Praying about, planning, and putting together a new schedule for the school year is one of my summer priorities. Our 2006-2007 schedule had been committed to paper for a couple weeks when Steve and I began discussing the children’s request to have school time scheduled to practice their music together. The schedule already allowed for individual instrument practice, music theory, and harmony work – a fairly time-intensive amount of music in the school day. However, as we talked, it was apparent that at this point in our lives, music is a high priority because we are regularly doing a family-music session when we travel and speak. Having the children practicing together would be beneficial not only for them but also for the direction of our ministry.
Scheduling for Important Subjects
We decided to put their already-scheduled fifteen minutes a day of Spanish on hold for this year and cut their writing time from thirty to fifteen minutes. This would then free up thirty minutes in the school schedule for a sibling music practice. I returned to my colored squares and sticky tac for a second time to revise the schedule to reflect the changes Steve and I felt would be good for our children’s school year.
Not long after making the schedule change, Steve and I were talking on our daily, early morning walk. We discussed how great it was to take our once-a-week longer walk on the coolest morning of that hot, August week. We also realized that with school soon starting, our ability to go for a walk based on good weather would soon end. We would return to using Saturday to fit the two-hour walk into a non-school day. As I pondered that, the Lord prompted me to again be flexible with my schedule, using it to meet the particular needs of our family.
Willingness to Be Flexible in Scheduling
I found myself once again pulling my master schedule out of the cupboard for another round of revision. I could postpone my first one-on-one school meeting by forty-five minutes and move my “odds and ends” time from the afternoon into that slot. Then if it was a glorious morning and Steve was available for our long walk, I would available as well. “Odds and ends” time could be skipped for a walk, but my school meetings with each individual child are higher priorities – not bumped unless absolutely necessary.
My schedule is my tool. It is designed to help me accomplish what the Lord Jesus has called me to do. As I work with my schedule, I am setting it up, under Steve’s leadership, for the priorities that have been put in place in our family – for my time and for the children’s time as well. We take into consideration our children’s interests and their possible future needs. Thirteen-year-old Anna came to us and requested that we consider scheduling her science time to study gardening rather than the normal eighth-grade science book. As we prayed and evaluated that part of her school schedule, we decided if she had a gardening focus for science it would be helpful to her both now and in the future.
I can also use my schedule for built-in flexibility. In the case of the morning walks, I know that once a week I would like to start school later than I do on the other days. In order to accomplish that desire, I needed to place a low-priority activity in the morning that could be skipped for the walk when I choose to do so. Generally, I put the things that are least important for me to accomplish in the afternoon because I know that time is more easily interrupted than our morning school time is. However, for the sake of that walk and talking time with my husband, I made a change in our schedule to make it flexible, practical, and useable.
Another great facet of a schedule is that if the change I instituted does not work out well, I can go back to the way the schedule normally had been, or I can try something entirely different. Having the schedule committed to paper helps me make those changes. I am not trying to remember strictly from my mind the new pieces of the schedule.
This year, fourth-grade Mary will be reading her history, science, and health on her own. She has scheduled time that allows her to read, answer questions, plus take quizzes and tests. Steve and I wonder about her ability to accomplish this without my help. Her older siblings have done well in making the transition to more independent study in these subjects, but we aren’t so sure about Mary. As we discussed this situation, we decided to give her the opportunity to see if she could do it on her own. I made the schedule up this way. However, my schedule is flexible. If, as we begin the school year, it becomes apparent that Mary needs to read her history and science with me, I will rearrange her schedule and my schedule to accommodate that.
A schedule brings a great amount of order, productivity, direction, and peace to a homeschool home. It is my desire to share personal scheduling information with you that will help you envision the practical aspects of how a schedule can work in your family. Perhaps as you get a glimpse into my schedule discussions with Steve and how they affect my schedule making, you will be encouraged to tackle a schedule for your homeschool.
Our book, Managers of Their Homes has much more information on scheduling and includes the Scheduling Kit (colored squares and sticky tac) I mentioned. Daily, we receive testimonies about how this book is being used as a tool to transform families.