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Learning Skills: Little by Little and Day by Day

I suppose it applies to life in general, but I find it applies especially to homeschooling certain subjects.  You can’t get away with a marathon learning session in phonics, foreign languages, math concepts, writing skills, typing, or any skill-based learning. It just doesn’t work.  Learning these sorts of skills is like eating, exercising, dieting, or sleeping.  Each of these must be done everyday, whether you want to or not.  If you save them up for the weekend, or for a rainy day, or for when it suits you, you’ll get nowhere.

If you are disciplined to learn little by little, day by day,

you will learn a bit everyday,

you’ll be finished for the day before you really even realize you started,

you’ll progress with minimal effort,

you’ll be able to look back at the end of the week with satisfaction,

you’ll get a lot done without even realizing it,

you won’t be stressed about neglecting things you think you should be doing,


you won’t feel guilty when you decide to take a holiday.

But it is hard to be disciplined, and if a mom wants her kids to learn a bit everyday, she has to commit to help them, or at least remind them, everyday.  This is where I’ve often had difficulties, but it is very helpful to distinguish between learning skills and learning content.  Content such as history and literature can be learned in marathon sessions if the presentation is interesting enough.  For example, a huge amount of history can be absorbed in a rainy afternoon of novel reading.

This summer we are taking three months off, but we’re still doing regular but very minimal work in certain areas:  phonics, French review, subtraction review, some music, and Dutch.  A little bit every day—or every second day since it’s summer—will save weeks and weeks of review and catching up in the fall.  I must discipline myself to insist on this, but since it will save me so much time in the long run, I now consciously decide, every day, to put in those few minutes here and there. 

None of this is crucial for anyone except Miss 6 year old and her phonics, and Miss 16 year old, who has to catch up after spending 5 school weeks working on a dairy farm… and for her it really matters.  When there are only two years left of high school, you cannot afford to get behind!  So now she and I are trying to catch up, doing a little bit every day. 

And when there is a rainy day, or we really feel like doing a marathon session of something, we can settle down with our novels, games, music, crafts, or other hobbies because no one is behind in anything that needs to be done.  No stress.  No guilt.  Just relaxation and freedom.

Now, I do not wish to stress anyone out.  If you decide that you need the entire summer to relax, remember that relaxation is crucial, and enjoy the free time.  If you prefer to unschool, my hat’s off to you.  If you’re learning full-time year-round, with no breaks ever, examine yourself and your family for signs of burn out…and if there are none, more power to you.  But my family and I needed this encouragement at this time, and that’s why I ended up writing about it. 

Wishing you much joy and wisdom if you reconsider what works best for you and your family at this time.

Annie Kate

 Thirsty Thursday


  1. Anonymous says:

    Well said!

    I had not put it together that way yet…but, feel we need a little "morning school" through summer. Some days it is just a little but, it is worth it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    oh forgot to sign my name. 🙂



  3. kristenph says:

    Good analogy. I need to remember to just keep being consistent, especially with my 7 year old.

  4. LarabaK says:

    I see the same truth, that a little bit in certain areas really helps. Our 6 yo son is learning to read and if we do 5 to 10 minutes every day, he progresses smoothly. If we take a break, he loses a lot.

    I would guess math is often similar. I've not done math this summer, though. Our older 3 are all "mathy" types, as are my dh and I (we are both engineers).

  5. 2boysmom says:

    this reminds me of Managers of Their Homes, when they taught that doing something for 15 minutes a day, rather than intending on doing it for an hour each week, but never actually doing it, would get you so much further down the road. That stuck with me when I read that because I would put off doing things that weren't on the priority list, and yet, they never got done. When I set it up in the schedule to do that thing (example: scrapbooking) every day, I accomplished so much more.

    Have a great weekend!

  6. Joy @ Five J's says:

    What a fabulous reminder. We're sorta taking the summer off, but only because we've been so busy. Our new schedule next year is a very modified year round-ish schedule, but with very frequent breaks. I'm looking forward to it.

    Thanks for participating in Thirsty Thursday!

  7. proverbsmama says:

    Great post!

    BTW — I linked to you on my latest blog entry. 🙂

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