Your homeschooling routine may be picture perfect right now, but what happens to your productivity level when you have medical appointments?
A well-child check up for the kids?
A scheduled medical appointment for yourself?
A dental appointment?
All those orthodontist appointments…
Or how about hair appointments?
A dog groomer’s appointment?
Or a last-minute playdate square in the middle of your day?
Regular Appointments Don’t Have to Derail Your Homeschool Day
Many moms I have talked to have confessed that homeschooling, itself, is not that difficult.
The real challenge lies in keeping up with everything else in life – house cleaning, grocery shopping, getting dinner on the table, managing youger siblings, keeping up with friends, and getting to the appointments.
Those appointments can put a huge kink in your day and leave you feeling defeated and overwhelmed. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
You do not have to cancel your school day, and you don’t have to be a ball of stress trying to smash everything in either.
Check out my Top 10 homeschool strategies for appointment days to help keep you on task, productive, and sane!
10 Strategies for Homeschooling Around Appointments
1. Respect Your School Hours
There is the ever-present temptation to be “flexible” because you homeschool.
You *could* schedule that appointment at 10:30am…but should you?
You *could* go to the playdate at noon…but is that the best idea this week?
Don’t be afraid to draw a box around your school hours and ask others to respect that boundary. Whether it’s a receptionist scheduling an appointment, family that likes to call during the day, or a friend asking for a playdate, make it clear that you are not available until a certain time of day.
No apologies needed.
2. Get Up and Get Ready Before Your Kids
I am a big fan of waking up early before your kids in order to have a calm, relaxing morning.
This is especially helpful when you have somewhere important you need to be. Be sure to set your alarm so that you have time to shower and get dressed well before your school day normally starts.
This leaves a maximum amount of morning time with your kids to work on their school work before you go to your appointment.
I know it’s hard to wake up early, but you will be less stressed for time and able to help your kids get ready (you know there will be one who can’t find their shoes) too.
Can’t get up early? I wrote this for you, Homeschool Mama.
3. Batch the Well Child Check-Ups
I started doing this a couple of years ago. Two of my kids have birthdays close together that are near Christmas. I thought it was ridiculous to make 2 separate trips to the doctor during such a busy month.
I started scheduling them together in January. Pretty soon, I also started scheduling my third child in that January group. It just made sense for us, and our doctor had no issue with it.
This strategy may save you some disrupting trips to the doctors office, but of course, check with your doctor first.
4. Try to Schedule Appointments/Errands on a Regular Day
Yes, there are times that you can’t help scheduling appointments during your homeschool hours.
When that happens (and especially if it’s a pregnancy, therapy, or other types of regular appointments), make sure you have an “errand day” scheduled into your weekly homeschool schedule.
What does that look like?
For us, errand day is Tuesday. I try very hard to have all appointments scheduled on Tuesday. When we are out, I make sure to return the library books, swing by the grocery store, drop off things at the post office, and pick up whatever we needed at Walmart.
Again, I was using the same batching technique to minimize the disruptions to our homeschool.
Of course, sometimes I couldn’t get an appointment on Tuesday, so our errand day would just shift to whatever day the appointment had to be scheduled.
5. Line Your Curriculum Up with Your Appointment Day
Some curriculum subjects are designed to be taught 3 or 4 days per week.
Be sure to line up that “off day” from your curriculum with your errand day.
One less thing you need to worry about completing during a busy day!
6. Talk to Your Kids About Expectations
I keep a large calendar visible for my kids to track what is coming up. I have found that even the youngest of kids will appreciate having an idea of what to expect during the day.
I remind them that we have an appointment today. I tell them what time we need to be leaving – not when the appointment is. Those are two very different things to a kid.
I tell them how I expect the day to run and what I still want us to accomplish that day. I tell my kids what I want to finish before and after the appointment.
Setting these goals and standards keeps you accountable and from just throwing the whole day away.
7. Focus on the Core Work – Drop Everything Else
On your errand/appointment day, remember that the most important thing you need to focus on is core work – reading, writing, and math.
Everything else is considered “enrichment” during the elementary school years.
If you are able to fit some enrichment work in your day – great! If not, that’s fine!
Your goal is to keep on top of the most important things, the foundation of education – reading, writing (includes spelling), and math.
When we have appointments or other unexpected disruptions to our day, I take an axe to what I expect my kids to complete (we also include Bible and read-aloud books for core work). Science, history, typing, foreign language – it all gets chucked out the window.
The remaining work is much more attainable for my kids to complete, which motivates them to get moving.
8. Cancel School For Students Younger than 1st Grade
When you have a busy appointment day in you homeschool, tell your preschool, pre-K, or kindergarten student that they have the day off!
As my regular readers know, I am not a believer in formal curriculum for kids below the kindergarten level.
Many kindergartens run on a 3 or 4 day per week schedule, so take no guilt in giving your 5 year old the day off!
This takes a ton of stress off of your plate and clears up time to focus on your older kids who can’t afford to take the time off.
9. Take School Work in the Car and to the Waiting Room
When you know you have an appointment later in the day, teach your child their core work lessons in the morning. Then plan to have them complete their bookwork (workbooks, etc.) independently in the car or in the waiting room.
Most waiting rooms are very quiet and boring, so your kid might not mind cracking their math workbook there.
10. Do Not Double Up On Lessons
This is something I have never done and will never do with my kids. Just because we had to go to a dentist appointment, it does not mean that my kids have to sit through two language arts lessons the next day.
That is excessive for most kids, they will likely not learn as much as they could, and/or do their best as they slog through pages of material.
I find it much better for everyone’s morale and the long term success of the homeschool to set goals, finish what you can, and start fresh the next day.
Bonus Tip: Do Yourself a Favor and Put Something in the Crockpot
Homeschooling is a lifestyle, and appointment days can make you feel like that lifestyle is in a complete tailspin.
Nothing magnifies that more than getting home from a long day of schooling your kids, parenting in general, and making an appointment on time – with everybody in tow – and then you remember with despair that you have no idea what to feed everyone for dinner.
You may just want to throw in the towel at that point. Help yourself out and make sure you always pencil in a dinner plan on your calendar BEFORE your appointment day.
Maybe you’ll throw some spaghetti sauce, soup, or whatever in the crockpot that morning. Or maybe you’ll budget that to be your night to eat out – with no guilt!
Either way, a planned dinner at the end of a long day can make the difference between feeling like a homeschool mom failure and feeling like you’re crushing it!
Recap How to Keep Your Homeschool on Track When You Have Regular Appointments
Remember to give yourself some grace, Homeschool Mama!
Keep in mind that traditional schools have unexpected disruptions that take away from classwork. If your student was attending “regular school,” they would still have to miss class for their medical appointments.
And there are other disruptions that take away from scheduled classwork:
Having to Attend Assemblies
Other Students Acting Out in Class
Half Days for Parent/Teacher Conferences or other Training
A traditional school is not a perfect, sterile learning environment and neither is homeschooling. That is okay!
Follow the above 10 tips and pretty soon you will find a confident rhythm in your homeschool that everyone will be used to on appointment days.
You’ve got this!