own schedule is a blessing and a curse. Procrastination can become a problem if you do not work against it with intentionality. The best remedy for procrastination is to stick to the task at hand. Work from your daily schedule. The most important thing is simply to start; you’ll be surprised how motivated you get to finish once you begin.

Another idea is to have an accountability partner. Find a supportive homeschool friend and the two of you commit to building one another up. Put it on your calendar to talk on the phone or have coffee once a week to check in on each other’s homeschool progress.

5. Avoid Multitasking

When under pressure, you may feel that multitasking is the way to get more done. This is actually not true; studies have conclusively shown that multitasking is counterproductive because most brains can only focus on one task at a time. Multitasking generally ends with getting less done at lower quality than if we just would have handled things sequentially. Productivity can drop as much as 40% when you are multitasking.

When tackling something big and complex like a day of homeschooling kids, you want to follow the old adage about the best way to eat an elephant—one bite at a time. Take baby steps. Do one task at a time; plug away at your daily list, and resist the attempt to try to do multiple things at once.

6. Establish Deadlines

Set up deadlines for yourself and put them on your calendar. Deadlines establish a mental “finish line” to cross when you accomplish your task. People react to deadlines differently, but in general people accomplish more when there is a deadline to adhere to. However, it is more than just setting a deadline—you need to commit to meeting your deadlines!

7. Structured Break Time & Rejuvenation Days

We’ve talked a lot about discipline, deadlines, and schedules. But even the most diligent homeschooling parent needs time for regeneration. Structure in break time throughout the day so you have time to relax and recharge. In my own homeschool, I let the kids have 45 minutes of free time and I’d literally go take a nap every day at 2:00 PM. Pure bliss.

Besides structuring in daily break time, you should also schedule rejuvenation days. Even in public school teachers have “teacher workdays” throughout the semester; you deserve the same! Schedule a monthly day where there is no school. Use the day to reflect, pray, relax, catch up, or do whatever makes you feel on top of things.

8. Learn to Say No

Finally, jealously guard your own time. The world is full of people who will impose upon your time. If you let them it could spell disaster. Learn to be assertive about the value of your personal time. It’s okay to tell people, “I’m sorry I don’t have the time for that right now.” If something is not a priority, say no to it. That could be people, parish events, extracurricular activities, recreational events, social commitments, or even school projects. Be relentless in the protection of your time. It’s precious and can never be retrieved once gone. Don’t let people waste it. The day will come when your children leave the next and you have time for more outside activities.

Time Management and Organization for Teens

Time management is also important for students. Teaching your children to manage and organize their time effectively will not only help your family homeschool run more smoothly today, it will help them later in life. Homeschool Connections offers a number of resources to help you:

  • How to be an Excellent Student online course. This course can be taken as a LIVE, interactive course or as a recorded, self-paced course. If you’re having trouble with time management, I recommend taking it LIVE so that you have the accountability of a scheduled class time. This is a key course for all teen students. It will equip your children with the basic skills of successful “studenting”: organization, comprehension, study habits, test taking, note taking, and more.
  • Organized for Success online course. This course comes in two versions: one for high school and one for middle school students. Like the Excellent Student course, it can be taken LIVE or in recording. Organized for Success teaches students how to create and maintain a system of organization as well as how to successfully manage their time.
  • Accountability Mentoring for Teens. Your teen meets weekly with his or her mentor to learn how to be a self-directed learner, manage their time, and stay organized.


These tips should give you a firm foundation in time management. As a homeschool family, you really don’t have an option here: you must master time management to do home education successfully.

If you’d like to continue this conversation, we invite you to join us in our Catholic Homeschool Connections Community.

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