Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Homeschool Tips from a Setonite

via pinterest
Since I've just started twelfth grade (woohoo!) and I know most of you are starting the school year about now as well, I thought I'd share some homeschooler's "helps" to get one through the agony.  I am by no means a whiz at schoolwork, but over twelve years of torture I've had time to discover some helpful little tips and tricks.  I daresay they're mostly common-sense, but since that particular quality is sadly lacking these days, I don't think anyone will notice.

  • Music.  This doesn't work for everyone, but most people will find that there's maybe just one subject that gets done faster or more easily when they're listening to music.  Personally, I need music for subjects that don't take up much brainpower, because if my brain isn't occupied, I get antsy and am likely to just stop doing whatever it is.  I also need music for subjects that frustrate me and for things that I can hardly force myself to do.  (At this point you might be wondering what I do without music.  Wellll.....precious little.  A grand total of two subjects out of seven, to be precise.)  Now, I know tons of people already listen to music while doing schoolwork, but here's the thing: a lot of them listen to the wrong kind.  Face it, most popular music isn't going to help you think.  Sorry darling.  Now, of course everyone has their preferences, but as a rule, calmer music is better, and instrumental is always good.  That doesn't necessarily mean classical, either, though classical is a good choice.  Personally, I like Enya, Mozart, and string-quartet versions of more upbeat songs.   
  • Location.  If you're easily distracted (like me), the revered dining-room-table method is probably the worst choice.  There are always people walking through, yelling in the next rooms, and talking to you when you're trying to work.  Not to mention that eventually your family forgets you're there and thus unwittingly lets you eavesdrop on various conversations.  NOT that I would know anything about that.  *whistles*  Ideally, I think the best thing to do is to change your position for different subjects.  If you always do a certain subject in a certain place, simply going to that place will make your brain prepare for the subject.  For instance, I do math and logic in the dining room (no, I do not follow my own advice), English on my bed, Literature sitting in my rocking chair, science on the couch, and everything else at my desk (which is really a dumpster table, but don't tell anyone).
  •  Food and drink.  One, eat breakfast.  I never do (hate that meal) and then I'm sitting with a math book at ten o' clock about to faint.  It's not conductive to understanding or efficiency.   Two, find out if caffeine really helps at all.  I drink black tea every morning, but it's more to stop hunger than to help me work.  Caffeine can do more harm then good where school is concerned, because it makes you jittery and easily distracted.  Some people are still helped by it, though, so find out what it does for you personally.  Finally, I've discovered that a snack or drink in the afternoon really helps with that 3 o' clock slump.  I haven't tried it in the winter yet, so I'm not sure what would be best, but during the summer I would get a glass of iced tea, juice, a cookie, or some other little thing (often sweet) to nibble or sip while I worked.  It really helped, especially because I always feel a need to occupy my brain whilst I eat or drink.
  • The black hole of procrastination.  I refer to the internet.  This is the biggest no-brainer ever, and yet no one can resist it.  If you can't use sheer willpower (and it's harder than it sounds), just disconnect your computer.  Then that little orange fox (or whatever, dependeding on which internet service you use) is no use, and you are forced to work.  If for whatever reason you can't do that, a lesser solution is to just visit all your pet sites at a stated time.  That way you've seen all the updates and you don't get that curiosity in the back of your mind to check what's new on Pinterest or see if there are any new posts on your favorite blogs.  This isn't a perfect solution because, besides the fact that you've given in to the temptation, you still tend to get lost in the intricacies of blog links or youtube videos and lose track of time, with often disastrous results.  Bottom line, you're gonna have to expend some willpower no matter what, but there are ways to minimize it.
  • Bribe yourself.  "If I finish this essay today, I'll watch an extra episode of _________ later."  Or "I'll have a nice dessert after dinner."  Or whatever it takes.  I must confess that I have been known to give myself the reward even if I don't complete the task.  Don't do that.  It's ridiculous.  You only get the prize if you do the work. And, speaking of indulgence, celebrate your perfect scores.  I remember one of the only times I got 100% on a math test, my mom called my dad and told him, and he brought me back a little fairy craft as reward when he came home that night.  That was in....probably seventh grade.  Now, as a highschooler, you don't expect prizes, and I'm not even saying you should buy yourself something.  Just, tell your family, do a happy dance, and eat a cookie.  Cookies are good for everything.
  • Tell others about what you're doing.  Seriously, this helps.  If you discuss your book analysis with your mom, a sibling, or anyone whom you see very often, you'll get more interested in it yourself.  Plus, they'll often ask you how it's going, and then of course you want to give a favorable answer, so you work on it more and make a better effort than if no knew but you.  If you're lucky (and it doesn't annoy you too much), you can convince someone to nag you about a despised subject or assignment till you do it.  I've tried numerous times to get my mom to force me to work, and she just WON'T DO IT.  Hopefully you have someone more cooperative.  *glares*

Well, hopefully something in that gave you some ideas.   Good luck with the school year!  Say a prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas when you're stuck.  He's the patron saint of scholars.


  1. Great post. Great tips. Just... awesome!

    Something that I find helps when school is getting to be monotonous is going outside for a walk or bike ride or such. Not taking too much time, of course. ;) But just getting some fresh air. :)

  2. Wonderful tips! I have to agree with you on the music. I sometimes listen to quiet celtic music, or classical.
    One thing that has always helped me was to type out a schedule that outlines all of your subjects, in a decided order, and allow a certain amount of time for each. Then plan the day that way. For example: "Breakfast - 7:00, Math - 7:30, Chemistry - 8:30, etc" and really force yourself to stick to that schedule. I violate this all the time, but the days that I do stick to it are my best school days.
    I'm going into my senior year too, hooray for class of 2013!! :D


Your comments make my day! I read every single one of them, and I'll usually check out my commenters' blogs, if I don't follow them already. I try to reply to my comments, but please don't be offended if I don't make it to yours. Procrastination habits do extend to comment replies, unfortunately.

Of course, courtesy is necessary. I will delete any comments which do not meet my requirements.

Thanks for making the effort to tell me your thoughts!

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