Monday, February 04, 2008


At the beginning of the year, I assigned appointments to each of the kids in order to ensure a little more sanity and order in their daily work, which takes place throughout the house. We have a schoolroom with three computers (no online access), and then we have a great room, which includes the online computer and the piano. They have appointments for musical instrument practice, online time (math drill and Student News Daily), and individual time with Mom. We also have a couple of "assembly times," during which we do some family work, such as Bible reading, composer or artist study, poetry readings and singing. Other than that, the kids work on their own. Here is what the appointment schedule looks like on paper:

For musical instruments:

9:15-9:45 Mariel (violin)
10:30-11:00 Triss
11:30-12:00 Cornflower
1:30-2:00 Mariel (piano)

For the big computer:

9:15-9:30 Triss
9:45-10:00 Mariel
10:30-10:45 Cornflower
11:30-12:00 Triss

For working with Mom:

9:15-10:15 Cornflower
10:30-12:00 Mariel
1:00-2:00 Triss
2:30-3:30 Mariel

Our morning assembly is from 8:00-9:00, and our afternoon assembly is from 3:30-4:00. The kids get recesses every hour or so from their work, and when they are done, they can stop. The girls are first grade, fourth grade and seventh grade. (Honesty compels me to mention that Cornflower, our first grader, does most of her work with me in "her" hour-- the only things she does independently at this point are her piano practice and math drill. She plays by my side, or putters around the house, or plays outside with the bunny, during the rest of school-time.) We also tend to stop at 4:00, whether they are done or not, because there is only so much school we can take in a day. The exception to this is when we have appointments in the morning or early afternoon-- then we school till time to prep dinner, unless the kids got the bulk of their work done in the car. We have had many doctor appointments lately, and are getting very good at "carschooling."

It looks like a lot, and yes, we are going into the afternoon, which seems so un-CM, but the kids and I decided together that we would rather have more breaks and go until 4:00, than to have to plough through without a stop in the morning.

We like to joke around that "these are more like guidelines," a la Pirates of the Caribbean. However, there is a space between, "Yeah, guidelines, just do as your heart leads," and drill sergeant mama ("I said 9:45 and I do not mean 9:46!"), a thoughtful and real space where we pray and ponder what is necessary in the individual day and are orderly, whether the schedule is followed or not.

I have never looked at the Managers of Their Homes manual, but have seen some of the schedules, and I am interested in that book. A friend has told me some of the practices that go into forming and keeping order using a MOTH schedule, and my favorite part is the necessity of prayer-- before the schedule is written, and during the day when life happens and the schedule must be left and then resumed. We have had a lot of challenges this year in leaving the routine and coming back to it-- things that are good and necessary, and oh-so-disruptive to the precious school schedule. I tend to hyperfocus, and balance is not my thing. This has been a year of stretching outside of the comfort zone for me.

I am thankful for the opportunity to show the girls how to grab learning as they go. And they have gotten to where they can do readings and narrations, or math, or flashcards almost anywhere-- in the car, at the park, in the library, in a noisy restaurant, in a waiting room. I definitely prefer the half-pace of life, and have been pruning, pruning, pruning, our activities. But even with prayerful discarding of extracurriculars, a slow pace does not seem to be God's will for us at this point, so I try to be willing to learn, and to teach, the lessons of first things and consistent endeavor.

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