There is a simple strategy that can cure many homeschool woes. This one thing can help you get math done, find balance at home, eliminate cheating and slacking off, help children learn science, prevent burnout, and help you make real progress throughout the whole school year. How can this happen? Hold a morning meeting.
You see, once the school year really gets going, you begin to face the harsh realities of homeschooling. It can seem as if you are working all the time, but not going anywhere. Merely spinning your wheels, you wonder why nothing ever gets done. You can solve this problem in just 15 minutes a day, by meeting with each child to review your expectations.
While a daily meeting is a great goal, in practice, a day will be missed here and there. We are all busy people with busy lives, after all! But if you forget a day or two, you will still benefit. If you miss a few days, you can regroup and discover any missed assignments. If you tend to fall behind, or if you see your student overwhelmed by an insurmountable mountain of schoolwork and suddenly falling hopelessly behind, a daily meeting is a great goal.
Become a project manager
Your role as parent changes over time. When your children are young, you are primarily a caretaker. As they enter elementary school, you become the teacher. In high school, you transition to mentor. Later, when they are adults, you become primarily their friend.
Right now, you are transitioning from the teacher stage to the mentor stage. As a boss does, you are supervising the work, not doing the work. And, like a boss, it's best if you don't leave your people unsupervised and undirected. A good boss will meet regularly with their employees, which is the key to success as a homeschool parent as well.
The first time you make the switch from teacher to mentor, it can feel as if you are failing because you stop being the teacher . . . you don’t spend an hour with each child on math or an hour with each child on science. But this feeling of failure is not justified. When your child starts working independently, it’s a sign of success.
What is a morning meeting? It's a regular, short meeting, three times a week or more. During the meeting, touch base with your child on most subjects, especially those your child isn’t inherently motivated to do. This is how a morning meeting helps avoid cheating or slacking off.
1. Meet each day with each child
A quick 15 or 30-minute check-in with each child will make sure they know what is expected, so they can do the job required with less help from you. While it seems like a lot of time, this short meeting will save you time and clarify your expectations for the day.
2. Touch base on each subject
During the meeting, try to mention each subject – especially subjects your child isn’t inherently motivated to do. You could discuss a science lab or co-op class for the day, and state your expectations for the remaining school day. Give assignments and discuss work progress.
3. Review problem areas
During the morning meeting, you can work on your child’s weak area. Explain assignments and review expectations for the day so they know exactly what they need to do. Review consequences calmly, if necessary.
4. Review vocabulary
This is a key to college success in the future. When your child masters the vocabulary, they will know about 80 percent of a subject. It's not as difficult as it sounds. Simply get your child to make a list of unfamiliar words and review them together each morning. By the end of the week, it's surprising how many your child will know based on simple repetition alone.
Being able to define circumference or stamen is the key to success when you are studying those topics. Learning how to master the vocabulary will prepare your child to succeed in college and career. No matter where they go in the future, in college classes or on the job, learning the vocabulary is a key to getting ahead.
A morning meeting can help you shape and mold your child’s sense of responsibility each day.
Become a project manager and you can facilitate learning every day. For unschoolers and relaxed homeschoolers, a daily check in can make sure your child learns on purpose every day, rather than settling for a day filled with video games. A 15 or 30-minute check-in for core subjects each day can help you assess the situation and keep kids on task. It will help them so they do not forget school for a week.
A simple morning meeting is a job skill supervisors use in the work environment. Holding a daily morning meeting can help you identify your true priorities. Prioritize the important over the urgent things that come up. Begin with core literacy: reading, writing, and math. Then move to the core subjects of social studies, science, and foreign language.
A morning meeting helps avoid cheating and slacking off. It can prevent daily annoyances and poor decisions from spiraling out of control. You know how bad things can happen to good people? While uncommon, massive yearlong cheating can happen even within good families with sweet children.
Holding a morning meeting can help you pick up on these problems before they become huge issues. While you may not remember to check every day, if a daily check in is your goal, you'll notice within a week if there is a big issue. A meeting will help you stay on top of your child’s progress. Choose your battles to make sure you don’t lose sight of the big picture for your family.
If you tend to fall behind in your homeschool, or if you see your student becoming overwhelmed by their work, instituting a morning meeting can be the perfect answer! It’s easy for children to get off-track, and teenagers often have an uncanny ability to avoid work. Meetings can help your kids become responsible adults. By reviewing your expectations each day, you’ll know if you are expecting too much (or too little). You can avoid burn out.
Instead of teaching, facilitate and supervise learning. In some areas, you may feel like a fish out of water as you guide your student – for example, in a science such as physics. I didn’t recognize what the symbols meant in physics. I couldn’t even read each answer aloud because I didn’t know how to say the names of the symbols and I still managed to cover physics in our homeschool high school.
Holding a morning meeting helped my children learn science when I didn’t understand what they were learning. I went over their vocabulary words, and sometimes asked them questions from the book. Over the four years of high school, I became less involved each year. I found that chemistry didn’t require as much help as biology. You can review vocabulary words, discuss expectations for the day, and review the lab experiment, or the previous lesson.
When you get into the upper grades of math, it can seem to take forever for your child to get a math lesson done. In fact, sometimes it's so overwhelming that it's even tempting to skip math from time to time . . . and then you find yourself way behind in the book. Has this ever happened to you? The morning meeting will help you ensure your child completes a level of math each year. Ask how it's going, check their lessons, tell them about any test, or set them up with their video tutorial. Holding a daily check-in says, "I'm watching" and "I care that you do this stuff," and conveys that you are prioritizing this subject.
Include Delight Directed Learning
Having a morning meeting can help you keep track of delight directed learning, with which you may be less involved. For many families, this natural learning is completely foreign. I didn’t understand what computer coding languages were, or the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics. So, you can ask open-ended questions such as, “What are you working on in your project?” or “What have you been reading about in this area?” Make notes and ask your child to spell words or phrases you don’t understand. At the end of the year, you’ll have a nice list of books they have read, or strange vocabulary words to include (such as Keynesian, a word regarding economics – who knew?).
It can help to begin your day with quiet time yourself. A morning meeting is helpful for children to develop a focus and accountability, but it’s also important for parents to have spiritual focus and accountability. With coffee in hand, you can take a daily time of reflection, and give yourself much-needed margin and self-care. A cup of coffee or tea can be your inspiration for homeschool happiness. It can motivate you to hold your morning meeting with your kids. Beginning each day with a quiet moment, rather than a mad rush, is the beginning of a well-lived life.
Your morning coffee can help you have your morning meeting with God. When you meet with the Lord each day, and He reveals His expectations for you, then your whole day will go more smoothly.
Psalm 143:8 says,
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” I love my Quiet Time Bible, and my Chronological Bible, for daily inspiration and communion with God.
Susan shared her experience with a morning meeting and how it has helped her homeschool family.
Thank you for your morning meeting concept and for sharing that in your webinars. We’ve taken that idea to heart and it’s bearing wonderful fruit. Our days are going the smoothest ever and we experience more joy. We instituted morning meetings faithfully this year for the first time. We’d held morning meetings before, but without this much mutual commitment, dedication, and persistence. Each morning we gather for scripture, a devotional, time of reflection and prayer then discuss the day. We talk about what is on for the day, any meetings, extracurriculars, and I ask, “Where do you need me today?” and “How can I support you today?”. Too, we are appreciating the morning meetings so much that we made sure to made an end of day meeting constant as well. We discuss how the day went, focus on blessings and highlights as well as any challenges. Then, we end noting what went particularly well/top blessings. These conversations are gold! Again, thank you. ~ Susan
A quick daily check-in with the Bible can be the encouragement you need to stay on course. And a quick morning meeting with your teen can help make a successful and less stressful homeschool!
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