Tag Archives: Scheduling

Can a Scheduled Mom be Spirit-Led? – Part 1

Sometimes a question is posed to me implying that if a mom is using a schedule, she is not able to be led by the Spirit. This thought is encapsulated in this message that was going to be posted on MOTHBoard. I asked the author if I could use it as a springboard for a Mom’s Corner so I could write an in-depth answer.

“I was speaking with some moms last night about scheduling. I desperately desire to be more scheduled, but they feel their days should be ordered by the Lord and each day should be new unto itself, open to what their children need, etc. Is there a way to be both? Is a schedule so structured that God cannot order your day? I would appreciate Teri commenting on the balance here. I’m having trouble keeping to my schedule, and I think I may be justifying it as stated above. I am not keeping to our schedule well at all, and I’m not sure why. I just know I feel stifled in some way, but I long for the order and peace a schedule can give me. Can I do both?” Used by permission

I believe we should begin by looking at a couple of verses to help us define what “Spirit led” means. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:12-14). Spirit led, then, means that I am not following the dictates of my flesh, but rather the direction of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Those not familiar with scheduling might be surprised to learn that my schedule allows my day to be both “ordered by the Lord” and “new unto itself, open to what the children need.” This is the case because when my schedule is planned and put together, it is prayed about during each stage. The schedule is a tool the Lord Jesus has given me to help me to accomplish what He has called me to do—it is a part of my life being Spirit led. That means I am looking to the Lord for what should make up my schedule and how long should be allotted for each activity, not only for me but also for each of the children I am scheduling. The schedule is also flexible, allowing me to accept the changes that the Lord brings into a day that were not a part of the schedule.

Through the Word, the Spirit has led me toward priorities for my time, and these have been confirmed by my husband. The first personal goal the Lord has directed me toward is my personal relationship with Him. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This will only happen as I grow spiritually. Titus 2:4-5 says, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” From these two verses, I receive the next three goals for my time: to love my husband, to love my children, to be a keeper at home. Finally, 1 Timothy 5:9-10 says, “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” These verses suggest to me a final life goal of ministry.

The schedule, with prayer for the specifics, plans out time for each of these Spirit-led aspects of my life. Not only am I able to do what the Lord calls me to do, but because of the use of the schedule, I am more efficient and productive with my time. The schedule has eliminated many of the daily decisions I used to make as I went through my day – decisions that were time wasters and emotionally draining. My mind is now free to focus on the needs at hand rather than trying to plan – on the fly – what should be done and how to fit it in.

To be Spirit led, when I wake up in the morning, I don’t feel any necessity to ask the Lord whether I should take care of my family that day or do something else I would prefer to do. My dictates for a normal day have already been given to me to follow by the Lord Jesus. Because He has placed loving my husband, loving my children, and being a keeper at home as my priorities, I know that I will care for my family throughout the day in obedience to the Lord Jesus. I also know that the tasks that will accomplish this are on my schedule.

It is a little like telling a child he is not to cross the street without stopping and looking both ways first. Once that command has been given, the child is not to come to me each time asking if he should stop and look before crossing the street. The answer will be the same. If he continues to ask me whether he needs to stop and look first, it is almost as though he is testing my leadership or perhaps is trying to get out of having to take the time to be safe.

This is how I would view it if I were asking the Lord every morning if I should get up and feed my family or do their laundry. I have already been told by the Lord what I am to do in those areas by having been given overall responsibility for them. I would feel like I were trying to avoid what I should be doing – trying to find a way to do something else – if I were questioning His direction each day.

Let’s go back to the child crossing a street. It is possible that I could chose to undo that street-crossing instruction for a particular incident. Perhaps I am with my child, and I have checked to make sure it was okay to cross the street. Maybe the street is blocked off so that no traffic can go through, making it unnecessary to look for cars before walking across the street. That is how I see the Spirit leading in the midst of a schedule where overall, basic direction has already been given. There will be some changes to the schedule on a moment-by-moment, day-by-day basis.

In a scheduled day, the Lord will bring unexpected events. This is the “new unto itself” part of a schedule. It may be a sick child who isn’t able to accomplish his chores so siblings and Mom pitch in to take them over. It could be the necessity of going to the dentist for checkups or a filling. The schedule lets me receive these diversions with a sweet attitude because I am current with my daily responsibilities rather than already behind and now getting further behind. I easily know what we can eliminate from our day to accommodate the trip away from home.

A very close-to-home example of this from my life involves our daughter-in-law’s recent pregnancy. When Melanie was put on bedrest, she needed several hours of help during the day while, Nathan, was at work. My schedule didn’t prevent us from helping, but rather it enabled us to meet the needs at hand. I could evaluate, on the schedule, who was more available to help and who was less available. Sometimes it was one of the girls, and sometimes it was me. I am not so tied to a schedule that I am not open to what the Lord brings into my day that isn’t already part of the schedule. If that were the case, then I would have to question whether I were Spirit led. I use the schedule on a daily basis, but I am listening to the Lord when He brings changes—changes I am grateful that I can joyfully accept and be a part of ministering to a need.

I believe it was my schedule that gave me the freedom to invest those four or five weeks with one of us across the street with Melanie, while still keeping up with the needs in our home. I was evaluating on a daily basis who would be helping and when. I was the one to be with Melanie the day she was in labor and then, because I went with them to the hospital, stayed with them the days Susannah Joy was alive. I think about that schedule I use and rejoice in how it facilitated our family’s ability to help Nathan and Melanie. All my children, because of the schedule, knew what to do each day and when to do it. They were able to look at what I was not able to accomplish while I was away from home and alter their schedules to accommodate the necessities. Without the schedule, it is likely our home would have been in a chaotic uproar. As it was, the family was able to do what they should do without me being there with them.

For me, being Spirit led takes place while I am using my schedule. It is a matter of my heart focus. Every day I am seeking the Lord for His strength, grace, and mercy for the day. I have to depend on Him. I look to Him for ways to encourage and support my family. He is my sustenance every minute of the day—right in the middle of what is scheduled to do throughout the day. The Spirit is leading me.

I believe a scheduled mom who has prayed about her priorities and schedule is Spirit led when she is depending on the Lord Jesus. Not only is she Spirit led, but she is also able to accomplish what the Spirit is directing her to do each day. She can face any unscheduled trials, difficulties, and pleasures the Lord brings into her day knowing she has been obedient to the Lord’s calling on her life and that the change of schedule is from Him. She is obedient and Spirit led when she is following her schedule and when there are alterations to the daily plan. May we truly seek the Lord every day with all of our energy, whether we use a schedule or whether we don’t. Next month I want to share more about the relationship of a schedule and being Spirit led.

Scheduling for Priorities and Flexibility

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.

The Scheduling Key

For many homeschooling families who take a summer break from school, planning for the next academic year is now in process. There is a tool, which we have used in our home for many years, that has enabled our homeschooling to be successful. We have reports every day from others who are discovering this powerful help for the homeschool calling and responsibility the Lord has put into their lives. I want to encourage you to avail yourself of this simple means of facilitating your school days.

It is common for me to be asked how I manage to homeschool, to be a wife and mother of a large family, and to take care of my home. The answer is easy. I use a schedule. This is the mechanism the Lord has directed me to use for budgeting my time. It has been one of the greatest practical blessings He has given me to enable fulfillment of the responsibilities He has put into my life.

Some would say that the structure of a schedule is too confining. However, in reality the schedule gives freedom. This mom shares her experience with a schedule by describing the benefits she finds in structure versus the negative consequences of a free-spirited lifestyle:

“There will be such freedom once you are implementing the schedule you’ve decided is best for your family and that the Lord has led you to! It’s easy to listen to the lie from the enemy that just winging it is actually easier, that you’ll have more freedom that way, and that being proactive in your parenting, schooling, and daily life is more work. Really, I’ve found that it’s far harder to REACT all day than to PLAN your routine and rest in it. You’ll have a billion fewer decisions to make, which brings peace, enjoyment of your children, rest in the good things you’re able to teach, and a sense of accomplishment in what you’re able to do in a day.”

A schedule is one of the best ways we have to achieve our homeschooling goals and to feel encouraged by what we are doing. Perhaps the number-one discourager of homeschooling moms is not accomplishing school and also getting behind in other tasks. A schedule sets aside time for the priorities the Lord has placed into our lives. Look at the difference in this mom’s home after one week of using her schedule as compared to the previous weeks:

“We just started our schedule last week. I am so excited with the results so far. My kids have always done better with structure, and this is just what we needed. My house is being maintained, meals are on time (and I have a helper to boot), laundry is kept up, and we are getting more accomplished in our schoolwork than we ever have. I’ve been able to schedule a half hour of Bible study with the kids (two times a day at that), and I’m also giving each one a piano lesson once a week. The kids are scheduled a half hour in the morning and half hour in the afternoon for doing chores, and we are getting more housework done than ever. I’ve even got cleaning baseboards on my schedule now! I was skeptical at first that this would make drastic changes in our life, but I am convinced now. We just had a peaceful weekend because everything had been done throughout the week so we weren’t scrambling to catch up on Saturday.”

There will be times during this school year when Mom is sick, away for a day or more, or for some other reason isn’t able to participate in her normal daily routine. What happens then? Does everything fall apart because Mom isn’t able to tell each family member what to do throughout the day? Does school stop? Does the house become a disaster? It doesn’t have to be that way. A schedule makes it possible for the family to keep doing what they are supposed to be doing even when Mom isn’t fulfilling her normal role in the schedule. This testimonial relates the reality of Mom in bed when the household is running on a schedule:

“I can really see changes since implementing the schedule. And I’ll add another blessing I just experienced. I was sick in bed all day yesterday with a virus or something. I am up and around today and was amazed that the house looked great. The kids were able to do what needed to be done because of the schedule. That never would have been the case before.”

A schedule is a slave to help us. It is not a slave driver that we are required to obey. We use our schedules to allow us to follow the Lord’s direction for our days. However, when He brings interruptions into our schedule, that schedule can help us deal with them. This mom shares how she uses her schedule to her advantage when there are special needs:

“The biggest thing for me is realizing that it’s OK if I don’t do every single thing on my schedule each day. The important thing is that I have a plan and if we fall off, it’s easy to jump right back in. I have to remind myself that even doing half the schedule is better than what we were doing before we had the schedule. On our schedule, I give myself an hour in the morning for chores, but sometimes I use that hour for quiet time, nap or unwind time if it’s been a rough week. In the afternoons, I have an hour for errands, special projects, phone calls, etc., and then later an hour for chores/dinner prep. When I need flex time for myself, I try to use those times on my schedule so that I don’t get the kids off of theirs.”

Scheduling isn’t a task we have to undertake on our own. The Lord has given us valuable help and support for this endeavor through our husbands. Most men are leaders and problem solvers. They can give direction to their wives on their time priorities and usage. Sometimes in making up a schedule, we will find we have thirty hours of activities we are trying to fit into twenty-four-hour days. No wonder we feel overwhelmed. A husband can prayerfully help his wife discern her priorities and whether her time usage reflects those priorities. Taking schedule stumpers to a problem-solving husband is the natural solution the Lord has put into our lives. This story shares how a husband can help with the scheduling process:

“Have you taken your schedule to your husband? I know this has been KEY for me even though I am still struggling. Seeking his input on how to order the days has helped tremendously. If he is willing, I recommend purchasing Manager of His Home, the audio workshop. This tremendously helped my husband and blessed me. We are learning to work more as a team, and I am learning to rely upon his leadership more.”

Scheduling keeps us on track for obediently following the Lord Jesus. Titus 2:4-5 tells us that we are to love our husbands, love our children, and be keepers at home. For homeschooling moms, we have the added calling from the Lord to homeschool our children. Our schedules help us to make sure our time usage is lined up with our calling. Here is a mom who tells us how her schedule keeps her accountable to her God-given priorities:

“My husband is a pastor, and I am his wife and helpmeet. Each year that I pray through my new schedule, I am reminded that my ministry is first and foremost in the home. If I neglect my schedule, the house and children fall apart, which has a negative effect on my husband’s ministry that far outweighs the positives of me being with him all the time. I would encourage making a schedule that reflects the responsibilities that God has given you, and then sticking to that. While we like to do ministry as a family, and there are many opportunities for that, it’s at a level that is appropriate for children. They are not expected to work the 70-hour week that my husband does, just because ministry also happens to be his job. For me, my primary ministry is my family. The beauty of a schedule is the order.”

A schedule helps with maintaining a meek and quiet spirit. There are rewards and consequences built into a schedule that allow us not to be angry with the child who doesn’t apply himself to his task. Instead, we can let the natural consequences take effect and do the work of disciplining and training. In addition, a schedule should have reward-type activities that, without a schedule, a mom might tell her children they may do when they have time – but that day never arrives. This mom shares with us both the help a schedule was for her spirit and the rewards it provided for the children through the day:

“We stayed on schedule for the most part, and I felt great about it so the kids got a reward to play outside with their friends for a while this afternoon. We even had one of them over for dinner. I usually don’t let them play in the afternoon because we are so behind schedule by then that there is no time for them to be outside. The weather was great, so we ate lunch outside and had lots more fun than usual because we had stayed on track. My oldest is a dawdler, though, and decided to do that today. But I kept from getting angry and just stopped her from her activity when it was time, even though she wasn’t done, and had her complete her math during the afternoon free time when her sisters got to play. I am usually tempted to just let her finish her work slowly and not give her a consequence later of no free time, but because I have scheduled Science/History for all of us right after Table Time (writing, spelling, and math), I had to stop her so she could listen to the lesson. It worked great. Hopefully she will learn to stop dawdling, but from now on if she doesn’t she loses afternoon free time.”

Even those who have difficulties with schedules find the benefits their schedules bring to their families and homes make it worth the unnatural effort they have to put forth. The schedule brings productivity to busy lives that otherwise seem to be spinning out of control. It also provides balance in our lives and our children’s lives—balance to accomplish what the Lord Jesus has called us to do. This mom describes how her schedule has brought these benefits to her home and family:

“I am the only homeschooler in our extended family, with public educators on both sides, and we have been homeschooling for two years now. I learned about scheduling from Managers of Their Homes when we began, and it has been such a blessing to me and the children. I find I’m the one with the most trouble staying on or making a schedule. Anyway, I just had a compliment from my in-laws, who were cautious and concerned about our homeschooling. They were impressed with how much we’ve accomplished. I know we couldn’t do it without some structure and planning.”

One final benefit of a schedule I want to highlight has to do with our summer break from school. I wonder how many reading this article are doing school work through the summer, not by choice, but rather because they haven’t yet completed their year’s worth of work. A schedule has freed our family by enabling us to complete all our school work through our normal school year. Then, if we want to do any school in the summer, it is bonus work and not necessary-to-finish-the-year work. Here is a mom who has found this aspect of her schedule to be a true delight:

“I have been using my schedule from Managers of Their Homes now for almost a year. The benefits have been surprising and welcome!! Thank you. Also, part of the joy of having such a schedule during the school year is being able to totally break from it in the summer. Whoopeee!!!”

I have only scratched the surface of the benefits a schedule can bring to a homeschooling mom and her family. It is my hope and prayer that you will see what a schedule can do for you and choose now to begin planning your schedule for the upcoming school year. If you need help with scheduling, our book Managers of Their Homes will give you step-by-step directions and a scheduling kit to direct you through the scheduling process. If you have used a schedule in the past but have gotten off track, may I encourage you to once again pick up your scheduling pieces and prayerfully plan your schedule? I am continually grateful to the Lord for His mercy in teaching me about scheduling. I need my schedule to accomplish what He has called me to do, whether it be what is on the schedule or interruptions He brings in the midst of the schedule. The schedule helps me with both. Perhaps you need the joys a schedule affords as well.

Benefits of Summer Scheduling

One of the main cries of my heart to homeschooling moms is to encourage them to use a daily schedule. Scheduling is at the heart and soul of what has made our home and homeschool successful. I find I have to proclaim the joys of scheduling from the rooftops from time to time, especially after having regular e-mails from struggling homeschooling moms.

With the freedom from school hours that summer brings for many homeschool families comes the ability to fit in many new activities, projects, and tasks. What I have also discovered comes with my summer release from school responsibility is a propensity to laziness and self-focus. Those looked-forward-to free hours fritter away day by day, week by week. When school starts again, I look back on my summer with a heart filled with regrets and if only’s.

The solution the Lord has given me is to use my schedule to help productively use my summer hours and my children’s. I still have freedom from the school responsibility and hours. However, I will accomplish all those tasks and goals that I anticipated through the school year. I can pray about my summer schedule, seeking the Lord’s guidance for priorities. Then I discuss the schedule possibilities with my husband to get his direction for how my summer should be spent plus what we want the children to do with their time.

Two years ago, I wrote a Mom’s Corner on summer schedules. I am not going to repeat that information, but I would encourage you to read that article. I also suggest you read this Mom’s Corner about children and chores during the summer.

I wanted to give you some other thoughts regarding summer schedules from those who have begun implementing this idea in their homes. These suggestions from other homeschooling moms will give you motivation for your summer scheduling, plus some great ideas.

From: Mom A
There have been only a few summers in our past that we did not do school. The summers that we took a real “break” were freeing, BUT the short-lived freedom was not worth it in the long run.

It may have been glorious at the moment, but …

1) it took us FOREVER to get back into the swing of things once we did begin.
2) one of my children seemed to forget every item learned the previous year, which meant a LOT of review when we began.
3) the first day we started, I felt behind already!
4) the mind is a great thing to waste; no school meant more TV when it was too hot to play outside.
5) without a focus or a sense of accomplishing something, we were floating around aimlessly.
6) due to the mental laziness, NOTHING got done that year.
7) I spent more money that summer due to being out and about so much, which caused guilt on my part of not being a frugal helpmeet, and then the guilt snowballed into a fear of turning into the worst wife in the world.
8) we ate a lot of fast food since I was too lethargic from all my remorse to cook consistently.

IT WAS A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE TO NOT DO SOME SCHOOL DURING THE SUMMER! I’m sure that you gathered this already! I have our summer schedule for this year already written out and discussed with my children!!

From: Mom B
We schedule gardening in 30 minutes segments. One in the morning after the daily housework is done, about 9:30, and one right after quiet time, at 3:30. We usually start school at 10:00 if we are doing school, and if we are on summer break they do just handwriting or copy work, nature journals and arts and crafts kind of things. They usually play from 11:15 to 12:30 before lunch, and 4:30 to 6:00 before supper.

My children like it when I read to them after lunch and again before bedtime. If I were going to include learning a language, it would probably be in the afternoon as part of their quiet time, maybe using a computer program or tapes. This would be after they had some quiet reading time in their own room.

From: Mom C
To homeschool to enjoy the summer, I use the same exact principles as I do for a “regular” schedule. I decide when and how long to “school,” then I am done. I decide when and how long to garden, etc. I give what I want to do a slot, and I faithfully do what I scheduled. Then by the summer’s end, I will feel as if I have accomplished what I really wanted to, instead of feeling as if the time was wasted. I LOVE having a summer schedule in place. It really can be a time to accomplish a lot. Our reading quiet times are before bed and before baby’s naptime.

From: Mom D
We have a summer schedule with chores, Bible reading (God doesn’t take the summer off), and an hour or more of school. Usually everyone does math, and then the children work in whatever subjects they are poor in. For some, that may be just practicing their reading. For others, they have to repeat a course they did poorly in. We spend 60 minutes per day in the garden, usually early in the day. I leave the afternoons unscheduled. We still do weekly projects, but they are usually outside work. We keep the school-year rules of only 30 minutes of computer per day, which they have to earn by doing a typing lesson first and not scoring below a set level of words/errors per minute.

Buy board games, and provide arts and crafts supplies. At our home if the children say, “I’m bored” or something equivalent, they get a job from the project list. If they act like they are at loose ends, I suggest something fun or creative. The suggestion MUST be taken and usually after the first few minutes, they get into it and enjoy themselves. This has taught them all to be productive and not to mope around or Mom finds them something to do.

From: Mom E
We do school in the summer but only the things we think the children need extra work in, like handwriting, or things they really enjoy, like reading. We also do math facts practice so they don’t forget it over the summer. All of that probably takes about 20 minutes. We are doing our state history this summer just to prevent the day being too long during the regular year. We also do Bible every day whether we do school or not. Each person also has time for individual time in the Word each day.

I’m filling up our schedule with things like gardening, project time, playing outside, computer time, educational games, time with each parent, time with each other (we have 2 children) and time spent playing alone. We recently discovered that our eleven-year-old couldn’t play alone. He is the younger of the two and had never had to play by himself. He had no idea what to do, so we added alone time each day to his schedule so he can learn to play or work on his own.

Once we add in daily and weekly chore times and piano practice, our schedule is pretty full. Of course, we do have meal times, family time, and family devotions each day as well.

From: Mom F
We plan on having our regular morning routine this summer, which includes: Wake, dress, groom, daily chores, breakfast, and cleanup. Then we will have our Bible time and an hour of “school.” We are going to do reading, educational games, and math drills. I plan on having the older children help me with the younger ones for activities such as listening to them read and playing games with them. After this time, they will get outside time until lunch. After lunch, we will have rest and reading time, and then I plan to have a project time. They will get free time again until supper.

Do you see how these moms are using their schedules to make sure they are having productive summers? I love the change of pace our summer months provide. However, I dislike looking back on those weeks and feeling they were wasted. A schedule gives us freedom: freedom to accomplish what the Lord wants me and my children to do with those summer hours. From reading about how these other moms are using their summer schedules, I believe you will glean ideas for your own schedule. I encourage you to make a summer schedule. If you need help with how to schedule, the Managers of Their Homes book is a how-to primer on scheduling for homeschool families, including a chapter on summer scheduling. Use your summer schedule to be profitable with your summer days. Look back on those weeks with no regrets.

A Voice for Homeschool Christian Textbooks

I read your article in the Mom’s Corner on using Christian textbooks in the homeschool.

I deeply appreciate you writing that. I’m always reading articles that balk at using textbooks in the homeschool with the idea that children don’t really learn.

Well, I fell prey to that and have tried many different curriculums, unit studies, you name it. But, I typically wasn’t able to get it all together like I should have. When I did, my children didn’t respond well to it. So, all my hard work in searching for something “fun” and putting it all together myself was in vain. I have tried so many different things and wish I had stayed with the traditional Christian textbooks since I just keep coming back to them anyway.

After thousands of dollars spent on trying different methods and curriculums, I’m back to Christian texts, where I plan on staying! 🙂 I wish I knew then when I started homeschooling what I know now . . . I’d have saved a lot of money and wasted time. A homeschool mom

We hear few voices in the homeschooling community supporting, encouraging, or defending the use of traditional, Christian textbooks. I wrote a Mom’s Corner two years ago about our experiences through years of homeschooling with various curricula. I was overwhelmed with the gratitude that was expressed by moms who had felt guilty for using textbooks in their homeschooling because there is little, if any, endorsement for their choice. As in the earlier Corner on this topic, this article is for those using traditional Christian textbooks or for those who are dissatisfied with the homeschool method they are using. For others, this Corner doesn’t apply to you, and we would suggest you not read it. We don’t want this article to discourage anyone in the way that anti-textbook articles often discourage a textbook-using homeschool mom.

It is common to pick up a homeschooling book or magazine to discover it is speaking negatively about the use of textbooks. We are told we are creating a “school-at-home” atmosphere by using books, something they say no homeschooler should do. In the chapter or article, homeschoolers will be encouraged to make their schools fun and enticing so their children will enjoy learning. They are told that their children will naturally want to learn if the schooling is directed toward the areas of the child’s interest. We hear about the importance of reading whole books to our children rather than textbooks. All of this appeals to our motherly desire for our children to be happy. In the process, though, it often, perhaps inadvertently, puts a great burden of guilt on a mom who doesn’t choose to homeschool like this.

Homeschool Textbooks Prepare Children for Life

Steve and I have realized that we have a different philosophy for our homeschool than many of these other homeschool authors apparently have. We want our homeschool to be a vehicle to prepare our children for life. This life that we envision for our children when they are adults will entail diligence and perseverance. As adults, they will often be called upon to learn something that isn’t particularly interesting to them. Even if something they learn catches their attention, the educational aspect of the topic will most likely not be exciting or enticing.

Our Christian textbooks are the perfect tools for achieving our goal of preparing children for their adult lives. There will be parts of the textbooks that appeal to the children and parts that they dislike. The children will catch on to some of their textbook work quickly and easily, while other sections will be difficult and tedious. We want our children to be able to learn under all these circumstances because this is exactly what they will face as adults in a grown-up world.

Using a traditional Christian textbook approach to homeschool allows our schooling to be consistent. I have received many e-mails from homeschooling moms who use other homeschool methods and are always pushing harder and harder to make school fun and exciting. When Mom’s energy level falls, she feels like a failure because she isn’t able to supply the enticement that makes the children love what they are doing. She wears herself out gathering information, supplies, planning her studies, and looking for better materials to help her keep school such that her children will be delighted with it. In this scenario, because Mom is often exhausted and discouraged, school regularly ends up being skipped, with the children playing, while Mom feels guilty and retreats to other less demanding tasks.

With the textbooks we use, we simply move through them day by day, making slow and steady progress. I don’t have to make continual trips to the library and other places for fresh school supplies. I can focus my energy on our actual schooling because we are at home. School doesn’t depend on whether or not I have had time to plan for it. We just do whatever comes next in the book. I am not required to come up with creative presentations to keep the children interested enough in their school that they are willing to do whatever Mom has for them to do. We just do school every day.

School is Consistent with Homeschool Textbooks

We have found great accountability for our homeschool in traditional Christian textbooks. Without this accountability, it is easy to skip school for almost any reason that comes along. However, we want to finish our school books by the end of our school year or even before, so we count the cost of missing a school day. With our textbooks, even on days that I need to be away for one reason or another, the children can still accomplish the majority, if not all, of their school work. They know what to do, we have been doing it consistently, and they can do it on their own.

Traditional Christian textbooks have given our children a strong education. This is partly due to the regularity of our schooling and partly due to the textbooks themselves. Because textbooks present their material in a structured, repetitive manner, the children are receiving an excellent education. It has appeared to us that often there are “holes” in other homeschooling methods. We used unit studies for almost ten years of our homeschooling. Our older children have repeatedly told us that they believe their younger siblings have a better-quality education than they had, although we diligently covered all of the material suggested.

Even using Christian textbooks, we are cautious of the influences they will present in our children’s lives and look for the right texts for our family’s needs and the direction the Lord has set for us. For example, our children have chosen not to have dating relationships. One Christian high school level English book had a dating theme, so we eliminated it for our family. We prefer to spend our time in Bible reading and ministering to others rather than in sports. Therefore, we don’t want a major sports theme in the children’s school books, although we have found this hard to avoid altogether. We have seen worldly and silly selections in some Christian reading and literature courses. We have instead chosen the reading courses without those focuses.

Our Christian textbooks have helped us fulfill our goal of keeping our children innocent regarding evil. We don’t want to introduce them to false religions through their school studies. “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise” (Deuteronomy 12:30). “. . . I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19). Many homeschooling materials will study false beliefs in depth with the idea that the parents are to point out what is wrong with them. We see Scripture telling us that we are not to learn about them at all. Christian textbooks will give some general information about false religions in history books, but we have found it is easy to edit, with white-out, what is unacceptable for the children to know at their age. We feel it is appropriate for them to read that the Egyptians worshipped false gods but not that they know names and details of those religious practices.

Managing Homeschool Textbooks

Despite using Christian textbooks, I still need to invest time in our homeschool. I spend several hours a day meeting with each child individually-from a half hour to an hour per child-going over their schoolwork. We will read the math lesson together and work the new practice problems. We read the English lesson and make sure that the assignment is understood. Anything the child needs help with or that I want to make sure he understands, I go over with him during that time. In the afternoon, I have time set aside to check the children’s school work. For five children, this takes me a total of about an hour to an hour and a half. I also spend time during the summer dividing up our textbooks and making assignment sheets to be sure we complete our books within the number of weeks we will be doing school.

When I was brave enough to realize that I didn’t agree with so much of the writing and talk in the homeschool movement about what was a good way to homeschool, I discovered the joys of homeschooling with Christian textbooks. My hope for this Mom’s Corner is to support those who have chosen a traditional, Christian textbook approach to homeschooling. I would also like to recommend this homeschooling method to moms who are dissatisfied with what they are doing for their school. We love our textbooks, and they are accomplishing our educational goals for our children.

Since this article was written, we now have a book titled Managers of Their Schools: A Practical Guide to Homeschooling. The book is full of practical information about the nuts and bolts of homeschooling, along with a chapter written by our four oldest children.

Hard Work, Taking Thoughts Captive – Part 2

The tasks set before a Christian wife and mother are high callings from the Lord. While they can involve a great deal of hard work, we want to embrace our jobs with joy. In last month’s Mom’s Corner I discussed this part of the workload of being a mother. Now let’s look at some of the practical aspects. Are there ways to manage our workload and perhaps even lighten it?

I simply cannot speak highly enough of the benefits a schedule brings to a mom in her ability to keep up with life. I knew a daily schedule helped me immensely. However, since the publication of our book on scheduling (Managers of Their Homes), I have heard the same thing from many other moms who have begun to schedule their days.

While I am not going to try to recap all that is in Managers of Their Homes, let me share with you a few benefits a schedule has that apply to a mother’s workload. First, your schedule makes you more productive. You know what to do throughout each scheduled segment of the day, so you are not wasting time trying to decide what to do or simply doing nothing because it all looks too overwhelming.

You can schedule time to accomplish your work tasks, but you can also schedule in time for other priorities. This should most importantly include daily time with the Lord. Other scheduled personal-time activities might be exercising, crafting, reading, or napping. With a schedule making you more productive, you might discover you actually have time for projects you would like to accomplish. Plus, it is put into your schedule to assure it happens!

A schedule causes you to realistically evaluate what you can and can’t do. A mom who is away from home a great deal may have trouble keeping up. This could make her believe her workload is too great. If you are trying to do too much within the home, you will have the same struggle. Putting all you would like to accomplish on paper brings a level of realism that isn’t found any other way. If the planning stages of a schedule cause you to see that you have more to do than time to do it, taking the problem back to the Lord and to your husband may help you know what you can release.

It is imperative that a mom gets the amount of sleep she needs if she is to have any hope of keeping up with her work and having the right attitude toward it. It is tempting to continue working until way past a reasonable bedtime, night after night, in an effort to accomplish all we “think” needs to be done. On the other hand, we may find ourselves so exhausted we do nothing productive in the evening, but neither do we go to bed to get needed sleep. When we are tired, everything looks overwhelming!

We will do our families and ourselves much good if we take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). All the “I-have-to-do-this-before-I-can-stop” thoughts that cause us not to go to bed at night need to be taken captive to the truth that our sleep is more important. When we are well rested, no matter how much work we have to do or how busy we are, our spirits will deal with it in a much better manner than when we are tired.

Please, please schedule a nap each afternoon if you are not able to get the amount of sleep at night that you need. Perhaps you have a nursing baby with whom you are up one or more times in the night. Maybe you go to bed later than you would choose because that is your husband’s preference. Whatever the reason, if those nights are shorter than the sleep your body requires, have a nap scheduled for the afternoon.

Schedule exercise time into your day even if you don’t think you can afford the time. You will discover that the minutes spent exercising will multiply themselves many times over in your energy level. When you are feeling better, you will be able to accomplish more and keep up better with the work of being a wife and mother.

Sometimes I ask Steve for help. I am designed by God to be Steve’s helpmeet. There are times, though, when I simply request that Steve help bail me out of what have become overwhelming circumstances to me. This might mean that he says “no” to some tasks I have thought I could keep up with. It could be that he will physically pitch in and help make dinner or clean up. He could even send me to bed for some added sleep!

Be sure to train your children to help. You are not robbing your child of his childhood by doing this. You are preparing him for life. I hear over and over again of moms who say they were not taught as children how to care for household responsibilities. We also are very aware that many men do not know how to help their wives because household chores were never required of them as they were growing up. If you teach your children basic home duties, not only are they lightening your workload, they are also being prepared for life.

Stay home more! It is extremely hard to keep up at home if you are frequently away. Somehow, once we leave home for a meeting, Bible study, activity, trip to the store, or whatever it might be, we don’t have the same energy level and momentum for doing our home tasks as we have on the days we stay home. In addition, by being away from home we lose many, many hours that could have been used to accomplish our work. I cannot overstate the importance of limiting outside-the-home activities if one is struggling with a negative attitude toward a day that goes nonstop. If you do choose to be gone from home frequently, then you must accept the trade-off of being extremely busy when you are at home. Your outside-the-home activities are your discretionary time that could be used for rest and relaxing if you were home rather than away.

Finally, look at your schedule and tasks to accomplish and evaluate what you could do less frequently. Are there jobs you currently do every day that could be done every other day or once a week? Take vacuuming, for example. If you vacuum every day, limit yourself to doing it every other day for a month. See if you and your family can live with that level of carpet cleanliness so that you can invest the time elsewhere. What about tasks that you are doing three times a week that you could cut back to once a week? Vacuuming the carpet every day may cause a mom time pressure that leads her to be frazzled. Perhaps it would be better not to vacuum so frequently, choosing instead to put up with a less than ideally clean carpet!

There is absolutely no doubt about it; being a wife and mother means plenty of hard work, but it pays wonderful, eternal dividends. May I encourage you to consider the use of a daily schedule to help you manage your time, including both work and rest. Teach your children how to work and also be willing to ask your husband for help when needed. Remember the importance of staying home and adequate sleep in keeping up with the work of a wife and mother. May we be committed to serving the Lord Jesus by serving our families, even if the cost is hard work!

Time for Summer Schedule Planning

One of my children asked me this week if they would be doing math over the summer. That question prompted me to begin praying about and planning our summer schedule. We have four more weeks of school left as I write this plus a week of standardized testing; then it is summer for us. What about you? Have you considered the use of a daily schedule during the summer? Since I am beginning to think about our summer schedule, I felt like it was time for me to encourage you to begin on yours!

I was amazed by the reports of several of the moms who tested our book on scheduling for homeschool families before it was printed. After they had been on their schedules for a school year, some decided not to make and use a summer schedule. Their feedback was that they would not make that choice again. Their summer had rushed away without getting to the activities they had wanted to accomplish, and there was a greater level of disharmony among the children.

Summer is perfect for catching up on organizational and cleaning projects that the school year does not allow time for. I schedule one hour a day for these kinds of projects, and I am always surprised and delighted at how much I can do during this hour through the course of the summer.

The temptation is to continue working on the project past the allotted hour. However, this then undermines the rest of my summer schedule because I will have other priorities scheduled for the rest of the day.

I keep a running list of projects I would like to get done during that organizational hour, prioritize it, and jump in when summer begins. I also like to look back over what I have done previous summers to help me know what to tackle this year.

This is my list right now, but I will come up with other projects as the summer progresses: pack away and label children’s winter clothes, box this year’s school books, create a school portfolio for each child, clean kitchen cupboards, clean and organize closets, put photos in albums, and plan 2000/2001 school schedule.

I will schedule Sarah, our eighteen-year-old daughter, to spend my organizational hour taking the younger children for a walk and playing with them. This way I will have fewer interruptions during that time, and the children will be getting some exercise. Because it is hot in Kansas in the summer, this hour is scheduled for right after breakfast before it becomes unbearably hot.

Planning for a summer schedule is a great time to pray about whether year-round schooling would benefit your family. This is one way to eliminate some of the time pressures faced during the school year. When you spend a couple of hours schooling each day through the summer, you free up that time through your normal school year. It also gives your children something constructive to do with their summer days and keeps their skills fresh. We have found that we can skip the first quarter of a math book when we move into it right after finishing the previous one, because that first part is all review. We purchased an art course for our children. I am going to look at my schedule and the materials to decide if I want to give a half hour a day to beginning this course. I will find it easier to prepare for it during the summer because I have more time available.

I will also be praying about how much school to continue through the summer. Usually I schedule math that will necessitate my involvement. I try to make the other school time self-instructional and self-correcting so that as much of my time is freed up in the summer as possible.

I want to spend more time playing with the children during the summer. I put this in my schedule as well because it gives me needed accountability. I am likely to find something I feel I need to do or want to do rather than go outside with the children–especially when it is hot!–if that time isn’t scheduled. When they are looking forward to it, I don’t want to disappoint them.

Summer is a perfect time to teach your children new chore skills. You can revise your chore schedule during this time, moving jobs from child to child, training them on new ones, and making sure they can do them well.

We want our summers to involve a change of pace. However, we don’t want to lose the direction, productivity, and peace the schedule lends to our home. Therefore, we simply pray about a summer schedule, seeking the Lord for His priorities for our summer days. Then we are ready to put together the summer schedule and look forward to what we can enjoy and accomplish.

Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5 both mention “redeeming the time.” May we see the productive possibilities for a summer schedule to help us in this important directive of “redeeming the time.” May I encourage you to consider a summer schedule if you have not used one before? If you already believe in the importance of a summer schedule, may I suggest you begin now to pray about and plan for the details of that schedule?

A Homeschooler’s Key to Time Management

Four jumpers, two culottes jumpers, two vests, two baby outfits, one skirt, putting ruffles on ten baby outfits turning them from pant sets to dresses, plus keeping current on mending projects. That is the list I came up with as I thought back over my sewing the past eight months. “How do you find time to sew?” you ask. I’d love to share my time management key that will help busy homeschooling moms.

Time Management by the Half Hour

This special key is “a half hour a day.” I have planned in my day a half hour of sewing every afternoon during the week. It takes time to get the project out and to put it away so sewing time is only twenty to twenty-five minutes a day. Over the course of a year, just a little bit each day adds up to–four jumpers, two culottes jumpers, two vests . . .

You might think, why bother for such a few minutes to actually sew each day? For me the slow, steady progress and accomplishment is better than not getting any sewing done at all. If I did not have this time set aside for sewing, I would not get around to it. Other, more urgent things would easily fill this time space. Therefore, if you call at 1:30 p.m., Sarah will answer the phone and tell you I am busy. You will know I am in doing my sewing.

Homeschooling Time Management

If you call at 3:30 p.m., Sarah will also tell you I am busy. You might ask, “Now what is she doing since school is over for the day?” Once more I will share the key to my treasure. I had a desire in my heart, for a couple of years, to have reading time with my little children. Between homeschooling, household chores, meals, babies, and toddlers there always seemed to be something to keep me from sitting down and reading to my precious children. This time the special key is fifteen minutes a day.

I scheduled a fifteen-minute reading period for Joseph and John. The next year I added another one for John and Anna, when Anna was old enough. Finally, two years later I included a separate one for Jesse. This adds up to forty-five minutes of my afternoon. Because it started with only fifteen minutes, added on a little each year, and is planned and set aside just like our morning school time, it happens every day. It is cherished time, looked forward to by both the children and by me, special close time. It is time where I am doing what I have said is my priority rather than being driven by the urgent.

Last year John, my then kindergartner, came to me begging to learn to read so he could read his Bible. With a new baby, I had not planned to teach him to read until first grade, but how could a mommy turn down such a request? Though I wanted to fulfill his desire, I could not come up with even a half-hour block of time to work with him. I prayed about it and discussed it with Steve. Then the Lord showed me I had some fifteen-minute time segments throughout my day that I could devote to phonics with John. As we got started, I found four of these times. That was probably better for his attention span than a solid hour would have been!

Homeschooling and Individual Child Time

I will give you one more key to my treasure. This key is a half hour once or twice a week. Again, I had a yearning in my heart to have one-on-one time with my little children. However, as usual, the weeks would fly by with the normal routine and no individual time with a child. Then the Lord showed me that even if I could not spend individual playtime with each child every day, I could do it once or twice a week. So we started preschool two times a week. Each little one takes a turn, individually, to spend time with Mom. Are they unhappy that it doesn’t happen every day? No, they look forward to their preschool day. As they grow older, preschool time no longer fits the age so the title changes to fun school. I spend this time with one child where he gets to pick an activity to do with Mommy from a list of fun educational choices.

Priorities and Homeschooling

What is the treasure that I have been giving you my keys to? The treasure is time spent on the priorities God has led me to have. The Lord has given us each the same number of hours in our day and responsibilities that we must fulfill during this time. We can always be driven by the urgent, or we can take control of our days. We can set aside time for not only the responsibilities, but also those God-given heart desires.

These are examples from my life. Time management makes the difference for me as a homeschooling mom. What about you? What project have you put off now that you are homeschooling because there isn’t time to finish? What have you wanted to do with your children but are always too busy for? Seek the Lord to see if He would have you spend any of your time in these areas. If He directs, try my time management ideas for homeschool moms by planning fifteen minutes or thirty minutes each day at a set time and make those things happen. See how even a little bit, day after day, can net satisfying results at the end of a month or year. Try the key to time management for homeschool mom, which the Lord has given to me. Perhaps it will be a key to time management for you too.