Friday, April 27, 2012

A Working Schedule

It starts with this statement:  What is... and what isn't working.

This is a necessary question to ask if we are to stay off the path of "overwhelmed" and on the path of "progressing to a goal" in the world of learning at home.

This year, praise be to God, we have had much less 'overwhelmedness' than in previous years.  Perhaps, as I have heard, each school year we grow into a rhythm that only needs smaller adjustments with the advancing ages and stages of children.

Our school year is going to wrap up in the end of May and some unexpected bumps have entered the path.  However, we are determined to take the blessings of this year and finish strong... even if adjustments are needed again and "strong" doesn't look quite like the schedule hanging on our bulletin board.

How did we get here, to this place of actually feeling nearly "complete" without completely feeling overwhelmed?  It started with the opening question... and then traveled down a winding path (I don't want you to mistakenly believe we are getting it ALL right - we are FAR FROM a "perfect" homeschool!)

To articulate direction, I make a list:
Being honest.  I consider attitudes, curriculum, days of the week, times of the day, etc...

Then I add these two thoughts:
It is amazing, when we stop to consider, how often our 'bad days' are the result of what day it is.  Such as....

- Monday, just coming off the weekend, are the kids poky and not wanting to get their 'move' on?
- Friday, the weekend is practically here, are the kids antsy and unfocused anxious to be done?
- Are there certain days with evening activities that cause the kids to be tired the  next day or dreading a loooong day ahead?

I write it ALL out:

It has been in asking all of these types of questions that I found my way to our schedule this year.  And this is what has [mostly] worked:

Mondays, fresh out of Sunday, we ALL have a hard time getting our brain in the game.  They enjoy no alarm (and I get extra Bible study time!) though they usually rise by 9 a.m.  Breakfast, chores and devotionals are always at the foremost of each day. Then they look over the week's spelling words, write them three times, read for 20+ minutes, play a math game and practice typing.  Total "school" time: 1-1.5 hours.  Then the day is theirs (and I have time for working on ministry projects!).

Tuesday is a regular school day.  After easing into our week we are all ready to hit the ground running.  Devotions and the 3R's begin by 9 am (on a good day!!) and last till 11:30 with one midway 10 minute break.  Back to work between 12:30/1:00 we tackle history in various forms and plug away till between 3:30/4:00 with one 10 minute break halfway through.  Tuesdays are late nights for all of us (10pm bedtime) because of ministry.  The kids are rewarded by breaking up the long day with a movie after dinner while my husband and I attend to ministry.

Wednesday after Tuesday's late night, the kids enjoy an eclectic day. No alarm for kids and after breakfast/chores/devotion they have a small amount of schoolwork and extension projects left from Tuesday or prep for Thursday (such as science videos on topics we will be doing projects or worksheets for on)  I often have them do map work on Wednesdays too because they don't usually need me for that, I am then able to spend Wednesday "working" with our ministry projects and merely checking in periodically on their progress.  Spelling practice, math games (rarely workbooks on Wednesdays) and reading are some quick basics they are expected to tackle.  Total "school" time: 2-3 hours

Wednesday the younger two have AWANA (Bible club) and Ashley has Youth Group.  We typically don't get home until 8:30/9:00 so I try to go easy on them so they don't feel overwhelmed or burnt out at the midway point.

Thursday is our upside down day.  A 'typical' school day only they get to sleep in a half hour later on account of the night before and we do science in the morning, holding off the 3R's until the afternoon where we dig into our textbooks while hanging out at the library... a fun way to get out and about. "School" starts at 9:30ish with the typical breaks and lunch, we finish by 3:30/4:00.  On our way home we run errands.  After  dinner we typically review spelling words to prep for our test.  (I will have to write a separate article on why/how we spelling test... it isn't entirely typical)

Friday is hyper day... kids are READY for the weekend (and so is their mom!!)  To accommodate we have a sort of half-day.  Typical morning; eat/chores/devotions/math... and then.... spelling test, learning log and time enough to read.  After lunch we try to work on science projects, do some art or pop in some concentrated home-ec... like bake cookies!  We even use this time for field trips.  By 3:00 we tally up reading time for the week, which earns them screen time on the weekend (computer, video games, movies, etc) and they are FREE of those restrictions until Monday.

September's Schedule

January's Schedule!
Sometimes change is good!

It is an intense schedule.  One which needed some change because certain aspects just weren't working by the year's halfway point.  I have guarded our schedule, in its various forms, from outside intrusion quite diligently this year.  However, it is, at times, interrupted by sick kids, appointments and needs... and on some days it is interrupted by snow storms with snowman building and sledding trips or sunshine with t-shirts on and bicycle rides.

We also try to take a week off once a month because the other tid-bit on one of my "NOT working" lists was too many days of school with no break = burnout.  The 3 1/2 day "school" week is a result as well.

We enhance all the in-between time by not allowing screen time during the school week and certain toys are relegated to "after school" hours so they are not a distraction.  It may seem a bit extreme but has resulted in more quality reading time, art (they all love to draw), playing games and so on. 

The thing is; we are always dedicated to learning... but we are not always dedicated to learning the same way.  If all we get in is our Bible lesson and a lot of quality family time; it has been chalked up as a successful day.

Does feeling the need to get a lot of academic stuff done stress me out?  Sometimes, yes.  I'm sure you notice it here on my Friday articles at times!  But do I let it really get to me and stick?  Absolutely not.  There are more important things to invest my time in than worry... I pray that nasty stuff away as soon as it starts!

So don't worry on your schedule or daily ta-dones... even as this school year rounds out for many.  Focus on each true success, no matter how big or small, how few or how many... Focus on Jesus and His vested interested in your homeschool and know; if His Kingdom is finding glory in your house, every minute of every day is a success.

Be blessed not stressed as this school week wraps up!

Minor details and side-notes of this schedule in action, see Check Points, Where's The Paycheck, Leaning Into the Oars, and Leaving Margins.

Linking up with Sue today:

as well as Kris:


  1. Wonderful things to ponder! I do try to keep a schedule or list of work that needs accomplishing on a white board, but I'm looking for something else to organize our days for next year. Perhaps work FOLDERS for each day with chore lists? Who knows! But I like your ideas!

    So, how does reading earn screen time on the weekends? I really like this one! LOL My oldest doesn't need any encouragement to read, but the other two do and they're the ones that want the most screen time!

    1. We do folders. I use to keep their chore schedule in it but, for us, it worked better to have chores listed in a central area due to the shared nature of some of their chores. Your idea is a great one! If you do this, I recommend some flexibility in implementation as you nail down the perfect regiment for each child.

      The implementation of our reading 'program' might be best described in blog form with some pictures. I will put something together this weekend and either pop it up Saturday or Tuesday. It has taken some trial and error and a lot of prayer but God has brought us to a good system. I will share that process with you in hopes it might help build up your home as well :-)

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the loooong post today! So grateful to have a God who draws us through these things :-)

  2. Wow, you are the schedule Queen. I am in awe!

    1. Mostly I try to be a submissive servant ;-) I like a good schedule, even if it just hangs on the board and looks pretty... it, at least, keeps us directed and focused. It also helps the kids know that the day will not last forever on school work! There is a beginning and an end and they seem to be encouraged by that. (I am encouraged by that too!!!) But most of all, I take NO credit... I pray over every schedule adjustment and change and allow God to lead me through it. HE wants to use our time well as much as we do. Praise be to Him :-) Be blessed

  3. I enjoyed the post even though I don't home school (our only is 22 and could school me!), because I have been feeling overwhelmed lately with too many things to do and too little time. You are an inspiration!
    Thanks so much for visiting and commenting on Saved by Grace! Your blog is a blessing and I am now following it, and I invite you to follow Saved by Grace also:
    Love in Him,
    Laurie Collett

    1. Your comment is a blessing I am always grateful to learn when God can use my blog to inspire!