Tag Archives: schedules

Busy Day

Yesterday, we had a very busy day. We left the house at 8:30 am, returned for about 45 minutes at 5:00 pm, then had to leave again right away, finally returning at 8:30 pm. Whew!

We started the day by taking my oldest son John to his co-op class. It lasted an hour, so during that time, the other three children and I ran errands. We made it to two stores: the grocery store and Target, and returned just in time to pick up John.

We then headed towards the far end of the county, where a new IMAX theatre just opened up. In celebration of the opening week, all of the movies were free (they even gave out free popcorn!), so we went to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D on a huge screen. Not too educational, but a lot of fun.

Next, we headed back for an orthodontist consultation for my daughter Cassie, but we arrived about an hour early — enough time to run another errand. We shopped the sales at another grocery store, but didn’t get through the entire list before it was time to go, so after the appointment, we went to one more store. Part of that list was for supplies for John’s backpacking trip this weekend, so we had to finish.

We arrived home with just enough time to pack up that backpack and head out again to have it weighed-in with the other scouts. After a short meeting, we moved on to Walmart to pick up some photos for Friday, and by the time the day was done, it was after dark.

Could this be counted as a school day? For John, it could. He attended his co-op class, read his schoolbooks during the car rides and while waiting at the orthodontist, and learned how to pack for the trip. For the rest of the children, probably not. While a lot was accomplished, not too much was done in the way of learning, so we’ll make it up on Saturday. But that’s one of the best advantages of homeschooling — the flexibility of schedules to accommodate life — or whatever else may be going on.

Sick Days

apothecaryOver the past few days, there’s been someone in the family who’s not been feeling well. It seems some sort of stomach virus has been passed from person to person, making it difficult to stick to our regular schedule or get much schooling done. When we are experiencing sick days, I tend to let the lessons slide for the time being and have the children make them up the following weekend.

There are some other ways to approach “sick days”, days where you or a child has a cold or a virus that makes homeschooling difficult. Here are a few ideas:

If your child is sick:

Make it a favorite subject day: If your child isn’t too sick, but just not feeling quite right, allow him to choose his favorite subject and work on assignments in that area for the day.

Make it a reading day: Give your older children reading assignments that they can do while lying in bed. If your child isn’t reading yet, spend the time reading to him.

Make it a video day: If your child is feeling too sick to read, find some educational DVDs he can watch. If you don’t have any at home, ask your spouse or a friend to pick some up at your local library.

If you are the one who’s sick:

Have Dad help: If you’re unable to homeschool, consider having Dad homeschool when he’s off work. Even if he works during the day, he can still direct a few lessons after supper.

Enlist the help of older siblings: If you have older children, call on them to help their younger siblings with some of their lessons.

Make it a reading day: Older children can read to the younger ones and do their reading assignments on their own.

Make it a video day: This works well when Mom’s the one who’s sick, too. While you’re recuperating in bed, don’t feel guilty about turning on some educational DVDs for your younger children.

If you find the illness is making it just too difficult to continue schooling, though, take the necessary time off to rest and recuperate. You can always make up the school days on the weekends, during traditional holiday breaks, or even during the summer. After all, that’s one of the benefits of homeschooling — a flexible schedule that can be changed as needed.

Time Management Strategies

smithA couple of weeks ago, we were browsing through a thrift store when I came across a book entitled The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum W. Smith. Smith is one of the creators of the Franklin Planner, a planner my father enjoyed using for years. Because it seems I’m always working towards a better schedule for getting things done, I went ahead and purchased the book without even browsing through it. I think it cost a dollar.

As it turns out, it was one of the best dollars I’ve ever spent. I’m only about a third of the way through the book, as each chapter gives the reader a lot to think about. One of the things I’ve found most helpful was the chapter concerning governing values, or those things that are the highest priorities in our lives. They are unique to each individual, and although they are most important to us, they are often the things that get pushed aside when the urgency of the less significant fills up our time.

Smith, then, encourages the reader to decide just what his or her governing values are and to list them as a “personal constitution,” a prioritized list with a short description of what each one means. Writing that list as affirmations also helps you see yourself as you want to be. The list might include something like “I am a joyful and patient mother,” “I am debt-free,” or “I am dependable.”

I have written down my personal constitution, and I can already see how helpful it is. I can also see how many of my activities aren’t really related to my values. This, Smith says, is what causes many people to feel so frustrated.

What is one to do? Well, the next step is to write down my long-term and short-term goals based on those values, then make my daily plan based on those goals. I’m still working through that part, but I can’t wait to see the difference it’s going to make!

Break Time

113697753842We decided to wait until the second week of January to get back into our schooling routine, so we used the time we had this past week to reorganize our home. It’s something I had wanted to do for quite a while, but busy schedules just hadn’t allowed it. So for the past few days, we’ve been moving furniture, sorting through books, weeding through the toys, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. And each day, after a few hours of work, we all take a break.

Break time for the kids means free time, which they have been spending playing with new Christmas toys. But for some reason, their free time this week has been exceptionally loud. For the most part they’ve been getting along, laughing and shouting — it’s just been so loud, that it just doesn’t count as break time for me.

My idea of a break is quietly reading a book or magazine in my room, taking a quiet walk by myself, or listening to some quiet music while I work at a hobby. There is a key word in all these activities — “quiet”.

For the most part, homeschooling parents are home with their children most of the day, every day, except when we’re running them to classes and lessons or taking care of household errands. No wonder we need a break from the activity — a quiet one. Although we can enjoy this time when our children are young and moving and playing, we shouldn’t feel guilty about sending them to their rooms, closing the doors, and going outside to sit under a tree. In fact, we need to do just that. We need to take the time to rest, relax, and recharge ourselves so we can move on well with the rest of the day.

So whether you’re schooling, working, cleaning, organizing…whatever you’re doing today, try to find a quiet place to take a break. Make it a habit, for you and your children, and you’ll be able to enjoy being with them even more.

A Gentle Reminder

DSCF5054This year, I was going to be ready for Christmas early. I had finished much of my shopping after Thanksgiving, and I was going to have all my Christmas cards addressed and ready to go by the first of December. And to add a special touch, I was going to make the cards or have the children help me make them. I planned on printing photos of the family to include in the cards as well.

But then, one day slipped by, then another, and another, until finally it was too late to send the cards — again. Too late for the cards to arrive in time for Christmas, too late to send a holiday greeting to friends and loved ones that we don’t see very often. Another year, and another missed opportunity.

But is it? I could set my cards aside, and plan on doing better next year. But then, would I let another year pass by before I sent them a note saying I’ve been thinking about them?

But Christmas isn’t a deadline — it’s a reminder. A reminder for people like me who, in the day-to-day busyness of life, too often forget what matters most. It’s a reminder to reach out those we care about and to care about those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s a reminder to do those things we should have been doing all year, but may have let slip by.

And most importantly, it’s a reminder of God’s most precious gift to us, His Son, Jesus. It’s a reminder that He sent Jesus to die and rise again so we might spend eternity with Him. It’s a reminder of His incredible love for mankind, a love He wants us to share with each other.

So the cards may not go out on time this year, but I’ll still send them out — and I’ll remember.

Hannah Help Me!

100_5898A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon, my daughter Cassie turned our local public television station and came across a show called Hannah Help Me!  She later relayed to me the contents of the 30-minute show, and I began to wish I had seen it with her.

Hannah Help Me is a reality mom-makeover show in which author and lifestyle expert Hannah Keeley comes to the home of a mom in trouble and gives her tips and strategies to help her succeed. (Hannah is actually a homeschooling mom of seven herself.) She helps moms organize their homes, create schedules that work, or regain their self-confidence. The day Cassie was watching, the show featured a homeschooling mom who needed help structuring her days in such a way that she could not only teach her children at home, but work part-time while keeping the house clean as well. Although she didn’t think to call me to the T.V. to watch it with her, Cassie did tell me most of what Hannah had told the mom. The ideas were great!

Hannah Keeley also has a website with even more for moms. You can sign up to receive her free no-stress e-cookbook featuring 30 recipes all under ten dollars. Articles on the site include tips on health and beauty, family and children, home and garden, money management, and marriage, and self-improvement. You’ll also find recipes for everything from appetizers to salads to main courses to desserts. And you can glean even more tips from Hannah’s blog. You can find it all at www.hannahkeeley.com

We don’t watch a lot of television during the week, but Hannah Help Me! is a show I’m really enjoying. I’m finding lots of good advice and inspiration — now, if only I could fit into my supermom suit! 🙂

Changes in the Schedule

Clock_2013At a get-together this morning, several of us homeschooling moms had an opportunity to compare what we’ve been doing with our children recently. I feel like we’ve finally found a daily schedule that is going to work well for us, so I told them about my plan. Other moms, then, told how they begin their mornings, and their ideas were great! I left feeling inspired, energized, and ready to make even more changes to the plan.

After speaking with the other moms today, I realized that there’s more I want to do. Before we begin with breakfast, I want us to start our day with prayer as a family. I want each child to have an opportunity to pray for each other, for their dad, for extended family, for special needs we’ve heard of, for our missionary friends who are far away. One mom suggested providing each child with a slip of paper with name written on it — that would be the one they pray for that day.

Memorizing scripture was something else that was mentioned that I want to add. One family works on a verse or two a week all together. The older children could then learn even more on their own.

Of course, adding in a time for prayer and Bible memory before our “classes” begin will require extra time for our school day. I always hope to get an early start so that we’ll be finished by lunch, but for one reason or another, we often seem to go into the afternoon. But the fifteen minutes or so that it would take to add it in would well worth the time. After all, for us homeschooling isn’t just about the academics; it’s also about raising wise, responsible, and compassionate people who will make a difference in their world.

Order in the Classroom!

gaveljanjpgThis school year, like many of our previous school years, has gotten off to a bit of a rough start. But I’m working on changing some things that hopefully will get things flowing a little more smoothly.

Recently, I read an article online that said homeschoolers sometimes have a difficulty with delayed gratification. They are often used to having a question answered right away, and they have the freedom to make comments during a lesson. Although I know this isn’t true of all homeschooled children, I can say it’s true of mine. They interrupt me if I’m reading a science or history lesson aloud, often saying something that has nothing to do with the subject. If I’m helping one with math or reading, the others are quite comfortable breaking in with a question about their own work.

I know it’s not the children’s fault — this is how I’ve been schooling the last few years. I used to feel like I was multi-tasking, answering a question for one while teaching a concept to another while handing out an assignment to a third. But I wasn’t really multi-tasking — we were just losing time, as nothing was being accomplished efficiently. So this year, I’m bringing more order in — for their sakes, and for mine!

For the first hour, I’m working with my Kindergartener while the other three work on their math. If they have a question about a problem, they just have to skip it and go on to the next one. Their math work will continue into the second hour, at which time I’m free for questions.

After math we’ll go into our group lesson of history or science. Then it’s back to individual work in Language Arts, giving me time again to help with grammar, spelling, and writing if necessary. Reading and music practice are subjects they can do on their own.

The next few days will be hard — reminding the children again and again that they will have to wait. But once they get used to the new plan, they’ll have an easier time with school — and I will too!


I’ve tried a number of different methods of assigning chores to my children, some of which have worked better than others. About a year and a half ago, though, I found a system that has done well for my family. Here’s how we do it:

Each week, I print off a new “chore list” for each child. I list the chores on the paper, with the letters M, T, W, TH, F, SAT, and SUN (representing the days of the week) after each one. As the children complete a particular chore for the day, then, they simply mark off the corresponding letter or letters.

 I like to call the first set of chores our “Good Morning!” chores, though the kids don’t quite agree. But they are easy things to do. Good Morning chores include making their beds, getting dressed and putting pajamas away, brushing hair, bringing dirty clothes to the laundry room, putting away clean clothes that have been folded, and feeding the pets. When everyone is finished, we all sit down for breakfast and devotions.

I wrestled for some time about when the children should complete their chore lists – before school, after school, or in the late afternoon before Dad comes home; after school has worked best with our schedules. So then, when the children are done with their schoolwork, they pull out their lists again and continue on down with jobs such as tidying up various rooms in the house, sweeping outside, folding laundry, and cleaning their bedrooms.

Also included in the after school list is “Put Away the Things in Your Box.” A friend gave me this idea, and it has relieved us of more than a few arguments as we clean. Each child has a box on a bookshelf near our kitchen. As the children clean up their assigned rooms and find toys or books belonging to their siblings, they just pick them up and put them in the appropriate box. No one says anymore, “That’s not mine. I shouldn’t have to pick it up.” Instead, they just put it in the box so the owner can put it away.

All this may sound like I’m an extremely organized homeschool mom with a clean house, but all those who have stopped by can tell you that’s not so. Some days go better than others, some days we’re more disciplined than others, some days the house looks a lot better than others. But at least with the lists, we all know what needs to be done.