It’s About Time Monica!

It’s About Time is a blog series on time management. Join us as we take a peek into the lives of different homeschool moms, all with a unique approach. Today, let’s meet Monica from Three Trees Learning!

What day is it again? I don’t know about you guys, but since about April, my days have been running all together. COVID has really forced us to value the use of our time. The day of the week isn’t as important as how the day is spent. Time management is important now more than ever. Whether you are strictly homeschooling or balancing working from home and homeschooling, it is important that the day is met with intention and purpose!  Time management isn’t about a set schedule as much as it is about maximizing your time and getting the most out of each moment! I am no expert, and I make adjustments when necessary but here are some things that I have found help me to feel successful at the end of each day…even Mon-Tues-Wed-Thur-Friday!

Here are 3 time management tips that have helped me get started on my homeschooling journey:

Tip # 1: Make sure you have a routine in place for daily life! 

When the transition happened from face-to-face to distance learning, I made sure that my girls still followed their morning routine. They brushed their teeth, got dressed, and ate breakfast. As an early childhood educator, I know how important pictures are when teaching young children. They can’t read yet so they are visual learners in the beginning.  I created a checklist that my girls follow to guide them in getting ready in the morning (and at bedtime). The checklist fosters independence and allows me time to set up breakfast and get myself together for the day ahead. It is a simple checklist with no more than 6 steps (with pictures and words) that are checked when they’ve been completed. The more they can do independently, the more I can do!

Tip # 2: Multitask! 

I use breakfast conversations as a way to jump-start their brains and get ready for the day ahead. I use that time to review previously taught concepts and challenge current ideas. I use bedtime stories for reading lessons and integrate learning in everything from a trip to the grocery store to a walk to the mailbox. I keep my daily objective in the forefront of my mind and weave it into everything I do! 

Tip # 3 Their independent work time is my independent work time!

When they are working on practicing skills, I use the time to get my work done. Not all homeschool environments are created equal. Some parents are strictly homeschooling, while others are balancing work and homeschooling. I started my own educational consultant business, Three Trees Learning. Their school day is also my workday. I split my work time between lesson planning, research, or responding to emails. I don’t really do any “housework” during the hours of 8 am-3 pm. I find that when I try to sneak in a load of laundry or wash some dishes I lose productive moments that are worth more to me than an empty sink…just saying! Now, I appreciate a clean and orderly home, don’t get me wrong, but I follow the same schedule I did when I was working outside of the home. (See an example here) When I was a SAHM…nap time was the time that I was able to do things like meal prep and laundry.

As a former elementary school teacher (Pre-K is definitely my happy place, but I’ve also taught K, 1st, and 3rd) turned homeschooling mom and entrepreneur, this is my year of firsts! First year out of the classroom, first year homeschooling, and first year of my educational consultant business (Three Trees Learning). As an educational consultant, I help parents with all of their educational needs for their young children. I didn’t know that I was going to juggle homeschooling 2 young children (ages 5 and 3) with working from home but here we are…thanks COVID! 

Now being a former classroom teacher did help with the transition to homeschooling, but it also hindered me when it came to flexibility! For as long as I can remember being in the classroom, I was told that whenever an administrator came into the room, it was imperative that I was on schedule! Now, they understood teachable moments were spontaneous and lessons don’t always go as expected, but any deviation from the schedule had to be documented. When I started homeschooling the first thing I did was…you guessed it… create a schedule! I had everything mapped out from meals to lessons to bathroom breaks. (Yes, I scheduled in time to use the bathroom!) I got through the first half of day one and the lightbulb went off…what am I doing!? I decided to homeschool so that I could foster a love of learning. I knew that I wanted the learning to be organic and meaningful. I wanted my girls to see that everything they were learning was useful and necessary. So, I basically threw the schedule to the side and realized that learning doesn’t have to happen in such a constricted way.

I had to sit back and really evaluate the goals and objectives that I had for my girls and myself as a single mom, working from home and creating a new business!   In the classroom with 25 children I can understand the benefits of mapping the day out in such a way, but when the school has 2 students and it happens in my living room…there is some wiggle room! 

How do I handle all that freedom…time management! Balance is key! The student will only function as well as their teacher. Although I consider learning to happen all day, every day, I give my children opportunities for independent exploration so that I can regroup and recharge! There is a lot on the plate of a homeschooling mom (not to mention a single homeschooling mom) so it is important that we keep ourselves healthy and balanced so that we give our best to our children! I wake up at 6:30 and start the day with 30 minutes of exercise/yoga/meditation.  I take a peaceful shower while the girls are still asleep and enjoy a cup of lime “tea” before the day begins. I know that this uninterrupted time is essential to my wellbeing and sanity because once they wake up…It’s on! I make sure they are in bed and asleep by 8:30 so that I can spend about an hour tying up loose ends, a half-hour to an hour on entertainment and making it to bed by 11…sleep…wake…repeat!

About Monica

Monica White is a former classroom teacher turned entrepreneur and homeschooling mother of two young daughters. Their independent thinking constantly encourages her to reflect on what is truly important. She was an elementary school teacher for nearly 20 years teaching PreK, Kindergarten, First, and Third grades, but the PreK classroom is her happy place! The limitless potential of the young developing mind is both inspirational and motivational. Her passion for early childhood education led her to leave the classroom and create, an
educational resource for parents who are confidently claiming their role
as their child’s first teacher while supporting the development of the
whole child.

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