Monday, November 5, 2012

When do I do everything?

First, of course is to pray. Why do we always save this for last? Our lives would be so much easier if we would just do this first…always. God really does care about even the little things in life and He does answer even little prayers.

Keep in mind that you only have so many hours in a day. There are five days worth of “good” things to do every day. You must weed through and pick the “best” things and let the “good” go by the wayside.

I strongly recommend you buy Managers of Their Home by Steve and Teri Maxwell at This is a wonderful book worth the price ($25.00) for just the book. The scheduling kit is worth even more but is included free. It has made a big difference in my home. I actually get History and Science done now.

You are going to make a number of lists, one for every area you are (or should be) in control of. 

Start with chores. List everything that really needs to be done to keep your house functioning, how often it needs to be done, how long it takes an adult to do it, and the youngest age a child could do this. 

Then you can assign chores to members of you household. Start with the youngest and assign chores to cover the amount of time you want this child to work (in my home this is about an hour). 

Remember your time allotments are for an adult. A child will take longer to do each chore and the younger the child, the longer it will take. For example, I could empty all the trash cans in our home in about five minutes. It would take my seven year old almost fifteen, and my four year old can take as much as twenty-five minutes.
Joy, 13
Jim, 10
Jon, 7
Joe, 6
Dress, clean own rooms
Dress, clean room, make bed
Dress, clean room, make bed
Dress, clean room, make bed
Dress, clean room, make bed
Dress, clean room, make bed
Fix breakfast Help babies with hair and teeth
Wash dishes, counters. Sweep/ mop kitchen
Put up clean dishes
Sort clothes from dryer into proper baskets (marked with ·’s and X’s)
Gather up dirty laundry
Gather up trash
Fold own, dads laundry, towels, diapers
Cat box (every other day)
Wipe down and sweep family bath
Take clothes from the washer and put them in the dryer
Sweep mom’s bathroom
Clean kitchen floor (pick up toys)
Sort dirty clothes into appropriate baskets.
Get trash bags ready to go out
Cat box (every other day. They worked this out themselves)
Put one load in the washer
Clean coat pen and hallway
Sweep the porch (her idea)
Clean up from breakfast
Clean dinning room
Clean computer room
Clean living room
Pick up one (Wal-mart) bag of trash in the yard
Put up own laundry
Teach, Prepare for tomorrow
Feed own cat
Fix lunch

Pick up one (Wal-mart) bag of trash in the yard
Put up own laundry

Cook supper. vacuum
Feed the fish
Take out trash

Take out compost

Read to children
Put up own laundry
Put up own laundry
Put up own laundry

Tuck everyone in. Groom the dog.
Help Jessie clean her part of bedroom
Feed own cat

Feed pets, water plants
For more schedule samples, scheduling kits, and an entire book on scheduling see

 Adjust accordingly. I then make a master list of all the chores according to frequency: daily, weekly, “session-ly” (every seven weeks in rhythm with our school schedule),
biannually, and yearly. This is so I know at a glance who needs to do what, when.

Next I make a “chore chart for each child listing what I want done before breakfast (make bed, wash face, dress, etc.) before school (bulk of the housekeeping chores), before Daddy gets home, and before bed (clean assigned zone, brush teeth, etc.).

The back of each chart lists the less then daily chores by how frequently they are done, (weekly, monthly, etc.).
For non-reading children, I draw pictures to represent each chore, (smiley face means wash your face, a picture of a bed means make your bed, a toothbrush means brush your teeth, etc. Computer clip art can really help here, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. Little children will believe any squiggle is anything you say it is.) 

I place each child’s chore chart in a plastic sheet protector and hang it in the kitchen. They can use a dry erase or water base marker, or crayon to mark out each chore as they do it, (watch those markers, though. They get away and cause all sorts of fun damage if you aren’t careful.)

You will probably have to take a few days to teach the older children how to do each of their chores the way you want them done. Younger children will take longer, but keep at it, patiently. They will get it (You know what? I think we parents learn more with this school stuff than the children; patience, self control, organization skills…I didn‘t have any of these things when I started but most of the time I do now!) 

First, show them how to do the chore, and then have them do it immediately after you while you watch. The next day have them do it while you watch. Call it “Home Economics” and count it as school. After all, these are essential skills needed by our children in the future. In fact, this is one of the most important reasons for homeschooling; the ability to teach our children all the skills they will need as adults.

Then, make your school lists. Take one paper for each child and list every subject you want to teach them. List what resources you want to use if you wish. Write how long you want them to spend on each subject per day. Now add them up. 

If you are like me, the next step is to go back and cut the times down until it takes less than three days to accomplish a day’s work. List what you think is a reasonable amount to accomplish in that amount of time. Do the same thing as when decluttering your house; which activities do you know you want to keep? Fill those in and when the time slots are full, dump everything else.

How do you know how much to assign per day? If you are using a textbook, take the number of days you intend to have “school” this year, (public schools do about 180, private 170. I aim for 170 and am happy to get 160 formal days. Informal but educational days, such as helping Grandma to move, nursing a sick neighbor, and watching workers resurface our street, are harder to count.) 

Drop a few days for field trips and unexpected life lessons (the above street paving, for example). 

Divide the number of days into the number of pages or chapters per book (150 days into a 376 page math book equals about 2.5 pages per day. 36 chapters into 150 days is about 5 days per chapter). 

Round the number of pages up. That’s how many to assign per day. (Three in the above math example.) This keeps the pressure down because you know you are ahead of schedule. 

If you aren’t using a textbook, start with half an hour per day and adjust the time up and down in each subject so the that the important or time consuming ones have all the time they need. 

That sounded odd. Let me try to explain it better; 
  • Spelling is important, but only needs 15 minutes or so a day. 
  • Penmanship can often be done in 5-10 minutes, so allot plenty of time (half an hour combined) for those together. 
  • History you could spend hours a day reading and never learn it all. No one can. Half an hour to an hour is good for it; a few minutes less if you are really pressed for time or more if you have extra won’t make that much difference. 
  • One guide line for composition (Teaching the Trivium by the Bluedorns) is to have your children write about a page per day, all subjects combined.
Now divide your list of subjects into morning and afternoon sessions so you know where to work each one in. Many homeschoolers get all their work done in the morning and can skip this. 

Mark which subjects will be done independently and which will be done with the family (Bible, History, Science and the like can be taught together to increase family bonding and make it easier for mother. Math, Grammar, Phonics, Spelling need to be taught individually to each child’s own level. If you are using a pre-planned curriculum where each child does each subject alone you can skip this step, also).

Now that you have a good idea of how much time to allot for each area for each child, make a list (chart) of what you want everyone to do everyday starting with you. Be sure to list every activity and to allot time to sleep (I have heard of woman forgetting to allow for that.) 

Also, remember God. A few minutes in prayer and Bible reading everyday (even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom or get up 15 minutes early) will actually help you get more done.

One key here, give a little more time per activity than you think it will take. That way when you have interruptions or just one of THOSE days when everything goes wrong, you are still ok time wise.

Making this list was probably one of the biggest stress relievers I ever did. I saw in black and white why I could never get anything done. I had always felt so lazy. Now I could see that unless I could find a way to get thirty-six hours in every day there was simply no way I could get it all done. I had to make the decision to cut things down or out until it all fit into the twenty-four hours God gave me to work with. Some things I want to do will just have to wait until I don’t have small children anymore.

Bible, song book, quiz book
20min (together)
Fallacy Detective Bluedorns
20 min (together)
McGuffey fifth reader
10 min
As needed practice
0 most days
Handy English Encoder/Decoder Bluedorns, misspelled words
10-15 min
Diagramming Sentences By Garlic Press
15 min
Harp and the Laurel Wreath
10 min (together)
Evening Reading
45-60 min (together)
Daily Essays, Writing Strands
30 min
Calculaddars, All the Math You Ever Need to Know
30 min

Story of the World Susan Wise Bauer, maps, timeline, misc. resources
30 min (together, mostly)
How the Universe Works +
30 min (together, mostly)
Foreign language
Strong’s concordance, The Greek Alphabetarian, The Hebrew ABC. The last two by the Bluedorns
15 min (together)
The Drawing Textbook
5 min
Practice as assigned by Grandma
20 min
Home Ec
Keepers at Home, chores
Walk to school, ride bike, basketball with daddy
30-60 min (together)

We do “normal school” (sitting down with our books) three days per week. On Thursdays, I have them take turns doing some educational programs on my computer while we all give the house a real good cleaning. On Fridays, they have music and art lessons; do some math drills and reviews and finish up the week's History booklets at Grandma’s house.

 We follow the “before school” part of our schedule every day but Sunday. 

We do the “before bed” parts of our schedule every evening we don’t have church. 

This keeps the house running smoothly most all the time. (I even had a relative call the other day saying she was coming to visit the following day. I cleaned the bathrooms, and did a little more laundry than normal, but otherwise was all ready for weekend company. No panicking! Check out or Sink Reflections at the library.)

Little kids do much better when they have a regular schedule. My children (even the two year old) know when they get up every morning they do certain things. There is no guess work. They know what to expect. This makes them feel secure with the world. 

When bed time comes, they know the routine and are ready to go to sleep at the same time every night because it is required every night. We seldom have bedtime problems.

I remember as a child thinking the traditional school year was illogical. It was created in a time when families needed their children home for the harvest time. This no longer applies. To have school hot and heavy for nine months (and burn out) and then take three months off (and forget everything you just learned) simply never made sense to me. 

Now that I am in control, we have school six weeks on and one week off (sort of a Sabbath week), year round. This pattern works well for us, preventing burn out, and eliminating the need for large review times. 

We do take several weeks off at Christmas when life is so busy as to make regular school almost impossible anyway. 

And if other things come up, (like the need for a few weeks maternity leave for the teacher) we have extra time to play with and still meet our state’s required time. 

Every family must find what works for them. 

Some mothers feel they couldn’t survive without the big summer break. Many who live in the south with unbearable summer temperatures take two big breaks, one in spring, and one in fall, when the weather is best for outside play. Don’t be afraid to try your own ways and find the pattern that works best for you.

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