I write much about schedules, templates and other ways I use to stay on track, not just with homeschooling but also with blogging. I have many fingers in many pies, it seems. But if there is one thing that has helped me to stay on task with these various activities I undertake, it is this: time linking.
It works because it uses associations.
Associations are powerful drivers of action and memory. Ever feel compelled to eat or cook just because you smell food? Who can’t recall an exact memory from years ago because of finding oneself in a childhood home?
This happens because that place, that time has developed strong connections in our mind with a specific thing. We can use that same strategy to stay on track in our homeschooling.
How to Use Time Linking
If you think about your day, chances are you are doing certain things at specific times. For me, I have to write in the mornings. I work best that way. I can’t, for instance, pick up a book and read at five in the morning and I cannot write at seven in the evening. In my mind, each of those time blocks are linked with specific actions.
It’s the same with homeschooling. The hours between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. are the hours when we deal with difficulties the children might be facing and move on to more involved work in science or history.
We don’t do anything else during those hours. If we want to watch something that is related to those subjects, I still prefer that we wait until after 11 a.m. to get it done. It doesn’t “feel” right to turn on the television before noon. In my mind (and in my children’s minds) that time block is linked strongly with sit down work.
Customizing Time Linking
It is best if time linking comes together organically, but that doesn’t mean you can’t impose any structure. Take your normal day and see how it unfolds naturally. Then see if you can tweak it a bit.
I will warn you against getting started too soon on this. Toddlers seem to march to the beat of their own drummer, so if you try to impose time linking on a toddler or preschooler, it could be rough. We don’t do formal sit down work until the child is ready, which is much later. Time linking for a toddler works for nap times and lunch/snack times. No more.
Customizing time linking to your schedule will get things done, but keep you from feeling like you have to be the one pushing your children to get things done. Instead, it will begin to feel habitual and incorporated into your lifestyle.