Thursday, August 24, 2006

Where is the Time to Come From?

"Time is a very bankrupt, and owes more than he's worth to season. Nay, he's a thief, too: have you not heard men say, That time comes stealing on by night and day?" (Comedy of Errors, Act IV, Scene II)

As we adjust to new schedules and routines, this quote from our first term's Shakespeare play seems appropriate. We have our nice new schedule, and have hit the third week new-school-year-slump... you know, the one where the novelty has worn off but the habit isn't set yet? Some of us are starting to grumble about how to get all the work finished. (I try to keep quiet and not let the kids hear me, lol!)

I have friends around me who do a very simple list-type schedule, where the readings are placed on a list and whenever something gets read, it gets checked off the list. Although I see the beauty in such a system, I don't do anything that simple. (This probably has something to do with personality and my own shortcomings where mental processes are concerned.) I make up a schedule of days and weeks and plug in all of the readings, and schedule where we should be in math and grammar. Then I let copywork, poetry, and art and music appreciation be the things that we do by list-fashion. I have the kids do the previous work before moving on to the next day. I only give them their current week's work in their individual planning books, so I can adjust for real life and they don't feel like they are getting behind. I can tell if we are getting behind by my big teacher's schedule. This year, since real life never happens according to schedule, I wised up a little and scheduled our readings and such into ten weeks instead of twelve, leaving one week for catch up and one week for exams. I was able to work it out so that we still get days off for holidays and finish by the end of May. It is a comfort to know that if someone gets sick or we need to take a day to help a friend, we have a budget of extra time to catch up, a little margin.

Time is a thief. And I want to "secure many a half-hour of pleasant leisure for the young people..." (CM Vol. 5 p. 195-196) The practical working-out of this goal is still in progress here. This is currently on the front of my school binder:

But, if the schoolgirl is to get two or three hours intact, she will owe it to her mother's firmness as much as to her good management. In the first place, that the school tasks be done, and done well, in the assigned time, should be a most fixed law. The young people will maintain that it is impossible, but let the mother insist; she will thereby cultivate the habit of attention, the very key to success in every pursuit, as well as secure for her children's enjoyment the time they would dissipate if left to themselves... Firmness on the mother's part in enforcing promptness in the taking off and putting on of outdoor clothes, etc., and punctuality at meals, and in not allowing one occupation to overlap another, secures many a half-hour of pleasant leisure for the young people, and has the double advantage of also making them feel themselves under a firm home rule. (p. 195-196)

I am endeavoring to do this at our house. It is a challenge to keep up the firm household management while simultaneously maintaining an relaxed atmosphere. I struggle with keeping myself on task, and on being firm without using a sharp tone of voice. A friend of mine mentioned the other day that a sharp tone of voice when telling a child to do something implies that the parent expects noncompliance. I am trying to remember that as I shepherd my brood through the fall term. Prayer helps a lot.

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and he shall hear my voice. Psalm 55:17

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