Friday, August 26, 2011

A Schedule that Doesn't *Dumb them Down*

I thought I might explain our daily schedule and what my aim is in the way that I schedule the kids. I don't have *it all sewn up* by any means, but at this point it works for us!

In general, they understand that they are *mine* from 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. At 3:00 p.m. I allow for *free time* if chores and school work is done. There are times within the school year when it's very easy to be done by 3:00 p.m. and times when it is more of a challenge. 

Now, within that time they are *mine*, there are rewards for the student who works ahead. They can earn extra *free time*, but when it is during the hours they are *mine*, there are certain boundaries on what is allowed. 

I schedule school very heavily on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Then Thursdays I ease up a bit and on Fridays I try to schedule as little as possible. Often they might have one or two subjects. Occasionally nothing is scheduled on Friday. I encourage the kids to work ahead if possible, thereby never having anything on the schedule on Friday. 

The reward for being on schedule or ahead is that I let them sleep in on Fridays. Fortunately my kids are not really late sleepers. If they sleep past 8:30 or 9:00 a.m., I am checking to make sure they are still breathing because it almost never happens! It they're sleeping that late they are probably sick.

The benefit of a 4-day work week is that it is easier to schedule field trips and days to spend with other homeschooling friends. It is easier to schedule days of service and ministry as well. Seriously, sometimes the best thing you can do is to get the noses out of the books!

Another very important reason that I reward for work done well and in advance is that it is a great life lesson. Put your nose to the grindstone, get that thing done that you'd love to procrastinate and you'll be rewarded! 

On the flip side, if I had a student who worked ahead and then I decided to schedule more work with the thought that the state I live in requires 175 days of school, I would dumb them down. What I mean is, the kids would see no benefit to working ahead and would slow down so that I would not schedule more. 

So, how do I say with integrity that we put in 175 days of school? Well, for one thing, I decided that *school* is whatever we decide to do on a *school day*. Secondly, I seek to foster an atmosphere of endeavors that encourage a healthy mind, body and spirit that takes place during that *free time.* That's part of the purpose for those hours and days that they are *mine.* (At 3:00 p.m., I do allow internet, TV, and playstation. If I think they are spending too much time at that, then I try to plan something more fun that we can do as a family.)

It was important to me that my kids didn't have extra time to sit in front of the TV, the play station, or the internet. So, we have ways we use that extra time. Here is a list of some of those ways (remember my kids are teens):

~I invest in books that they would like to read. 
~They each have instruments. 
~I regularly ask about hobbies they would like to pursue and invest in them as I can. 
~They are allowed computer access to play educational games, to write stories and books, to learn songs, to learn a new skill, to do web design, blogging, photo editing.
~They can watch educational TV (must be highly educational *wink*).
~We can visit friends, go on field trips, visit the library or the beach or the parks.
~We can volunteer and serve others.

Some examples of hobbies we have pursued:
~Photography and photo editing
~Programming and creating computer games
~Modelling clay, claymation and making movies.
~Writing stories, books, skits, movies.
~Drawing, painting, cartooning.
~Preserving plants and flowers.
~Creating outdoor games.
~Learning instruments and songs on those instruments.
~Experimenting with makeup, nail polish, face painting.
~Small carpentry projects.
~Putting everything you can think of under a microscope!

I do help them brainstorm activities. And I do try to save some of the school budget for these things. A few years ago I decided to step away from the overabundance of outside activities that were ruling our life and keeping us from having spare time. I did this for many reasons. But one big benefit was boredom. Yes, that's a benefit! Why? Because boredom, when complaining is not tolerated, is the mother of creativity!!  Also, giving up those activities allowed me to redirect funds to their hobbies and interests. It turns out that between the cost of the activity itself, the uniforms, costumes, supplies it needed, the fast food, and the gas was really zapping our funds! Now we have time for people, for creative pursuits and for ministry!! 

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" Psalm 90:12

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