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Homeschool Restlessness: 1 Great Trick, 5 Things I’ve Learned

Homeschool Restlessness: 1 Great Trick, 5 Things I’ve Learned

We’ve hit springtime homeschool restlessness hard. All we want is play outside. The weather’s great, the backyard is calling. Even the dog is vying for our attention: “Just one, maybe two races across the yard? Pretty, pretty please?” How can we sit here at the kitchen table and focus on book work when there is so much more fun to be had elsewhere? Well, I have an idea, if you’re struggling through springtime homeschool restlessness like us.

First, though, let’s recognize, that the change of seasons is God’s way of refreshing our spirits a bit. Of course it has to do with sustaining plant and animal life and all that, but in our homeschool world, a new season can really mean a refreshing change of pace.

But still. There is handwriting to be done. That just can’t be done while the kids are running wild across the grass.

Enter the Pomodoro Technique

There are tools in my homeschool toolbox I forget I have, and this is one. I whipped it out yesterday after slogging through school last week, only to find we still had work to do on Saturday because we had just dragged. (And I’m not blaming the kids for their lack of focus; I was squarely in the “I’d rather play instead of study” category myself). Sometimes we all have to practice working before playing, because, you know, life demands that of us.

So, I put the toddlers down for their naps and we broke out the timer on my iPad.

The recipe: 25 minutes on, about 5 minutes off. Repeat.

That sounds like a lot for one of my kiddos, who is only 5 years old right now, but it was actually great. Here were our results:

  1. I was surprised to find that even I had trouble staying on task for 25 minutes. I realize how much of our homeschool slacking is my fault because I have my own little side projects going and am flitting here and there. Staying on task for 25 minutes was tougher for me than I expected. I need to work on that.
  2. It worked differently for different kids. I let the 5-year-old out when she’d finished what I wanted her to do within that timeframe. Her lessons should only take about 15 minutes, so to force her to sit and do more for the full 25, I thought wasn’t necessary. We’re only in the beginning stages of building attention. She actually stuck around and did extra work during one of the sessions, so that’s cool.
  3. Having an endpoint is helpful. The 10-year-old whined and complained, but I think felt the same relief I did that no matter how far we got, we’d quit when the timer when off. There was an end point. This is the kid who can make a lesson drag on and on and on and on and on. So the Pomodoro Technique is perfect for him right now. If you have a whiner and a complainer, give Pomodoro a shot.
  4. Focus is key. That 10-year-old actually got more done, more quickly, than he normally would in an hour. It’s all about the focus, kind of like High Intensity Interval Training, or Burst Training, (or whatever you call it) for working out. You go hard for a set time, then rest. But it only works if you go hard. Pomodoro only works if you actually focus in and do the work for the 25 minutes. And work, it does. I was amazed at how fast he finished spelling. And, even though the grammar lesson was tricky, he did a good solid job of it.
  5. If you’re including handwriting-intensive activities, try alternating. I’m confident my kid would have died if I’d asked him to do grammar and spelling back-to-back with only a 5 minute break. His arms would have fallen off. Instead, we rotated handwriting-intensive activities with no handwriting necessary activities and it worked great. I even got a paragraph of beautiful cursive out of the kid whose arms fall off. Awesome.

So that’s how our first Pomodoro-style homeschooling session of the spring went. Have you tried it? Share your tips below!

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.

Rhiannon

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Let’s Thrive Together!

Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

--the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
--current homeschool news,
--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

Latest Posts

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  • Happy New Year and all, but more importantly, today we got to watch our @wyo_football win the Arizona Bowl. (With a freshman QB starting for the 1st time ever, btw 😮😮😮💪🏻) Way to go Pokes! #theWorldNeedsMoreCowboys #OneWyoming #GoWyo
  • We always have so much fun doing projects from @artforkidshub #homeschool #trynewthings #watercolor
  • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
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The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
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This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
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Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
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Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
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Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?
  • #homeschool #family #weekend projects. Oldest got through a CPR course, curtains are hung, first batch ever of hard apple cider is bottled (a big learning experience!), and Morning Time for the next term is planned. 👊🏻 Time to call Dominos so these people can get fed 😂
  • Oh Halloween. That day when I pull costumes out of thin air at T-minus one hour ‘till trick-or-treating. Then one kid melts down in the middle of the fun, and is carried screaming to the car, with me hoping all the while that no one thinks I’m abducting a child. And, my favorite non-PC thought: one kid suggests we should have dressed as hobos, since we’re going around asking people to give us free candy. Phoned it in this year, Kutzers. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ #gladitsover For the record, we had a soccer player, an archer, Spider Girl, a princess, a tiny farmer, a witchy mom (Is that even a costume or just a Thursday?), and Bat Dad.
  • We may not get school started until 8 or 9, but we eat well while we read. “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” I think the house smelling like bacon counts as atmosphere. 😂🥰
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#homeschool #charlottemasonirl #homecookedmeals #livingbooks

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